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Jewellery 3 Ways

jewellery 3 ways seminar

work by (L-R) Manon van Kouswijk, Maree Clarke, Jane Laver

(by Katherine Bowman)

This coming Thursday, 9th October, Northcity4 is hosting our next seminar, Jewellery 3 Ways.

Each of our seminars has a different focus, and the focus this time is on jewellery/adornment. I always feel that it is important to look outside of your field of interest/study for inspiration and knowledge and this thought has informed the creation of this seminar.

Our marketing states:

Jewellery 3 Ways will look at our complex and rich practice from three different perspectives in an attempt to create an alternative way of looking at contemporary jewellery.

I have great respect and admiration for the three speakers we have speaking at the seminar: Manon van KouswijkMaree Clarke and Jane Laver.

I am so looking forward to hearing their individual perspectives on their practices. We hope that you can join us on the evening. More information can be found here.

To celebrate the seminar we have a new window installation going up this week by Marcos Guzman, entitled Future Plants and Flora Project.

On the night, we also will have work on display by the respective artists as well as a selection of artist monographs from Gallery Funaki, which are available for purchase.

Tickets to the seminar are $20 and are available here.

I hope that you can join us – Northcity4, on the evening.

Cara Johnson – Walking Distance

Northcity4 Window Project: Feb 8th – April 5th

Cara Johnson installation NC4

Cara Johnson is currently a second year Gold and Silversmithing student at RMIT.  Northcity4 invited Cara to present a new installation piece to coincide with our seminar: Renew Restore Respect, to be held at Northcity4 on Thursday 20 February 2014, from 6-8pm.

Both the seminar and Cara’s window & gate installation Walking Distance are being staged as part of the Sustainable Living Festival 2014.

Cara was invited to be involved in this project as her work and practice show great respect and consideration for the natural world. Found and collected leaves, pods, shells, are often the starting point for Cara’s jewellery practice, best realized in sensitive drawings and paintings found in her sketchbooks. From this initial recorded investigation, Cara then makes often, unexpected departures, creating unique and dynamic works.




Cara’s Artist Statement for this project, reflects this approach:

Nothing in nature is still, it changes and adapts from moment to moment.

I wanted to explore the intricacies of the Australian Bush that I observe when walking near my place. The movement, the shapes, the colours, the light, the sounds and the irregular wonky beauty. Its the unexpected parts of nature that I find the most interesting, the ugly bits. 

In this work I hope to evoke the connection we have to nature and and how precious this is. 



Using found wire from within walking distance of where she lives, Cara has transformed discarded wax coated cardboard boxes (which are difficult to recycle at the best of times), into an installation, composed of multiple parts which will adorn both the front window at Northcity4 as well as the side entrance gate. Because of the construction, card suspended on wire, the individual parts will move and change according to the wind and the day.




We invite you to experience this exciting installation by Cara Johnson,

Walking Distance, will be on display from February 8th 2014 – April 5th 2014 and can be viewed at all times of the day.

Visit NC4 or SLF websites for more information.


Dale Hardiman – Irregular Formation

Dale Hardiman? We think he’s Ace! This post is a bit of a poke so you will get yourself over here to enrol in his workshop this weekend. Dale makes amazing stuff from a strange but beautiful non-toxic and biodegradable bioplastic. He makes homewares and recently he has become a jeweller!! Yay, more jewellers!

Pogle bangles from Dale’s website

Come and learn how to make things from this really easy to use material and when you arrive you can check out his installation, Irregular Formation, that he built at Northcity4 last weekend.

Dale wanted to embellish the NC4 facade with an organic structure to house our ever fluctuating selection of plants.


He combined his signature bioplastic with a selection of handsome sticks & branches collected from Maldon in central Victoria to build a sculptural structure.

As Dale worked on Saturday out the front of NC4 in the beating heat, friends and strangers popped in to see what he was up to, offer advice & on some occasions lend a hand.


By 3pm there was a quirky and friendly structure guarding over what remains of our potted garden (a few not so friendly types have helped themselves to our flowering orchids, succulents not to mention 3 large pots of bamboo in the past)

photo copy 2

Thanks Dale for sharing your skills and including us and our visitors in your assemblage. Stay tuned as the structure may continue to grow in coming weeks.

photo copy 4

Once More With Love – Interview with Suse Scholem and Simon Cottrell

As part of the Sustainable Living Festival, which runs from Feb 9 – 24th, Northcity4 is proud to be hosting Once More With Love, an exhibition, seminar and jewellery workshop.

