The Australian National Brooch Show 2014

Review by Joy Elizabeth Lea

2014 hails the 7th year of the CAS Brooch Show

The Australian National Brooch Show, an exhibition of small wearable artworks, was opened on Saturday April 12, at 2pm in The Fitzroy Library by Robert Lee, the President of the Contemporary Art Society of Victoria Inc. This year CAS had 84 entrants, and 278 pieces of artwork from the artists. Brooches came from across the City of Yarra, the suburbs of Melbourne, country Victoria and every State and Territory, including many rural and regional areas. Artists in the show have been creative with materials and offer an eclectic mix of subjects and materials with entries reflecting the artistic skills, creativity and jewellery making skills of entrants.

Materials evident in the brooches are embellished textile and fabric, lace, felt, leather, canvas and plastic. Metals like copper, stainless steel, aluminium, white gold, sterling silver and metal chain. Beautiful beads including freshwater pearls, rhinestones, glass and crystal beads, amethyst, stone, sequins and moonstone are evident. Found objects such as bone, wood, sea shells, seaweed, bamboo, manmade found objects such as vintage watch faces, buttons, coins, clay, paper and resin. Enamel and polymer clay are also in the art works. Printmaking techniques have also been adapted for brooch making, with printmakers using methods such as linocut, mono printing, copper etching and aquatint.

Concerning the work, there are two modes of entry into the brooch show, either the ‘Make Your Own’ or the ‘Wearable Art Card’. The ‘Make Your Own’ option can be three dimensional, and the artist can use 3D objects such as the aforementioned beads, stones, feathers, plastic, wire and other findings on your own structure, with a maximum size of 10 x 5 x 3 cm. The artists attach a brooch pin themselves.

The ‘Wearable Art Card’ is a two dimensional brooch and artists may use pen & ink, watercolour, pasted images, gouache or acrylic paints or any drawing or painting material they wish. The CAS volunteers laminate each ‘Wearable Art Card’ and mount it with a brooch pin. Maximum size for the ‘Wearable Art Cards’ is: height 7.9cm x width 4.7cm. Artists who usually work in a large format have adapted their art making skills to produce some amazing wearable art.

Source matter has varied considerably amongst the entrants, and those who have chosen to use ‘the portrait’ as subject include Neda Starac with her brooch Hellenic, a painted plaster which harkens to the ancient mythological and Greek sculptures. She , a work by Cheryle Bannon, is a quirky little piece of clay, metal, beads and wood. Full Stops by Kylie Castan is an embroidery on felt, using both floss and thread. Rona Sissons has used poliwood to create four contemporary impressions of Tony, Joe, Julie and Clive. Can the viewer guess as to whom these faces belong? Adrienne Crouch has created Demonicus, a work in acrylic and resin depicting an adapted generic tribal mask in strikingly rich complimentary colours.

Nature as a source and subject is to be found in each of the four brooches made by Ricardo Alves Ferriera. He has used shells, driftwood, kelp root and rock as the inspiration and base for each piece. His choice of embellishment is both sympathetic and enhancing to each natural object. Pearlescent, created from an intricately lined and shaped piece of kelp root found washed up on a beach, has been used as the holder of precious natural pearls, each sitting in the natural depression the sea weed has created as it has been eroded away from its base. Another of Ricardo’s brooches is Lace, a work created from the underside of what appears to be a limpet shell. The soft pearl inside holds a small gemstone, which is held in place by intricate embroidery within the natural depression by a lace of seed beads. Each embellishment is sympathetic to the natural object.

The animal and bird kingdom has also been used as a source for artistic design and this is observed in the porcelain pieces Purple Birdie Lace and Blue Birdie Lace, both created by Ilkay Dere, who has used a pressed lace design to give a texture to each bird.

Rat Pack, a work designed using a spherical base and created in porcelain clay, holds a family of sweet little white rats, all of whom are peering out at the world from their intricately worked little faces. Quirky creatures abound in the work of Cressida Fox in Possums, Platypus and Cats, all of which are worked in coloured pencil.

A cheeky fox sits on his haunches in Don’t Count Your Chickens, a work in rigid styrene and acrylic by Cara Moran, just as the chattering birds sit on a fence in Fence Talking, a work by Shelley Doidge, created using paper clay with under glazes.

Yvonne Jemmeson has created four works using ink, acrylic and air dry clay. Penguin 1 and Penguin 2, Frill Necked Lizard and Green Tree Frog exhibit a strong use of line in these black and white works. Silver Wolf by Alicia Lane is constructed using polymer clay and cubic zirconia to create a curious and shapely work.

Acrylic on paper is the choice of material used by Kathe Bibi Ostermark to create her four feline themed brooches, Charlie, Tilly, Kitty and Lucy. These pieces are also black and white, each one depicting a cocooned ‘pussy cat’ within a confined space. There is a mythical Paper Dragon to be found in the abstract paper work by Eva Dell Neel. Julia Dimitriadis has created a moth or a butterfly in Shimmerly, using metal and glass beads in blue and silver colours. Evidence of design and use of beading skills are evident in this pleasing and harmonious work.

Landscape as the subject has been chosen by some of the entrants and this is evident in the intaglio etchings by Deirdre Edwards, to be found in Dusk, Morning Light, The Fence and Among the Ghost Gums. Soft monotone hues with the stark contrasting line of the tree trunks create interesting and engaging works.

Jodie Stone has created a childlike drawing in Childhood Images, a generic sun rising between two hills, a work in pen and pencil. Gail Stiffe has created her own paper and palette in the rugged landscape pieces Apollo Bay 1, Apollo Bay 2 and Apollo Bay 3, each created from handmade paper reminiscent of the lines of the rock faces in the ocean cliffs, also reminiscent of ancient landscapes constructed with a use of warm earth tones.

Printmaker Damon Kowarsky has made etchings on plywood to create images reminiscent of the landscape. Bromeliad is a work technically about a plant, with the plant leaves depicted as an abstract landscape image. Both Temple and Towers are reminiscent of urban landscapes to be found in a culture other than that of the west.

There are many brooches, each reflecting both the work and artistic skills of each entrant. To view the remainder of the brooches, visit the CAS website at:

There is a brooch for every person to be found in the wide range of styles and images as well as the very modest price ranges to be found for each of the brooches. There is truly something for everyone. Sales have been brisk so if you are looking for an artistic piece of wearable art, go no further than this inspiring brooch exhibition.

Click on image below to see a few photos of setup and the show...

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