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Craft review: Emerging Contemporaries

Craft by Kerry-Anne Cousins. Craft ACT, Civic. Until March 28.

Emerging Contemporaries: Kelly Austin, Zoe Brand, Richilde Flavell, Rohan Goradia, Marina Hanser, Chelsea Lemon, Rene Linssen, Sarah Murphy, Adrian Olasau and Jasmine Targett and Portraits of a Tea Cosy. Crucible Gallery: Reminiscences, work by Mi-Kyung Myung.

On entering the exhibition the shimmer of gold directs the visitor's first gaze towards a glowing wall piece made up of serried rows of small beaten medallions  fastened together like chain mail. I have seen artefacts taken from burial sites that, when reconstructed, do not look unlike this work. However costly it appears, it is an exemplar of the maxim that all that glitters is not gold – true indeed as Sarah Murphy has cleverly made this work from beaten bottle tops.

Emerging Contemporaries showcases the work of 10 young recently graduated artists.  Recycling and environmental issues are among the concerns of artists today and the work on display reflects this trend. Jasmine Targett's telescopes are joined by a hand-blown glass bubble (What the eyes do not see) that negates their ability to be used.  It is a visual metaphor for the blindness of those who cannot see the effects of environmental degradation. Chelsea Lemon's Triangulated Chair (a seat with tiny planter beds) makes the point of environmental sustainability and interdependence between humans and the natural world in an imaginative work that communicates its message well.  We need to sit gently on the chair or damage the delicate plants that grow alongside us. The fragile fronds and leaves of the plants is an indication of just how vulnerable new plant life can be.

Both Kelly Austin and Richilde Flavell work with ceramics. Austin is concerned with making functional ceramics that combine practicability with aesthetic appeal. Her sets of round serving plates are either in a textured matt grey blue finish or a glossy dark brown glaze. These plates, while being beautiful objects in themselves, are a practical response to the contemporary trend of presenting food as an art form.  Richilde Flavell's collection of ceramic bottles, Under the Moon, reflect the artist's interest in relationships established by form and colour.  The subtly changing palette of coloured glazes the artist has achieved on the surfaces of these small vessels sets the mood to suggest the hues of a darkening sky.

Marina Hanser's exploration of the emotional stages of grief translated by the artist into a series of wall mounted glass disks seems a very personal journey that somehow excludes the viewer. Zoe Brand's collection of badges are scrubbed clean of any traces of their former life. Badges are a cheap graphic communication device for disseminating popular culture. By removing their images and reducing them to a metal disk, Brand is removing their messages.  Whether they still have the importance ascribed to them by the artist is perhaps open to debate.

Among the other works, Rene Linssen's mortar and pestle, and cafe stools; Rohan Goradia's small side tables and Adrian Olasau's clever bicycle mount are well conceived and designed and seem ready for studio production.

Portraits of a Tea Cosy is a travelling exhibition from Queensland. It is a collection of actual tea cosies knitted and fashioned by Loani Prior, a textile artist well known for her explorations into the world of the tea cosy and indeed an author who has written several books on the subject. This collection of Prior's funny, quirky and even silly tea cosies (one is based on an infamous wedding hat worn by Princess Beatrice) are accompanied by  images by  Mark Crocker, whose photographs of tea cosies and their owners depict them with sensitivity and affection. The owners of the tea cosies in the photographs tell their stories in text and video.  In the narratives they weave around their own tea cosies, it is obvious that they are objects of sentiment, of nostalgia, of love and friendship and all the emotional sentiment connected with family and community. And who would have thought that of the humble tea cosy!

Mi-Kyung Myung's little collection of paper cut-outs in the exhibition Reminiscences is in the Crucible Showcase. They are worth studying. Mi-Kyung Myung is influenced by Korean paper art. It takes great skill to make these small meticulous works as you will know if you have ever tried origami paper folding. Not unlike the knitted tea cosies, these works reflect the artist's celebration of traditional handicrafts.  Yet Mi-Kyung Myung has recast the traditional handicrafts in a contemporary idiom that links both the past and the present in a sensitive and meaningful way.