It's been a wonderful week for jewellery in Melbourne, particularly with the Schmuck and Johannes Kuhnen exhibitions at RMIT Gallery.
The panel discussion that followed in Friday was very interesting. This was despite the question 'What is contemporary jewellery?' which seemed to puzzle most of the speakers.
Memo to self: when setting a panel topic, remember to discuss this with the speakers.
I thought the statements by speakers were surprisingly forthright. Generally, there seemed a dismay at the lack of regard for skill in jewellery. Robert Baines decried the 'throw it all together' style of making, and questioned whether it would have lasting value. Simon Cottrell bemoaned the lack of critical discussion about jewellery and asked where the JMGA Vic was when we needed it.
Memo to others: We need to appreciate that these invaluable bodies are run by volunteers and the best way of activating them is to join up and start doing something.
But most challenging was Johannes Kuhnen, who basically claimed that there was so little time devoted to learning skills in university jewellery courses that there was little point doing them. He argued that universities were the wrong place for learning jewellery because they valued writing more than making. There was quite a strong response to his comments, with many saying that the trend in tertiary education is towards more higher degree learning, rather than expecting it to be completed in undergraduate years.
All in all, it was a very intense discussion, frustratingly constrained by time. It was a sign that we desperately need more substantial and better organised forums to reflect on what's happening in jewellery today.
Memo to JMGA conference organisers: Allow for plenty of discussion time, and wait for questions, they will come, even you have to wait before someone gets up the courage.
BTW The shows are absolutely wonderful. Very interesting to see the strength of Asian jewellers in Schmuck.