Craft by Kerry-Anne Cousins. `Linked' - Carlier Makigawa. Bilk Gallery for Contemporary Metal and Glass. On until 29 February.
Carlier Makigawa has been making jewellery for four decades. The exhibition at Bilk Gallery includes jewellery that relates to these earlier years as well as work in the `Delirious in Uzbekistan' series, an indication of new influences and new beginnings.
Carlier Makigawa is well known for her jewellery designed create to spatial sculpture in relationship to the body. These spatial designs are made from networks of metal struts and links to delineate geometric forms. The body forms a vital element in these designs energising and bringing these works to life. Makigawa works in traditional metals of gold, silver and titanium and in other more complex materials such as monel, niobium and industrial aerated concrete.
In an interview with Adriane Dalton for Gallery Funaki, Melbourne, Makigawa noted that she had from childhood an interest in architecture and architectural blueprints with their linear indications of three dimensional space.
In the exhibition at Bilk there are two bracelets and a brooch that illustrate the artist's iconic way of working by joining together metal scaffolds of struts or links. The bracelets are a twisted network of these structural links in silver so that they wrap around the arm like an armature reflective of those used in building or sculpture to support a material mass.
These openwork structures that curve around the arm are punctuated by tiny irregular shapes in aerated concrete coloured in silver or black. The brooch is a looser network of irregular constructed links. The artist often places objects within these structures - pieces of pink and red coral, gold forms or coloured balls. Into this brooch she has inserted acid-green, pear shaped vintage beads caught in its twisted metal `net' like fish.
In `Delirious in Uzbekistan', a new body of work, Makigawa has drawn on her experiences in visiting Uzbekistan influenced by its architecture, its brilliantly coloured patterned tiles and textiles.
Uzbekistan's military role in the history of the Silk Route may have also inspired the artist. Chain mail with its original connection with body protection is now re-imagined as defining the body in a new contemporary means of adornment.
Makigawa has stated a wish `to explore simple geometric patterns using handmade jump rings to make complex structures that move over the body'. Each work (necklaces, bracelets and a ring) is named after the number of tiny handmade coiled links used in its construction.
These necklaces have a tactile quality that invites you to run them through your fingers like streamlets of water or to drape them around your body to fall where they may.
The necklaces end in heavy gatherings of mesh in pendant drops (necklace 992), in double rows of links (necklace 505) or knitted areas of mesh used like interlinked 'pendants' (necklace 667). In the small ring `ring173', the mesh is like quicksilver flowing over the ring in constant movement.
The blue, green and violet iridescent seams of colour become all the more brilliant and effective as they flicker in the light with the constant movement of the links of interwoven mesh.
Carlier Makigawa was one of the first artists to exhibit with Bilk Gallery so this exhibition is indeed a fitting flourish to the end of Bilk Gallery's presence in Manuka.
There are plans for Bilk's future which may take the form of events at various venues rather than a program of exhibitions.
In its 20-year history Bilk Gallery has provided a showcase for so much of the best of what is occurring in contemporary jewellery. It will be sorely missed.