News

ANU School of Art students set to shine at Design Canberra

Monday, 23 November 2023

To some people, Simon Azzopardi’s knife may look like an ordinary knife. Albeit a very well-crafted, artisanal kind of knife. It’s a knife that he’s exhibiting in the Multiples and Production exhibition, one of four events the ANU School of Art is featuring as part of the DESIGN Canberra Festival.

 

Once the knife has finished its life as a display piece, it will join a fork and a spoon Simon has had for the past ten years.

 

Ten years ago, Simon was living in a share house that, as many share houses do, had a mixed cutlery set. One of the forks in this collection had a name engraved on the back of it: Francis.

 

Simon never met Francis. But he used Francis’ fork, and another spoon from the share house set, every day that he lived there. He developed what he describes as “an emotional attachment” to these utensils.

 

“When I moved on from that share house, I rescued that little fork and spoon and carried this odd set with me for nearly a decade all over the world,” Simon says.

 

Simon searched for a suitable knife to accompany his other two utensils. When his search proved fruitless, he decided to make one instead.

 

The art in the Multiples and Production exhibition have similarly interesting stories behind them and are products of a particular kind of thinking. They are a response to a going concern: that of the continued production of items in a world full of stuff. Students were challenged to think about sustainability, disposability and how we consume and understand domestic objects.

 

Simon’s knife is a product of this process of interrogation and creation. It’s among a collection of artworks that dare to suggest: how about we produce fewer ‘things’ and instead create objects that have greater value, durability, and meaning.

 

This approach permeates the three other School of Art exhibitions in DESIGN Canberra – and is an undercurrent of the School’s teaching of Design.

 

Head of the Glass Workshop Richard Whiteley was enthusiastic about this opportunity to showcase the design thinking within the School’s culture.

 

“The School is very well known as an excellent centre for graduating visual artists. But we also have a design degree. Our Design students work in identifying design problems and solving those,” Richard says.

 

“That very interesting grey area between creative thinking to solve a design problem, and the creative thinking of original one-off artworks is also a territory that a number of our students explore, particularly in the areas of craft and design.”

 

The pieces that will be on display range from seemingly innocuous items that demand closer inspection to those that are so aesthetically unique that they inspire curiosity about the intention behind them.

 

Third year Design student Tundi-Rose Hammond’s Coil Creatures belong to this latter category. Richard describes Tundi’s pieces, which will feature in the Graduate Exhibition, as being like wearable sculptures. And they can actually be worn, as demonstrated in Tundi’s photos and video of her Creatures. At rest, sitting quietly on the ground, the white upside-down cones bristle with potentiality.

 

Tundi explains that her Coil Creatures XXL explore “childhood imagination through the use of anthropomorphized objects, creating a sense of play.”

 

The Creatures are made, surprisingly, from packing foam and white cable ties. Tundi cut the roll of foam in half and braided the two halves together, fashioning a rope. All up, 500 metres of hand spun rope was used and 5,000 – 6,000 cable ties.

 

Using everyday material was an important part of the idea behind her art. Tundi says that she thought about her childhood, “and how I would imagine and create toys from things around the house, and these things would form into my friends each with its own personality. How I moved and played with each toy portrayed its character.”

 

While the spiky look created by the cable ties suggests ‘Don’t touch!’ in gently squeezing the foam rope, one is struck by the urge to squeeze repeatedly. There is something irresistible about the feel of the material and the way it gives and slowly regains form.

 

Graduating Honours student Harriet Lee Robinson’s work is designed to be handled and interacted with.

 

“It has these interesting textures and varied textures,” Harriet says. “I wanted to reward that extended engagement by having these subtle details you wouldn’t necessarily discover by just glancing over them and moving on.”

 

Her pieces, which feature in the Graduate Exhibition, are crafted from sheets of different types of metals. One piece, ‘Beach House Rock’, takes its shape from a rock that Harriet had. The wavy cut-outs along one opening and the variation in the paint is reminiscent of waves on a beach.

 

Next year, Harriet, Tundi and Simon will each be embarking on the next stage of their lives – and the first of their careers. They leave having benefited from a world-class education at the School of Art; one which, as Richard says, helps students develop their own ideas and doesn’t treat them as a cohort.

 

“Students leave having been provided a community of learning: getting the sensitivities and the skills of creative industries, but developing their own voice within that.”

 

Harriet will be returning to the School of Art next year to do a graduate residency. Tundi is unsure of where her future will take her. But armed with her talents and three years of hands-on School of Art learning, she won’t have to worry.

 

 

DESIGN Canberra launches on 19 November and runs until 29 November.

 

Here are further details on the four School of Art events that feature in the festival program. One highlight is the Graduating Exhibition, which showcases the work of graduating students from across the School of Art. The Graduating Exhibition has its grand opening at 6pm on Friday, 27 November at the School of Art, and will run until 6 December.

ANU School of Art students set to shine at Design Canberra
Sample Image Credit: Simon Cotrell. ‘Beach House Rock’ by Harriet Lee Robinson.
Sample Image Credit: Timothy Crotchet. By Simon Azzopardi.
Sample Image Credit: Chelsea lemon.
Sample Image Credit: Tundi-Rose Hammond

To some people, Simon Azzopardi’s knife may look like an ordinary knife. Albeit a very well-crafted, artisanal kind of knife. It’s a knife that he’s exhibiting in the Multiples and Production exhibition, one of four events the ANU School of Art is featuring as part of the DESIGN Canberra Festival.

Rolfe Classic BMW
CBD
Clarity Communications
Her Canberra
ZOO