Friday, May 28, 2021


So, this last week, just before the 7 day lockdown for Victoria I headed to Port Fairy to conduct some one-on-one tuition with artist Oriel Glennen, thanks to a grant from Regional Arts Victoria. Being surrounded by the sea and what the sea throws onto her shores, Oriel creates the most beautiful sculptural and wearable objects by incorporating her finds with unique textile elements as well as gold and silver components. 

The first day we looked at how working with the lost wax casting technique could be used in her designs and Oriel carved a large link that will be cast in sterling silver. We discussed the limitations with the casting process and also the ability to make multiples and how you can add or subtract components to create new pieces. 


The second and third day were focused around soldering and how to fabricate casings for the organic found objects that Oriel works with. Oriel's eyesight has changed over the last few months which has impacted her depth of perception and she was needing some help with how she could still solder with some adjustments. We were slowly getting there, but I still couldn't explain to her where the torch should be without gently guiding her hand. Then, Oriel suggested that perhaps I could wear a patch on one eye to get an idea of what she sees. What a brilliant idea! 

Once I started to set up the piece to solder, adding the flux and placing the solder on the join I realised how difficult it was to gauge the depth of field and that I couldn't look at the work straight on, I needed to look from the side and once I lit the torch it got a whole lot harder. What I worked out is that I needed to look at the colour of the flame either side of the piece to be soldered, not how I would normally look directly on the piece. Needless to say, it was certainly not easy to do. What a teachable moment for me that was, reminding me that I can't instruct the same way with each person I teach, I need to accommodate and understand their needs in any way I can.

Not only was it a teachable moment, but a very emotional one for the both of us, Oriel said that "finally having someone truly understand made a huge difference" and her confidence has shifted.

In the next couple of weeks we will have a Zoom session to review what we looked at as I had to rush home on the last night prior to lockdown and we didn't have the time to reflect on the 3 days. 

Teaching can be both exhilarating and taxing, I have found over the years that it is more of a dialogue between the student and instructor and that we learn from one another. If one person can't see another's point of view, then it's time to try something new. 

I have missed teaching over this past year, I moved from Adelaide to Ballarat and COVID made it that much harder to get started. But now, I am on the hunt for a studio space that is large enough for me to teach from. I am determined to work around this pandemic the best way I can, whether it's face to face classes or online classes when lockdowns occur, life should go on.

Thursday, November 14, 2019


Since coming back from my trip to Italy I was starting to feel unwell, some aches and pains and a slight headache, jet lag I thought. Anyway, things have been getting incrementally worse with each day and a month on, I am now in a full blown autoimmune flare up. The worst one I have experienced in the many years I have had these problems with my body. My immune system is in overdrive and giving me all kinds of grief, attacking my joints and muscles, nervous system, head, etc. I have tingling in my arms and legs, a stonking headache, pain all over the shop, I feel wobbly, my skin even hurts...this connective tissue disease caper is balls. 

I had a similar flare up two years ago, around the same time of year. I think that a great deal of it comes from overworking, stress and worry and also eating the wrong things while I was away. You see I figured out last year that I couldn't eat wheat, dairy and processed sugars as they promoted inflammation in my body, but of course I ate pasta, pizza, gelato and drank a few wines...when in Rome. In my mind, I thought a little bit won't hurt and when I get back I will go back to my regular diet and all will be tickety boo, but alas, that wasn't the case.

This brings me to what I really wanted to write about, grieving for the person you once were and accepting your new reality. If you are able to accept your lot in life then you have won half the battle. It's probably the hardest thing to do, especially with health problems that become debilitating and change the way you have to function while working and socialising or stop you from participating in work and socialising all together. But, change is good right? Learn to adapt, I hear you say, just get on with it... Well not before you have the chance to grieve and let go of everything you thought you were. 

If you don't give yourself the chance to grieve and let go of who you were, all that rubbish will come back each and every time you experience a set back. All the bitterness, the anger, the sadness will smack you in the face and you will be back to square one. 

I have recently been watching Marie Kondo on tidying up your space to transform your life. I like how she encourages participants to thank the items they are going to let go of in order to move on. To also thank your house for keeping you safe and warm and looked after. How about thanking our old selves for getting us to this point in our lives, for bringing us joy and happiness, for introducing us to our lifelong friends, for being a sounding board to the constant chatter, for enduring pain and heartache, for pushing through... 

Our old selves have set us up to be able to tackle our new version of our lives, given us the scaffolding in order to gain strength to move forward. Big change is terrifying and can be crippling without the right support, but it's what helps us grow, so yes we need to get on with it, but not before we say thank you to the person we once were and have a good old cry about it too. 

Writing this wasn't easy, on the count of opening up so much about my woes and also it took me a good 4 hours to write, the perpetual fog in my brain makes it hard to string a sentence together. So, dear reader, I idle on...

Saturday, October 12, 2019



I have returned from an amazing trip to Italy which would not of been possible without the support of Arts South Australia and a lot of hard work on my end. 

