In collaboration with Public Assembly (http://publicassembly.com.au/) Roseanne co-produced a performative and social compendium of jewellery concepts and techniques, with input drawn from Melbourne’s contemporary jewellery community of practice.
Operating from a studio located in Public Assembly’s converted van situated on the streets of Melbourne, PDF Exchange was activated alongside programmed Radiant Pavilion events.
Synthesising DIY tutorials with traditional training methods, P.D.F Exchange facilitated an alternate framework for tacit knowledge transmission. The project acquired momentum through daily repetition of a jeweller’s task with conceptual and technical resolutions generated via verbal instruction – sharing of specialised know-how between a revolving visiting instructor participant ‘VIP’ and an in residence novice maker. Stylistic variations were observed, abstracted and annotated as sequences of movement or verb chain, by an in house dedicated scribe.
Time lapse video, charcoal wall text, artist statement.
Anna and I met up for lunch in a cafe, and in breathless relay she tells me about her recent forays into the art world and I tell her of my recent foraging exploits in rural Victoria. When I say recent I mean instructive – learning more about weed and fungi identification in localised community workshops. These efforts complement my existing range of fruits, fungi and greens I currently procure from over and under fences, or from just around the corner.
We arrange to meet up in a few weeks at a nearby park to pick, slit, and thread daisies into chains and then through an advanced manoeuvre, consume – bite, chew, and then dispel as a continuous process (if possible). I think it sounds like fun but Anna is less convinced of the strange connection I making with foraging, jewellery and nourishment. I’m not sure either, or at least how exactly my proposition will pan out. I try to reassure her with a quick summary of my knowledge. ‘Dandelions are well regarded as a bitter green. Leaves and flowers are high in vitamins and can be eaten raw in salads or cooked like other greens. They’re easy to identify’. I endeavour to reassure her by saying, ‘I’ll bring along a fact sheet’.
I arrive prepared with a chopping board and paring knife. On second thought, I think they look too brutal for the genteel action we are about to commit. I packed them for Anna, being of artistic persuasion I wasn’t sure if she bit her nails – the horny covering at the end of the thumb is the tool required to impart the split. Location and season are in alignment. It’s rained recently, the grass is long and lush and fortunately for us the council mowing budget is always a bit stretched this time of year. I indicate areas to avoid, along fence lines or landscaping furniture, rock features and around trees. These I advise knowingly, are localised sites where dogs urinate and council workers spray poisons.
We begin harvesting. ‘Flowers and stems’, I offer in guidance, but Anna seems able to intuit this and we arrive back to where knife and chopping board are patiently waiting.
As a co-elaborator Anna is fantastic, her enthusiasm for the task is bountiful. Dandelion on the other hand seems to carry on with a mind of its own, coming untethered when faced with teeth, tongue and jowl. Together we persist. Intuitively I follow the course of the action, feeding Anna dandelion flower heads, as she splits, threads, suspends then mouths, chomps and chews them. Normally, making daisy chains from flowers is associated with innocence, tranquil past times or green living. In our hands the activity becomes unfettered, the articulation of Anna’s jaw is sensational, ferocious and carnal.
Postcards From the Ring Road 2015
Installation Mailbox Art ARI and hosted Paleo Fantasy Walks
Accoutrements, Digital Image, Poster,
Recordings of a Paleo-fantasy
In readiness for setting out, co-elaborators are rudimentarily equipped with a bucket containing symbols – lines, circles and squares, in felt, paper and plastic, in three primary colours (instruments to assist us in the indexing of ornament); a blackboard pendant accessorised with chalk – a wearable accoutrement to make notes, symbolic drawings, or maps (in case we get lost); and a pamphlet outlining a step by step guide to the broach/brooch shadow-casting technique. Prior to this engagement I’d requested interested parties to bring along a smartphone or camera, for this is how the trace of our collective experimentation would register. I carry a rechargeable spotlight attached to a 2.5 metre pole.
Intuitively we form a procession; in single file our pace is meandering. Even though I’ve taken the bookings I haven’t fully planned our route. Our way forward is chartered according to the nearest available light source: cultivated light (hand held spot light), artificial light (existing foyer, mall or parking lot light) and natural light. The walk’s effect is reliant on the sun turning up and performing on schedule, but for two of the walks it clouds over and the sun’s emergence is fleeting, and on the last one it starts to rain. This wouldn’t be the only time during research that I discover that working in conjunction with the elements is a real test to the spirit of co-elaboration. I guide co-elaborators down a scaffold-covered side alleyway. It’s dark, dusty and smells of urine, and I am quietly thrilled by the theatrics of the space. Let’s imagine, I say, this is where it all began, we’re in a paleo-fantasy and this is the site of the Blombos cave.
