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An Exhibition of Exquisite Everyday Objects

Studio Visit

‘Ormolu’ refers to a centuries-old gilding technique, used to decorate ornate objects such as clocks, porcelain vessels, chandeliers and candelabra in the 1800’s.

This month, the term is given contemporary context by two revered Australian craftspeople: silversmith and jeweller Julie Blyfield, and contemporary ceramicist Kirsten Coelho. The pair have joined forces to present an exquisite exhibition of handcrafted metal and ceramic objects referencing historic artefacts, at Gallery Funaki in Melbourne.



9th October, 2017

The collaboration collection ‘Ormolu’,  by Julie Blyfield and Kirsten Coelho. Photo – Grant Hancock.

Jewellery artist Julie and ceramicist Kirsten in Julie’s studio. Photo – Mike Smith for The Design Files.

The ‘Ormolu‘ collection of precious-metal embellished ceramics goes on show at Gallery Funaki in Melbourne tomorrow. Photo – Grant Hancock.

Julie at work in her Adelaide studio. Photo – Mike Smith for The Design Files.

Studio details Photo – Mike Smith for The Design Files.

Julie’s inspiration board, including an image of Fanny de Mole who was a botanical illustrator in the 1800’s, and illustrated for a book of ‘Wild flowers of South Australia’. This is pinned alongside a drawing by Julie, pressed plants collected and dried from the Simpson desert and Kangaroo Island in SA, photocopied images from Museums, collections of cords  and strands of tiny coloured shells. Photo – Mike Smith for The Design Files.

A silver necklace from Julie Blyfield’s latest solo, jewellery collection, ‘Rare Collection’, which was exhibited in New Zealand last year. Photo – courtesy of the artist.

Julie is one of Australia’s most revered jewellery makers, this necklace is from her ‘Panorama’ exhibition 2015 to 2016. Photo – courtesy of the artist.

Julie ‘heating up the ‘pitch’ (to soften the resin based material) ready to place the silver sheet onto the surface  for texturing or ‘chasing’ the metal. ‘The pitch supports the metal so I have my hands free to hold the tools and chasing hammer,’ explains Julie. Photo – Mike Smith for The Design Files.

Studio details. Photo – Mike Smith for The Design Files.

Necklace from Julie’s ‘Panorama’ exhibition 2015 to 2016. Photo – courtesy of the artist.

Another silver necklace from Julie’s 2016 ‘Rare Collection’. Photo – courtesy of the artist.

Julie detailing elements for her new collaboration collection, ‘Ormolu’. Photo – Mike Smith for The Design Files.

In addition to her  jewellery, Julie has been making stunning vessels  since 2003. Pictured here, ‘Stick’, ‘Quandong’, ‘Gum trunks’ Storage containers in oxdised sterling silver and sterling silver, from Julie’s ‘Panorama’ exhibition. Photo – Grant Hancock.

‘Necessity’, a collection of Kirsten’s ceramics (solo) from 2016. Photo – courtesy of the artist, This Is No Fantasy and Dianne Tanzer Gallery.

Lucy Feagins
Monday 9th October 2017

‘We are interested in the translation of utilitarian objects into something precious and valued.’ – Julie Blyfield.

Julie Blyfield is a renowned Australian silversmith, who creates meticulously detailed contemporary jewellery and embellished metal objects from her Adelaide home studio. Kirsten Coelho is a celebrated contemporary ceramicist who has exhibited extensively both in Australia and abroad.

This month in Melbourne, Julie and Kirsten join forces on ‘Ormolu’, a stunning exhibition that brings together handcrafted porcelain containers and an accompanying jewellery collection.

The exhibition has been produced painstakingly over the past nine months, and consists of handcrafted canisters, embellished metal containers and jewellery items, grouped in small families or ‘suites’ of around six to seven pieces. Each suite is named after a historic town in South Australia – such as Yelta, Moonta and Weetulta! ‘Many of the forms of the ceramics are derived from historical, domestic objects found in museum collections,’ explains Kirsten.

Julie and Kirsten are old friends who have been talking for many years about collaborating on a special body of work. The pair share a passion for visiting historic townships and museums, and their respective practices are often inspired by researching domestic objects of centuries past, such as kitchen utensils, tins and containers. ‘The beauty of these everyday items, often made from inexpensive materials, are records of past lives and times,’ Julie explains. ‘We are interested in the translation of utilitarian objects into something precious and valued.’

For this project, the pair researched the historic connections between pottery and metalware in the Moonta Mines Museum and the South Australian Museum, as well as looking at the findings of a major archaeological dig on the site of the Royal Adelaide Hospital. ‘Dr Keryn Walshe (previous South Australian Museum Archaeologist) was very generous in sharing her knowledge and displaying the vast array of items including bottles, ceramic shards and personal items collected from the old dump site of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital,’ Julie explains. Both makers photographed this collection, with Julie reinterpreting the motifs found on a small shard of ceramic which was uncovered here!

Accustomed to long hours working solo in their respective studios, Julie and Kirsten have relished the opportunity to join forces on this project, and to develop a thoughtful, cohesive body of work with a deep sense of respect for each another’s practice. The result is a meticulously crafted collection, far greater than the sum of its parts.

Ormolu‘ by Julie Blyfield and Kirsten Coelho
October 10th to November 4th
Gallery Funaki
4 Crossley Street, Melbourne

Julie Blyfield’s pieces are stocked at Gallery Funaki. Kirsten Coelho is represented by Philip Bacon Galleries Brisbane, This Is No Fantasy and Dianne Tanzer Gallery Melbourne, and BMG Art Adelaide, you can see more of her work on her website, here.

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