Marian Hosking: Gardens. Bilk Gallery for contemporary metal and glass. On until August 31.
Marian Hosking makes small precious objects primarily in silver that reflect her interaction with the natural world. It is an interest that goes back to her childhood as her mother was a conservationist who was particularly interested in plants. Small fragments of nature such as seed pods, sprays of leaves and flowers represent the botanical world as well as seashells and coral from the coastal foreshores inhabit the artist's creative "garden".
Two years ago the artist moved to the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. This and a trip to northwestern Australia have informed her current choice of imagery and materials.
Hosking usually works in silver, a material she favours for its luminosity. Sometimes it is blackened by oxidation giving it a matt velvety surface patina that changes with time. Other materials include mother of pearl with its deep intense and creamy lustre, small beads made from semi-precious gemstones and synthetic sapphires, rubies, agate and reconstructed lapis lazuli.
Whatever you may see in these small objects, the artist says "the moment is yours to keep".
For some works, silicon moulds are made from plants and shells. The resulting object cast in silver reproduces in fine structural detail the intricate patterning of nature; in other works such as Wren ring the imagery of plants and birds is depicted worked in low relief on oval silver disks.
In the Six leaves brooch, small leaves are gathered together like a posy. In the Bloodwood leaves brooch, the leaves are clustered together with the silver being heat-worked to give their surface a richly coloured golden patina. The motif of a single eucalyptus leaf is a form that the artist has returned to over the years - here it is used as a brooch as in Single leaf brooch. Mother of pearl shell is another material the artist uses as a soft luminous contrast to the darkened surface of oxidised silver in brooches using the repeated motif of the oval (Double black and white brooch).
Plants and shells from the seashore are created in silver for another series of works. Strands of seaweed form delicate networks of patterns on the surface of brooches while in rings of coral, sea urchins and shells cast in silver, geometric structures are highlighted. Other rings are made in the form of oval disks cut from opal, chrysophrase, synthetic sapphire and lapis lazuli. Their elegant styling allows the colour in the stones to be fully realised.
Also on display in this exhibition is a major work, Gum leaf necklace, made in 2014. This stunning necklace is constructed by two layers of silver gum leaves that have been linked together like a garland. Their fine network of veins provide delicate traceries of patterns. In its bountiful fusion of silver leaves and fine workmanship, it reminded me of the wreaths of gold leaves excavated from royal tombs that one encounters in Greek antiquities museums.
In 2007 Marian Hosking was designated as Living Treasure: Master of Australian Craft by Object Gallery in Sydney. She has been working as an artist and academic for over 40 years. This exhibition shows the assured maturity and creative skill of an artist who is alive to nature and sees, as the poet William Blake says, "a world in a grain of sand". Whatever you may see in these small objects, the artist says "the moment is yours to keep".