The trip was to undertake a Masterclass with world renowned goldsmith Giovanni Corvaja, visit museums and galleries in Rome, Florence and Milan and finally conduct an artist talk about my practice at Irene Belfi Gallery in Milan. 

My trip started in Rome, crazy busy, so many tourists clambering to see the sights. My goal was to see the sights early in the morning including the obligatory drop of pennies into the Trevi Fountain then try and avoid the crowds by visiting some galleries, which worked a treat. 

I stumbled upon this building (below), the Palazzo Venezia, one of Rome's most important Renaissance buildings, beginning its life in 1455, becoming the Republic of Venice's embassy in 1564, the property of Austria in 1797 and finally the Italian state took back possession in 1916 turning it into a museum of medieval and modern art. Here's some highlights from Palazzo Venezia.

Another museum of note, was the National Museum of Rome. This museum housed some pretty fantastic antiquities including jewellery and a comprehensive display of mosaics and frescos. Here are some highlights.

After a couple of days I headed by bus to Todi which is located in the Umbria region. The town of Todi lies on top of a hill and according to ancient myth, Todi was founded by the Veii Umbri on the site where an eagle dropped a rough cloth taken from their table, which is where the towns coat of arms derives. This place is magical, some buildings date back before 1200 and the Palazzo del Popolo was built in 1213. 

I spent a few days wandering the town, visiting the amazing churches and cathedrals, taking in the sites before I began a week-long masterclass with goldsmith Giovanni Corvaja. There were 4 other makers in the class, two from Scotland, one from Latvia and one from Armenia (now living in Thailand). I had the most wonderful time there with everyone, I truly felt welcomed and fell in love with the town. 

Giovanni was kind enough to show us all his amazing work, what a treat to be able to handle the work of someone I have admired for a long time. 

Here are some pieces...

I learnt the traditional technique of granulation by firstly alloying my own ingot of 18ct gold and then rolled and drew the metal into sheet and wire to make samples of the process.  

During the week I spent the time experimenting with the technique while also taking advantage of being around the other participants and the extensive resources in Giovanni's studio. 

I was sad to say good bye to Todi, I would have to say it was the highlight of my trip, both the history of the place, the people, the food, somewhere I'd like to come back to. 


After an eventful trip from Todi to Florence (which saw me destroying my bag on the many cobblestones I ventured across), I was ready to take it a bit easier, so I walked 25kms on my first day there! I'm glad I packed a lot of bandaids. 

This day was dedicated to visiting The Pitti Palace and Gardens, Bardini Garden and a wander over the river, which ended in a visit to Casa Buonarroti, a wonderful museum with the most friendliest curator who gave me some good tips for other smaller museums with decorative art collections. 

The main reason I wanted to visit the Palace was because they house an extensive collection of jewellery in the Silverworks Museum, the only downside was that I was not allowed to take photos, which was massively disappointing as there were things I have never seen before and would never get to see again, it was fantastic to visit all the same. 

The gardens were dotted with so many sculptures and water features as well as grottos such as the one below.

A walk further up the hill brought me to another garden and a building that houses a Porcelain Museum. I was able to take photos here but they aren't the best due to the fact the building has so many windows and lots of reflections. 

Adjacent to the Pitti Place Gardens is the Bardini Garden with some great views of Florence. 

I decided to head over the river into the centre of Florence where all (and I mean, all) the people were, so I had a gelato and searched for somewhere to get away from the crowds. I found the Casa Buonarroti Museum, and what a find it was. 

The Casa Buonarroti was a residence that Michelangelo Buonarroti Younger lived, he was the nephew of Michelangelo. The museum is in possession of a number of drawings, sculptures and paintings by Michelangelo. The room above was a eulogy designed by his nephew and the paintings depict meetings between Michelangelo, Popes and sovereigns. 

The following day I visited the Bargello and the Horne Museums, and I was rewarded with collections that absolutely blew me away. Side note: I have taken a good thousand photos on my trip, a lot of which I want to keep for my own reference, so I am only sharing a few from each place I visited to give you an idea of what I saw. 

The afternoon was spent in the Archaeological Museum of Florence which had the most outstanding collection of Egyptian artefacts including sarcophagus, everyday items, jewellery, the works...


The last leg of my trip, Milano. The day after I arrived I met Irene Belfi at her gallery to unpack my work for my artist talk. A small group of people came to hear me chat about my practice. It was nice to meet some other makers and also speak to some students who were early on in their jewellery education. 

The last couple of days in Milan were taken up with sight seeing and a bit more Museum and Gallery hopping. 

I am very thankful for being able to take this trip to Italy, I hadn't travelled to Europe for a very long time and I would not of been able to without some financial assistance afforded me through an Arts South Australian Grant. This trip has been beneficial to me both personally and professionally. It has given me some time away from my regular work routines, at the bench and teaching. I feel a real sense of excitement for how this trip will influence new work next year. 

I've learnt a new technique in the place it was perfected hundreds of years ago. I have made genuine connections with those I have met along the way, which really, is what it's all about. 

It's been challenging traveling on my own, but with those challenges has come a real sense of belief in myself and what I am capable of doing. All that said, I am happy to be home.