Defying the cold with desert art & conceptual jewellery

It was the evening before Canberra's earliest coldest day since 1970: wet, windy, and the chill was building up rapidly. Canberra doesn't scare that easily, and we still managed to get a fabulous crowd for the opening of our latest pair of exhibitions. 

In these HANDS: Mara nyangangka

Our first speaker wasn't impressed with the cold. Ernabella Arts artist Pepau Jangala Carroll (above, in front of his painting, with Slavica Zivkovic) was bundled up warmly for his informal floor talk to about 45 people, which took place just before the formal proceedings. 

By the time he had finished, the room was really filling up. Board Chair Graham Humphries introduced us to Sturt co-curator Slavica Zivkovic, who told us stories of the long relationship between Sturt craft centre and Ernabella Arts. She encouraged us all to delve into the stories behind each work on display: they are held in the gallery for visitors to read, and there are two catalogues to read. We will be sharing some of those stories on social media via our Facebook page and our Instagram feed during the run of the exhibition.


There's a wide variety of works, including paintings, stoneware ceramics, batik and objects made from Tjanpi (wild harvested grass), raffia and wool. There are also historical works, as this is a touring exhibition to celebrate 70 years of Ernabella Arts activity in collaboration with Sturt.

Caption: Lynette Lewis, Donkey Looking for Something. Tjanpi, raffia, acrylic yarn, raffia. 


Sabine Pagan, ENGRAM

The second speaker, award-winning University of Canberra Architecture academic Ann Cleary, moved the crowd into the second half of the gallery, because she wanted to speak directly to the works. 

She spoke of the intellectual rigour of Pagan's conceptual jewellery practice, it's deep connections to landscape and architecture, and her investigation of space and materiality. She talked about the way materials drive design for architects and how true this was for Pagan as well, as she draws upon a throrough knowledge of how various metals react singly, in combination, and with other materials. 

Sabine Pagan's work is predominantly a series of rings, along with photographic prints and a video that situate the objects as small sculpture that perform as site specific works when worn on the body. There are also a series of small wallworks and brooches, titled Nocture

Sabine Pagan, detail from Environments, print series, 2016. 

Craft ACT is delighted with this initial reception to both of our new exhibitions. We hope that you also brave this wintery Autumn weather to come and see both shows for yourself.