Impressive exhibitions at Craft ACT

Phoebe Porter: Mechanical Sampling. Various artists: Material Codes; The Teapot Project; and Glass Utopia. Craft ACT. Until December 14.

by Kerry-Anne Cousins

This four-part exhibition is linked with the Craft ACT 2019 DESIGN Canberra Festival - an annual November event that has become established as an opportunity for the public and the arts community to engage with the rich visual art and design scene in our region.

The theme of this exhibition is making and designing objects and the process involved in bringing a creative concept to fruition.

In Material Codes, artists Nyx Mathews, Kristina Neumann and Thomas O'Hara have arranged their works in a showcase like a wunderkammer, or cabinet of wonders.

These artists' works are very different but they have in common a desire to follow a process and be true to the materials with which they are engaged.

Mathews' delicate little sculptures in mixed media are like the material personification of fragments of poetic imagery.

His two sculptures Gesture (unmake me, remake) and Gesture (three) are enigmatic works of truncated white leather fingers. Adrift from any context, they look like fingers of drowned men.

O'Hara's sculptural wood pieces are monumental albeit on a small scale - his dark and polished wooden sculpture Torsion Seam made in Spotted Gum is primeval.

Neumann works with silver and metal. Despite its intimate scale, her individual jewellery such as the Pillars and Crinkle Cut earrings in silver and stainless steel, suggests an architectural link to a much grander vision.

The Teapot Project demonstrates how to design an aesthetically pleasing, useful teapot that salutes its traditional antecedents while being perfectly at home in a contemporary context.

Artists Hendrik Foster and Kenny Son have collaborated to design this well-balanced, elegant teapot with its essential component of an insert to hold tea leaves.

The teapot comes in clever mix and match variations of materials including metals, wood and acrylic with polished coloured or patinated metal surfaces.

Such a teapot could be regarded as a luxury item but it would last a lifetime - a counterbalance to a throwaway philosophy.

Phoebe Porter is the 2019 Design Canberra designer-in-residence.

A video of the artist at work demonstrates her use of heavy machinery to produce her rings as well as her painstaking hand finishing process.

Her broad band rings, although quite restrained in style, are enlivened with engraved patterns and different coloured metals and several are set with precious stones in unusual settings.

Two band rings - Diamond Cut Ring-Blue and Cross Cut Ring-Green/Pink with their rims of anodised titanium are particularly unusual and attractive with only the subtlest suggestion of colour that seems to hover over their surface.

Glass Utopia is an exhibition of glass designed to express the 2019 DESIGN Canberra Festival theme of utopia.

It also pays tribute to the distinguished architect Enrico Taglietto (1926-2019) who installed the Murano glass chandelier in the Italian Embassy in Canberra in 1967.

Six local artists are joined by six Italian artists to produce a delectable table of glass and light inspired by the chandelier.

Among them are lustrous dark bowls by Mel Douglas whose inky black interiors seem infinite and Elizabeth Kelly's high stack of glossy glass forms that are fluid like poured treacle.

Peter Bowles' dense glass vessels have intricate complex patterns like the markings on bird feathers while Federico Peri's two warm coloured glass light shades embrace practicality with both style and elegance.

This article originally appeared on Canberra Times.