Emptying buckets of felt, plastic and paper shapes, co-elaborators begin to sort them, arranging them as symbols on the ground and walls. Holding the spotlight high, one by one I back-light each of them in turn. Registering silhouettes prompts the initial association between shadow-casting and the indexing of ornament as a symbolic act (one that is simultaneously presents as an abstract ornamented silhouette on their phone screens). In the relay between doing and seeing, we’re attempting to re-surface the emergence of a preconscious relationship between ornamentation, language formation, and the movement of our bodies in space and time. Where acting out what I refer to on occasion as a paleo-fantasy. Our gestures may not cast in the same configuration that Plato was envisaging with his cave allegory, but small shifts in our perception begin to occur just the same. It’s music to my ears when I overhear ‘I’ll never think of jewellery or the city in the same way again’.
Security have requested we leave the complex. We’ve been here less than ten minutes and I’m impressed by the immediacy of the uniformed guard’s arrival on the scene. Fuzzy felt symbols adorn the alcove, although he doesn’t seem cognisant of their presence. We’re not given a specific reason for our ejection, but initial advice is that what we are doing is out of the ordinary, and it requires centre management permission.
Since leaving the scaffolded cave, our course has taken on a life of its own. Co-elaborators have become more intrepid and intuitive with their practice of the broach/brooch technique. Advancing up Flinders Lane we’ve dipped into foyers, parking lots and now Collins Place Mall. Walls, floors, foyers, stairwells and footpaths have been temporarily adorned. Co-elaborators seem more attentive to the viability of existing artificial light, and skilled in their directives – requests of me to assist them in their speculations on the ornamental event. I respond by augmenting low light conditions with the handheld accoutrement: a pole mounted Halogen spotlight. We move on every five minutes or so, supplementing our fantasy of the ornamental event, and of the becoming of ourselves, with a Paleo snack of blueberries and 90% chocolate. We take shelter under a skyscraper eave, to mark symbols with chalk on our blackboard pendants that trace something of the journey so far.
It’s a subtle, primal experience and the effects of the experience are shared conversationally and through the silhouette images posted with a hashtag online. As our climb nears the top of the hill, I’m hopeful the sun will come out for the advanced section of the shadow-casting technique. On this occasion we are rewarded for our efforts with a fleeting outpouring of the finest light known to ..….?
 An invented term. Co-elaborators are human and non-human contributors whose making and unmaking elaborate research tasks. Iterative engagement between these diverse agents mobilise the operative agency of co-elaboration.
 An archaeological site located in Blombosfontein Nature Reserve, east of Cape Town on the Southern Cape coastline of South Africa. The cave contains Middle Stone Age deposits currently dated at between c. 100,000 and 70,000 years Before Present (BP), and a Late Stone Age sequence dated at between 2000 and 300 years BP. The archaeological record from this cave site has been central in the ongoing debate on the cognitive and cultural origin of early humans and to the current understanding of when and where key behavioural innovations emerged among Homo sapiens in southern Africa during the Late Pleistocene. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blombos_Cave (accessed March 27, 2018).
Co-elaborator buckets, black boards and instructional prompts
Postcards and light boxes
Preparing to enter the cave.
Broach/Brooching inside the 'cave'.
Seeding the Cloud: a walking work in process 2010-present
Timelapse Video, instruction booklet, artefact, digital image.
For some years prior to undertaking doctoral research, my social practice ran complementary to my studio and exhibition situated makings of contemporary jewellery. In this approach, my interests were more readily expressed through narrative than plotted through advancing technical prowess. My creative considerations were with repurposing materials and discarded matter (including text). Aside from fittings and fixtures made from precious metals, my material resource was gleaned from urban social spaces. Material residues that I fossicked for included: wood, (icy pole sticks); plastic (disposable cutlery, lollipop sticks, drink bottle and jar lids, bread ties); rubber (tennis balls); steel (can lids, bottle caps); and aluminium (ring pulls, street and car signage), all left behind and processed in day to day outdoor urban activities such as lawn mowing; dog chewing; bat hitting or ball kicking; picnicking; natural weathering; sport watching; criminal activity; and transportation to itemise a few.
