Today’s earrings are hot off the press. I have been working for a while on a collaboration that I was doing with Annette* from Dissonance Fashion for a fashion parade that Trove Canberra had planned. Obviously the fashion parade has been postponed but I am still excitedly working away with the fabric swatches and drawings that Annette gave me. Part of my intention was to just play with the colours and work with different ideas that I had learnt, invented, liked or made by mistake. I want to really make exploration a big part of this.
As I mentioned before, I have been playing with ideas about mark making triggered by Sage Bray in her wonderful Virtual Art Box. I’ve also been looking at ways of combining veneers and colour. Someone whose work I have loved for decades now is Bonnie Bishoff. I was transported by the pieces made by Bonnie and her partner J.M Syron which combined Bonnie’s skills with polymer and her husband’s cabinet making skills. Just stunning. What a handy husband.
Over the years, Bonnie has made different kinds of sculptural and practical pieces and, more recently, jewellery. Her voice is so clear and her style so distinct. There are several artists who use a cut and replace technique with polymer veneers and Bonnie’s is just so vibrant and joyful and celebratory. I have also used this technique but more often with blends or veneers made from repeated canes. Bonnie uses both caning and colour blending. The earrings I am wearing today are the result of me trying to do what Bonnie did. The really important step though is the next one (that isn’t counting the message I sent to Bonnie about buying earrings…)
When someone has a really clear, distinctive style, I don’t want to copy it. It was the same when I did some online courses with Dan Cormier. If the result simply was that I could make something like Dan’s, or like Bonnie’s (and it would NEVER BE AS GOOD) then I have sold myself short. And when I teach my own classes, students might initially make something very much like something I have shown them. But I REALLY want them to use what they have learnt to connect with their own voice. (Such a laden word but I can’t think of a better one at the moment.) To make something that is authentically THEM.
Only Bonnie Bishoff can make art like Bonnie Bishoff. Any copy is usually very obviously a copy and just lacks the…singing. The authenticity. Now that I have made some veneers that look a bit like sorry imitations of what Bonnie does, I want to work out, not how to make them better imitations, but how those techniques and skills can work in the pieces I want to make. Because Bonnie’s work is the star here my earrings will take a very small role in the wings. For a feast of visual sumptuousness (Mum, you will LOVE this) just go to her website and drool.
*Annette is the amazing woman who made my goddess dress.