A HOMAGE TO 15 YEARS OF PRINTED CIRCUIT BOARD JEWELLERY…
"Through my jewellery and object design, I aim to set an example for recycling and re-use by incorporating a high percentage of salvaged materials. My mission is to turn these beautiful rejects into useful objects again - rescuing the intriguing innards of the very machines that underpin modern life. These objects become a potent reminder that what is cutting edge technology one day becomes obsolete scrap the next".
My work with salvaged tech junk began after my first summer job - assisting with the relocation of my dad's electronics company in 1999. Amongst boxes of components that I was instructed to throw into the giant skip bin, I discovered printed circuit boards for the first time. The bright jewel-like colours and intricate detail of the obsolete boards made each one a miniature work of art once its electronic function was disabled.
After early beginnings in 2000 making simple necklaces and giving them away to friends, I soon gathered a small following of people who were offering me money to make more!
The visual aesthetic of the circuit boards began to infiltrate my art and design work, showing up first of all in a screen-printing project I undertook whilst completing my Bachelor of Design at the College of Fine Arts - UNSW, in Paddington, Sydney. I was very obsessed with all forms of cyberpunk art and literature - the film The Matrix became my private religion for several years!
In 2001, I entered some circuit board jewellery into the Junk Love Exhibition, run by Sydney's Reverse Garbage, an industrial re-use centre based in Marrickville. I won both the Jewellery Category Award and the Encouragement Award. I was soon invited to stock work in the Make A Difference (M.A.D.) Gallery on Enmore Road, a retail offshoot from Reverse Garbage. My work nestled happily amongst that of other local designers, all creating objects from miscellaneous recycled materials including such things as bike tyres, retro fabrics, and collages of images from old books.
During 2002, I joined forces with my best friend and partner-in-design Patrick Bremner, to hold a stall at Glebe Markets every Saturday. On our first day, we were so clueless that we had no market umbrella and we didn't even bring a cash float, just the $10 or so that we happened to have in our pockets! The learning curve was steep, however, we made some great market buddies and new design contacts. I called my label "Fire Escape: Body Adornment For the Industrial Age", reflecting my cyberpunk influences and post-apocalyptic anarchistic Mad-Max type pursuasions.
"Part Bladerunner, part Matrix, FIRE ESCAPE is the brand for those hard-wired to the future. These are protective garments and wearable tracking devices for the dark cyber-cities of electronic sci-fi fantasy"
Sales at M.A.D. were going well, and as my reputation grew, I received interview requests from the Sydney Morning Herald and other local publications. I held my first solo exhibition at the COFA Campus Art Store in 2004, along with being involved in various group shows at Knot Gallery, Surry Hills, and Reverse Garbage, Brisbane. I also held market stalls for three years running at the annual COFA Spring Fair.
The circuit board jewellery was clearly a hit, with one of my lecturers buying some cufflinks to give to a curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and at one point I even received an email from a girl in Croatia who had received some of my earrings as a gift from a friend in Sydney.
During 2005 - 2006, I completed my Diploma of Jewellery and Object Design at the Design Centre Enmore - TAFE NSW Sydney Institute. Here I learned new and interesting ways to combine materials and processes, and I streamlined my construction methods, bringing a more professional appearance to my circuit board brand.
Moving to Brisbane in 2007 - 2008 also provided new opportunities and motivation for my small business. I found support from many great stores in Brisbane who had a strong eco- and ethical focus, such as Reverse Garbage in the West End, and Biome Living, Bliss Eco-Wear, and The Servo in Paddington. More requests came in, for editorials in Virgin Blue's inflight magazine Voyeur, the art journal Artworkers, and the USA-based publication Craft Zine. I exhibited solo again at the Brisbane Square Library at the end of 2008.
Returning to Sydney in 2009, I worked for another local eco-jeweller, Tanya Coelho of Zefyr Jewels, once again expanding my repertoire of jewellery making techniques.
I continued to stock various stores and galleries in Brisbane and Sydney up until 2012, when sales slumped due to external factors such as the Brisbane floods and the GFC. During this time my focus shifted more towards sterling silver jewellery and commissioned work.
In 2012, I returned to DCE to complete the final year of my Advanced Diploma of Jewellery and Object Design. I achieved Distinctions in all subjects completed in 2012, and was also awarded the 2013 Jewellery And Object Design Award, which provides unlimited bench access and tuition fees for one year of the Cert III Jewellery Manufacture course at DCE.
In 2013, I feel that a change is due and a new direction beckons, but I am very proud of all that I have achieved making jewellery from discarded junk!
Theme song for today: "Clubbed To Death" by Rob Dougan, from The Matrix Soundtrack.