In an effort towards deepening my collaboration with the variety of ‘vibrant matter’ (Bennett 2010) and the vital processes already affective within the environment, I initiated a move from the comforts and convenience of a well organised and equipped studio, and began improvising with a transient method of making outdoors. In one project, Seeding the Cloud: A walking work in process (2010-) I adapted public architecture as temporary work stations and enacted a type of ritualised jewelling. This involved stitching gleaned plastic fragments with silk thread and seeding with pearlescent beads into a linear trace. In meeting with thread’s end, I’d tie off, and after knotting, proceed home adorned, accompanied by the weight, movement and sound of the trace in its wearable form.
As familiarity grew, with technique and neighbourhood, I began to tell of subtle differences in interaction with material, time and space. In response to twice weekly iterations of un-plotted transient jewelling, the threshold of my relational exchange with material and its mattering began to affect a shift, between interactions prescribed in terms of a knowing subject making with intention, i.e. a hylomorphic practice (Ingold 2013) to a relational ratio more akin to an entanglement, co-evolving with a system of making along with gleaned material and transient makings of others.
Traces of my makings in this project were less defined by mastery, measured by perfection, or overly concerned with producing an outcome or an income.The accumulative effect was configured via a strategy of ‘care making’ (Splawa-Neyman 2014) – bringing a material resource to life that was otherwise undervalued and frequently overlooked.I open-sourced the project with a guidebook of instructions and hosted small group walks in multiple cities and countries.I worked alongside others, offering instruction and encouragement for them to take up the responsibility of hosting.The project continued to socialise in small clusters locally, nationally and internationally beyond my immediate reach or control.As a serialised sequence of actions and activities, Seeding the Cloud: a walking work in process knitted together the micro event of jewellery (making and wearing), the local event of inhabiting urban space through public actions of making, and the macro or global event – the prevalence of oil-based plastic pollutants converging in gyres in our seas.In impulse this project aligned with Jane Bennett’s notion that ‘moments of sensuous enchantment with the everyday world – with nature but also with commodities and other cultural products – might augment the motivational energy needed to move selves from the endorsement of ethical principles to the actual practice of ethical behaviours’ (2010, xi). Through making this connection I began to speculate on how else the ornamental event of jewellery might play in re-configuring my, your, our own and the world’s becoming.
The breadth of Melbourne’s urban sprawl never ceases to amaze me, and in driving towards Epping I observe a change from white picket fence to Italianate concrete gargoyle. Genres of ornamental embellishment signal expansionist aspirations of Melbourne – a stylistic shift occurs approximately every ten kilometres, with post 1950s becoming more apparent as I travel north.
Before stepping out I reach for the conveniently named (yet indelicately titled) strap-on selfie stick. I’ve modified a store-bought selfie stick by screwing its base onto a black plastic lid, threaded with a found black nylon strap, pre-equipped with plastic findings on each end. Compositionally it’s ad hoc but functional. The plastic lid positions high on the front of my chest, straps go under each armpit, while the stick cranes out in front of me I frame my silhouette in the phone screen facing me. I couldn’t say how I came up with the idea, I was simply looking to enhance both the look and feeling of connectivity with the broach/brooch technique. I’ve tried it out in private, posing hands free with the sun on my back out in my yard.
This is my first time walking the Ring Road trail. From Google Maps, I can tell there’s a concrete path that runs east west between housing estates and the freeway. It’s protected by sound barriers on one side and lined in sections, with a narrow strip of what from above looks like bush or grass. On first impression, it doesn’t look nearly as appealing as the Merri Creek trail located just around the corner from my house. Nevertheless, I’ve chosen to walk out on the shared trail as a poetic gesture of encircling, played through the M80’s ambition to circumnavigate suburban Melbourne’s outer urban rim. Alongside this intention I’m equally concerned for the sensation of ‘falling out of formation’, an aspect of getting lost, and allowing for the ‘unfamiliar appearing’ that Rebecca Solnit writes about (2005, 6) that may issue forth when exploring an adaptation of the broach/brooch, shadow-casting technique when walking along this outer suburban walking trail.
‘To be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery’ (ibid.).