Ali Limb caught up with organisers Suse Scholem and Simon Cottrell to find out more about them and how this exciting project evolved.


Suse Scholem (left) and Simon Cottrell installing OMWL at Studio 20/17 in Sydney

How did Once More, with love come about? and can you explain the relationship to Ethical Metalsmith’s?

Once More, With Love came about quite organically but with a dedicated intention to locally address issues of ethics and sustainability in the jewellery field. The project began in late 2010 after I contacted the Ethical Metalsmiths to get their blessing to run an Australian version of their Radical Jewellery Makeover. Makeovers run as awareness raising and skill sharing workshops, teaching jewellers about ethical issues in production whilst recycling publicly donated materials and using sustainable methods to create stunning new works of jewellery.

During our local Jewellery Makeover, one issue surfaced: what to do with the remaining materials and how to continue the message and further local discussion of these important issues? We brainstormed the concept and decided to send the remaining donated materials as ‘mystery bags’ to contemporary jewellers around Australia, challenging them to recreate new works from (mostly) these random materials. Quickly, the project grew with its own potential to reach a broad audience, touring the exhibition of these recreated works to engage more people around ethics and sustainability issues in jewellery. The project has already been received rave reviews in Sydney at Studio 20/17 and in Canberra at Bilk Gallery.

Could you describe the OMWL concept. And it’s a great name who came up with the idea to call the project ‘Once more, with love’?

The OMWL concept basically takes public donations of unwanted jewellery, gives them to contemporary jewellers across Australia to be recreated, and showcases these new works along with accompanying events to provoke further discussion in our communities. For more information, check out the Once More With Love website.

As for the name, Suse came up with it during brainstorms with friends, family and fellow jewellers. The project’s working name was initially ‘mystery bag project’  but we wanted a phrase to express the sentiment behind the project: recycling with loving intention, giving the object a chance to live again, with love; “Once more, with love”. All agreed that this was a fitting and catchy name.

What inspired you both to take on the OMWL project?

I was drawn to start Once More, With Love to provoke more local dialogue about ethics in jewellery production. I’ve been passionate about social and environmental sustainability for years. I’ve been passionate about contemporary jewellery for years. Simultaneously, I struggled with my own awareness of the problematic processes within jewellery production. I was being exposed to groups who were creating empowering community-based direct action, and felt drawn to contribute. I wanted to add more local voices to the international dialogue on an international issue. Most makers are often aware of the materials we use, whether they are sustainable or not. Sometimes the public are not so aware. By inviting donations from the general public and sending them to established Australian artists, we hoped Once More, With Love would cross-pollinate discussion between practicing jewellers and the wider community, adding to continuing conversations and building awareness of the dirtier side of jewellery production.

As a child my family were more interested in me learning about Australia’s bird and plant life than anything about human centered culture. I joined the Gould League long before I joined any sports team.

General interest and consideration for the broader environmental context in which we exist and rely on has always been there in my life. Hence, consideration for material use is inevitable within my creative practice. It is simply logical, on many levels, and in many ways even economical; with more ‘exotic’ alloys like monel scrap metal is always cheaper than the fresh stuff.

I would not bother to claim that my work is ‘about’ sustainability, it is just logical and responsible to simply ‘be’ so. However while it is easy for the breadth of human culture to overlook the individually held concerns of many silent individuals, the united and engaged voices of many cannot be so easily ignored. It seems the right time to further open this discussion around jewellery. While it has always existed in some way since the 70’s but has often quietly remained on the fringes …at the moment there seems to be a significant wave of such thinking.

Simon Cottrell - Polite Gold Ring With Impolite Erruptions

Simon Cottrell – Polite Gold Ring With Impolite Erruptions

Where did all the jewellery come from?

The donated jewellery came from all across Australia, through call outs via networks, facebook and community groups. The initial workshop pulled in a good amount to start with, then once the project expanded we made another call-out via facebook and used the networks of the expanded artist list. Simon scoured a few op-shops in Canberra with the aim of pulling in enough sources of unwanted jewellery. However once the donations from the second public call-outs came flowing in, we were overwhelmed. The final amount of reclaimed jewellery reached well over 35kgs. The donations came from a spectrum of individuals who responded to the intentions and values of the project. We are truly grateful and really want to thank all our donors, without whom the project couldn’t have happened.

