You open the wardrobe door and a large moth flies out. You assume it is one of Brisbane's ubiquitous wardrobe dwellers, the dowdy Granny's Cloak. Imagine your surprise to see a flash of silver and human eyes staring at you from the wings instead of the usual eye spots which deter predators. These eyes would scare off the unprepared for certain. Such is the world of Silver, where art meets real life to produce fantasy, and this precious metal is the conduit.
The credo of the Museum of Brisbane is to be "part of the living history of the city, examining how Brisbane and its people continue to change over time and revealing how each of our individual and collective stories are the milestones of the city's evolution". This exhibition is a prime example. Part of the exhibition is based on some found objects in the Museum's repository of artefacts, including the gelatin silver photographs of Arnold Elliott, who records his family's history from 1860 to 1921, and a botany sketchbook of watercolours by Elsie May Ramsay.
Six jewellers have paired with 6 photographers to collaborate on this exhibition, and I dare you to differentiate between those who went willingly to this union and those who had their doubts. The pairing was based on mutual concerns previously exhibited in their art works. For Beer and Loathing in Bris Vegas, Ray Cook and Matt Dwyer drew on their shared childhood experiences as well as their awareness of Brisbane's place in Australia before it came of age. In defiance of Southerners' perceptions of Brisbane as a backwater, they have played humorously on kitsch yet iconic items such as souvenirs made of kangaroo scrotums and Mr Fourex.
The pairing that most resonated with me was that of Andrea Higgins, photographer, and Madeleine Brown, jeweller. Their collaboration is based on those long lost photos of Elliott's, discovered under a Red Hill house in 1983. Andrea has presented these photos alongside objects from the era, as in the six Elliott women and six perfume bottles from their day. Her interest in such memorabilia has paid dividends here.
Photographer, Michael Cook and jeweller, Ari Athans, come from diverse cultural backgrounds, but successfully combine to illustrate Past, Present and Future, a work which links Brisbane's indigenous past with the present day, and takes a peep into the future. One of Ari's silver and pearl earrings becomes the anchor which has weighed down the Aboriginal man's past, present, and possibly, future.
I found the exhibition challenging, not simply a pretty display, although parts of it were. Maybe the video in Trace and Glimpse wasn't working properly when I viewed it, or I didn't understand the concept, but I found the artwork very difficult to relate to its description. Perhaps a Weekend Notes reader could explain this to me. However, I found the three bowls which were part of this project absolutely stunning as works in themselves.