The mysterious act I was about to commit in a less familiar situation was my equivalent to facilitating the sensation of getting lost – working with not knowing what next and being alive to the discomfort of uncertainty. My research appeared most generative when I unsettled habitual problem solving (explicit and implicit) approaches to thinking through the doing of jewellery. As my research progressed I developed a heightened sense of awareness for the emergence of excess arising within formal and informal research situations. During these occasions, I endeavoured to attend to the potential material, spatial and temporal side effects by growing attentive to the surplus of excessive gestures, misdirection, inefficient or repetitive processes, accessorial registers, and residues of coincidental material and immaterial traces. I grew to think of these sensate experiences as ornamentation in its effect.
In endeavouring to attend to these extraneous yet somehow essential concerns I began to draw inspiration from political theorist Jane Bennett when she suggests ‘what is also needed is a cultivated patient sensory attentiveness to nonhuman forces operating outside and inside the human body’ (2010, xiv). In the research, these forces demonstrated a tendency to arise in restless, lively situations of play where the ‘energetic vitality’ was precocious, double edged, or moving in several directions at once. In effect, these forces were more than likely to prove unrecognisable or unstable. Emergent agential conditions that I discovered I could easily be overwhelmed by in the midst of their presence.
As I became more familiar with an arising sensation of unease towards an unexpected disruption to an otherwise straightforward task, I began to take note and consider my sensate responses to a disorderly manifestation as a sign that the effect of the research I was grasping for was actually happening, or in fact working. On occasion, I would regale myself for responding to such encounters in a manner that I would later reflect on as being, in effect, too precious, or at other times, not precious enough. I yearned for an easy comfort and imagined how otherwise it could be, if only the research could correspond more convivially in the hinterlands, somewhere in between.
I’ve set myself the task of walking along the Ring Road trail in an attempt to recast the Barcelona feeling of being disoriented and at a loose end. I set myself up – strapping on the modified selfie stick and inserting my smartphone. These preparations occur in the company of the morning sun, my shadow falls in oblique alignment, slightly ahead and veering off to one side. Surprisingly, I note, I feel stretched, slightly out of my comfort zone, vulnerable but not in any real danger. I steady myself, inhale sharply, exhale shallowly then ease my way forward. Every strand of my body feels alert, tensioned in alarm – viscerally shrieking you can’t make anything beautiful out here let alone jewellery. My pace reveals something of my diffidence: le ef fff ftt tt pause, rii iiiig hhhh ttt pause; extended pause to adjust selfie stick; le eft tt pause, ri iiigh hht tt pause; extended pause tweak and tighten strap ….
I can’t recall if it was scholar Rebecca Solnit or author Will Self (another tenacious walker) who said the heartbeat was equal to, or an even multiple of, the rhythm of walking. Such an account might prove unreliable in source as well as measure, because in this instance I detect my pulse beating much faster than usual. Each stride facilitates greater ease – I move with greater confidence relative to becoming more accustomed to the projection of my chest-mounted appendage. Forward momentum increases, prompting me to keep an eye out for debris that might herald the potential for ornament. Every few meters or so my ambling forward adjourns. I pause, and pose with poise, gathering myself to enact an enhanced version of the broach/brooch technique. Casting silhouette in relation to stuff on the ground: crumbling Styrofoam container; rumpled juice box; windswept plastic bag; crinkled drink can; and spilt water bottle to characterise a few. Though even for this chest-mounted selfie stick wearer, broach/brooching with dead rat in a bush was, I decided, a step too far.
Mid-morning and the trail showed signs of moderate use; joggers, bike riders, dog walkers came towards me and passed me by. Staging this action on the Ring Road trail was hardly demonstrative of a social attempt to blend in. My presence here was more akin to the vibrant mix of guerrilla gardens and orchards growing out from behind the houses I passed along the way. I too was taking liberties, cultivating the porosity of an artificial boundary, and making something of a curious interest from an otherwise underused interstitial space or material.
In distinction from My Shadow Wears, I’m advancing the process of shadow-casting with the addition of the hands-free method, an improvement on my handheld Barcelona (and later Merri Creek) broach/brooch technique. Along the Ring Road shared trail, I shadow-cast with arms stretched either side, palms facing forward and fingers mostly spread as if greeting the world afore me with open arms. With the sun on my back I hold my position, breath in hold one, two, three, four (checking out of the corner of my eye that I’m meeting by approximation with horizontal and vertical Texta lines marked on my screen). In the doing I notice a shift in my demeanour – from awkward anticipation to something more sympathetic with, even advantageous to, the sensation of being alive. I stay with my arms in position long enough to feel for a presence. It’s not anything like a religious experience, but to a stranger looking from afar, it might appear as if along the Ring Road trail, I’m creating re-enactments of a holy scene.