What were some of the challenges of receiving donated materials?

Receiving donated materials was like being a recipient of multiple Kris Kringle gifts – opening packages of mystery contents from unfamiliar origins. It was really exciting! The sheer diversity of what we received fit perfectly with our aims and needs for this project. Some of the challenges included; testing the metals, sorting the donated materials eg. wood, plastic/costume, precious metals, base metals, beads… and untangling things from within the chaotic mass.

suse mystery bag simon mystery bag

How many artists have been involved in the touring exhibition and was there a criteria for selection?

All together there are 21 artists in the project. The process of selection evolved through our networks and word of mouth. One of our main aims is to present an exhibition that captured the diversity within Australian makers.

Some artists were involved from the initial workshop, such as Melissa Cameron and Jill Hermans, others joined as we expanded the project. Some jewellers suggested colleagues, others were specifically invited through the community and word of mouth. The project naturally drew artists with an existing interest in sustainability.

Were many of these artists working sustainably before the exhibition?

Yes, many were. Several artists are known to be walking the walk, and talking the talk on sustainability matters but also many expressed that though they are concerned about such issues in their personal and their professional life, few had challenged themselves within their jewellery practice in terms of sustainable process and production, often this formed the motivation to be involved in the project.

From what you have heard, has being involved in OMWL impacted the artists involved approach to their work/life?

Many including ourselves underestimated how much of a challenge it was to work with materials that we did not choose for ourselves. A few artists have stated they’ve done a number of things they’ve never done before… I for one, used beads for the first time in my life, after over 15 years of refusing to even touch them. Many also stated they felt like a student again, having a new blank slate for their creative actions.

Simon cottrell- 'Beaded beaded chain'

Simon Cottrell Beaded Beaded Chain

Several artists expressed a heightened shift in their practices, being more conscious of their materials and origins of production. Even those who were already incorporating environmental and ethical issues into their art seemed reinvigorated and more focused.

What were some of the surprises when the finished pieces arrived?

We were surprised by the diversity of what people managed to do with such challenging materials. There are over 60 works in the show, all so amazing in their own way. Regardless of obviously using very different materials, if you know the individual practices of each of these jewellers, it is remarkably easy to see their priorities and interests still coming through. Come see for yourselves.

As contemporary jewellers yourselves, were you already implementing sustainable process and materials in your work? Has your approach and practice been affected by your experience of organising the exhibition?

Yes, I was already seriously considering sustainable processes and ethical issues in my work – particularly my conceptual work. My environmental and social passions have played a large role in pushing my practice into more hybrid realms, such as using performance rather than traditional object-hood.

Since organising this project, I have been even more mindful of the origin and ethics of the materials I choose and the OH&S risks involved, particularly in my production work. I’m more focused on these than ever before… and even more passionate about communicating the history of materials in my work.

Suse Scholem -  gold chain to nugget ring

Suse Scholem – Gold Nugget Ring

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always held concerns and responsibilities for such things, but the discussion that has occurred through the events of this project so far have unveiled thoughts and insight I’d not really considered in relation to my practice. For example if I am using industrial scrap-metals is that metal really ‘clean’, can the process through which that scrap was produced still be carried as a baggage within my own work? This is the benefit of critical open discussion with diverse colleagues and the public, you cannot assume a clear affinity or even prior awareness to the nature and content of their thinking.

OMWL will be exhibited at Northcity4 in February as part of the Sustainable Living Festival can you tell us a bit about what to expect from the exhibition, seminar and workshop that will be taking place?

Gladly! The exhibition is diverse, there’s something for everyone. We’re really excited to share it with the Melbourne community… bringing the project back to the place it began! The conversation seminar involves an interesting breadth of speakers discussing and engaging with the community on the variety of themes in Sustainability in Jewellery. (bookings required) There will be audience participation and community engagement, and straight after the seminar we will be launching the exhibition opening with some help from Little Creatures Brewery!

