2019 Designer-in-Residence

Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre is thrilled to announce acclaimed Canberra contemporary jeweller, Phoebe Porter, has been selected as the 2019 DESIGN Canberra designer-in-residence.

Phoebe was commissioned to create the 2019 signature artwork which will feature in a Craft ACT exhibition and throughout the festival’s visual communications. The work has been created in response to the 2019 festival theme of utopia and the festival’s celebration of the Bauhaus 100thanniversary.

“We are delighted to welcome Phoebe Porter as DESIGN Canberra’s 2019 designer-in-residence. Her stunning new work is contemporary, thought-provoking, beautiful, intelligent, world-class and grounded in authentic, quality local design. Phoebe is a celebrated and respected member of Canberra’s contemporary craft and design community and her signature artwork expresses everything we hope to achieve for this year’s DESIGN Canberra festival,” said CEO/Artistic Director Rachael Coghlan.

Referencing the form of the crane (familiar in Canberra skylines today), Phoebe’s new work, Elements of Balance, is deceptively simple. Two contrasting elements of equal weight balance each other perfectly. 5 grams of gold (a highly valued traditional material) is balanced against 5 grams of aluminium (an industrial material, representing progress and contemporary mass-produced objects of desire).

Porter explains: “To me, utopia is a vision of the ideal way to live in an ideal environment. But there is a central tension embodied in that concept: striving to achieve a state of utopia requires the careful balance of competing values to attain a harmonious society and life.”

“On a personal level, many of us struggle to balance our passions, commitments and responsibilities in a way that feels satisfying and sustainable for a meaningful life. This same tension underpins broader systems such as city planning whether it be the tension between providing enough housing while retaining green and open spaces, or between providing fast transport solutions while retaining a beautiful civic centre,” said Porter.

Porter was selected as the 2019 designer-in-residence for the quality of her work, the rigour of her practice and the symmetry of her work to the 2019 festival theme.

Having graduated from the Gold and Silversmithing workshop at the ANU School of Art and Design in 2001, Porter was tutored by German-born Silversmith, Johannes Kuhnen and mentored by Australian jeweller, Blanche Tilden. Porter’s work has recently been exhibited in the Embassy of Australia in Washington DC, is featured in several Australian public collections including National Gallery of Australia and the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. An Accredited Professional Member of Craft ACT, Porter has exhibited nationally and globally and is rapidly making her mark in the Australian design industry.

Porter skillfully combines precious and industrial metals in her gold and silversmithing practice, striving for order and balance and seeking to reduce each piece to its necessary elements. Throughout her practice, Porter interrogates traditional values and ideas of what is precious, using jewellery as a lens to examine greater themes. Her current practice reflects more than 20 years of innovative exploration of wearable and sculptural forms, combining stainless steel, titanium and aluminum with precious elements such as gold and silver.

Porter is strongly influenced by the Bauhaus and Constructivist movements. She explains her new work “draws on the Bauhaus methodology of playful experimentation with colour and form. The contrast of light and heavy line weights used in Bauhaus graphic design is referenced in the work by using solid coloured components alongside a very fine titanium blade and gold chain.”

Porter’s work has been applied to the festival’s visual communication by graphic designer, Mat Colley from Foundry and will be applied in a digital environment by Michael Honey from Icelab. The 2019 design team of Phoebe, Mat and Michael is an exciting collaboration of different but complementary experience to help to take the festival to a new level of visibility and impact.

Image: Elements of Balance, by Phoebe Porter. Photo: Andrew Sikorski