The following weekend, Feb 23 & 24 Northcity4 will also host a weekend workshop with Suse and special guest Emma Grace (Founder of The Treasury), where participants can undergo the same ‘makeover’ style challenge as OMWL artists! (bookings required/space limited)

The aim of these events at NC4 is to further discussion in our local community. Jewellery practice in Melbourne is remarkably diverse, but the one thing that unifies us all is the use of tangible resources. This is something we can all relate to, as makers and as wearers of jewellery. It is only through ongoing community dialogue that we can continue to further what is increasingly becoming an unavoidable subject of discussion.

Do you have any tips each for artists wanting to reduce the impact of their work on the environment?

1. Always attempt to understand the origin of your materials – where does it come from? Who made it and under what conditions? What are the ripple effects, socially, environmentally, and physically for you to work with the material?

2. Don’t be afraid to ask about the origin of material – the more people that ask these questions, the more the message will be continuously in the collective consciousness and hopefully effect the chain of production.

3. Be comfortable with your artistic practice and your personal environmental impact. Little steps are better than no steps at all.

1. Attempt to gather detailed information about every link within the chain of supply within the resources you use and the ways you use them.

2. Thoroughly check the pre-existing research from both the respected sources and the less so. Even between groups who would appear to have similar aims; Ethical Metalsmiths, Responsible Jewellery Council, Initiative for Responsible Mining, Earthworks; their differences can be confusing and ‘green-wash’ does seem to be everywhere, depth and breadth of insight is the only way to see through it.

3. As these issues are enormously elaborate and are often veiled by industry, resolutions cannot always be effectively applied in simple ways. All the more reason to always remain curious and question everything. What is ‘right’ for one persons practice may be ‘wrong’ for another. An understanding of these differences of context is not only personally valuable but considerate of the bigger picture.

Thank you Suse & Simon for taking the time to share more about Once More, With Love we are really looking forward to the events to come in February.

Setting up OMWL in the dark!

Setting up OMWL in the dark!

NEW ABAF thumbnail

A Great Big Pozible Thank You

Pozible Success!!!

If you’ve been following Northcity4 on Facebook, you’ll know that we have been drumming up support for a pozible campaign for a mentoring project between Northcity4’s Ali Limb and jeweller Emma Grace. The great news is that we’ve hit our target! Even better news is that you can still pledge your support. Quoting from Emma herself on her event page:

KA-POW!!! We’ve broken through the initial target – the NorthCity4/Emma Grace residency is GO!

Now that we’ve hit our initial Pozible target of $2210, a whole world of new possibilities has opened up. Read about our exciting new targets below!

So far the campaign is up to $2420. $120 of the extra money will be spent on a GOLD AND SILVER METAL TESTING KIT. It will mean we can test whether a metal is real silver or gold plus the Karat of the gold, making it possible to use second hand jewellery and reclaimed metals.

Our next goal is to raise a further $500 to create a SUSTAINABLE JEWELLERY GUIDE. This will include information about materials for making and producing jewellery, a list of suppliers and documentation of our research into ‘sustainable studios’, including alternatives to common chemicals. We’re really passionate about making our findings publicly available to help other new and existing jewellers transition towards more sustainable products and businesses too.

This means we just have to raise a further $410 in the remaining 8 days of the campaign. We’d love your help with this so please share our Facebook event, forward on this email, tell your friends and help make this goal a reality!


Please visit the pozible page, check out the great rewards you can receive and consider supporting this great project.

Before embarking on this joint mentoring project at NC4, Ali Limb decided to quiz Emma Grace on where she is at in her career and what is important to her.

Emma Grace in New York City

How did you discover Jewellery as your preferred medium?

For me, jewellery is the perfect combination of fashion and art – both of which I love. At school I was always into sculpture and being creative with what I wore, but it wasn’t until my first year at university that I discovered how much I loved making jewellery.

What, where and when did you study?

A Bachelor of Visual Arts, majoring in Jewellery Design at the University of South Australia (in Adelaide), 1998-2001.

Emma’s workbench

Who or what inspires you to make things?

All sorts of things inspire me – my inspirations are constantly changing. Recently I have been incredibly inspired by collaborating with other artists – the way they work, the colours, forms and textures they use and most importantly, their approach to creativity. For my latest exhibition at e.g.etal, How the Light Gets In, I worked with seven wonderful artists from a diverse range of disciplines, giving me new insights and inspiration to take forward into my new work.

How the Light Gets In. Object by Nicholas Jones and Emma Grace, Earrings by Ellie Mucke and Emma Grace, & Neckpiece by Kate Tucker and Emma Grace

What have been some of the challenges in your career so far?

There have been times over the last decade where I’ve worried that I wouldn’t continue to find inspiration or feel creative. Obviously this is a significant challenge as a professional jeweller whose business depends on the development of new ideas and designs in order to survive and flourish.

How have you overcome these?

I have learnt that allowing myself time for ‘play’ is crucial to creativity. I have Crafternoons with friends, get creative in the kitchen and garden and make small objects. Sometimes this seems too good to be true, but that’s why I chose the profession in the first place.

What are some of the rewards?

As above! For me, spending time making things is its own reward.

I just love it.

It’s also pretty cool to be able to wear the things I make, or create something special at the last minute to wear out on a weekend.

Oxidised sterling silver and natural crystal earrings by Emma Grace

How has your interest in the environment influenced or informed your work?

Despite being a passionate greenie my whole life, it didn’t actually occur to me to incorporate sustainability into my practice until about five years ago. I used to see jewellery and sustainability as quite separate things. Since my light bulb moment, I have been gradually changing my practice to reflect my values. In 2009 I set up The Treasury – a jewellery up-cycling workshop aimed at empowering people to be ‘fashionably’ sustainable. And now I’m about to embark on my biggest challenge yet – to research, develop and make the most sustainable collection of jewellery possible! Check out the campaign www.pozible.com/nc4 and help this project happen.

Sculpture by Chaco Kato and Emma Grace

What is your favourite object & why?

My (latest) favourite object is a little luck charm a friend brought me back from South America. It’s a beautiful miniature world of symbols and colour. I also love it for the fact that it’s made with recycled materials. The colours were an inspiration for the new collection of jewellery Ellie Mücke and I have designed together called Mücke & Grace. This new work will be available at Craft from Nov 1.

South American lucky charm


Whaddaya do with a bunch of old plastic washing baskets?


Make a fabulous sign for Northcity4 that’s what.

Our latest sign project at NC4 was undertaken by NC4 board member Caz Guiney. True to form she collected a range of laundry baskets from the road side and used these to create a plastic mosaic.  The installation was assisted by the reliable Nick Curmi, old friend, supporter of Northcity4 and Project Manager at Ceres Environmental Park. Thanks Nick… six pack is on it’s way!




half a four



the other half!





Jewellery From Everyday Materials – Craft Cubed

It’s on tomorrow and there are still a few spaces left. Click here to book right now!

Here are some of the things that you could make!


neckpiece from detergent and yogurt containers


ring made from yogurt, tomato sauce and shampoo containers


ring made from yogurt, tomato sauce and shampoo containers


earrings made from fabric softener and shampoo containers


earrings made from a shampoo container


ring made from shampoo and yogurt containers


earrings made from a yogurt container


earrings made from yogurt and detergent containers


earrings made from detergent and shampoo containers


ring made from shampoo and yogurt containers


Open Studio

We hope that you can come and join us and check out how much Northcity4 has changed and developed since our last public opening which was the launch in March. The studios are now fully tenanted and there will be quite of few of the tenants and board members there on Saturday working and doing demonstrations and have their artwork/jewellery for sale.You can also come and see our fabulous new jewellery benches for the school.

Claire McArdle will be working at Northcity4 leading a community crafting event. (not sure if this link goes anywhere – it’s a facebook event). City.Loop.Collab will be presenting a projected installation. And there will be a barbeque, a brazier, mulled wine, chai and lots of welcoming smiles.


Jess Kelly – Northcity4 Sign

We have a new sign!

Jess Kelly has produced a beautiful paste up sign for Northcity4. Jess is a tenant at Northcity4 and we asked her about her inspiration for this paste-up:

Lamps are an element that have been appearing in my work for some years. I like noticing the different types of lamps in the streets of different cities, from the utilitarian to the most ostentatious. I imagine that the most ornate ones probably started out very plain but have flourished over the years, becoming elaborately gnarled in the same way that the trees which line city boulevards do. Fanciful speculation aside, lamps illuminate a path to take. If you’re looking for us, there’s a light over the door.

mixing the paste-up paste

ready to go up



nearly finished