Phoebe’s steady hand is needed to guide the tools and custom-adapted machines to cut, fold, file and finish each bracelet. For this family of bracelets she envisioned complex tooling to automate her painstaking process. What was found instead was that simple combinations of hand and hammer meant she could change material thickness and width quickly, allowing her to work directly and test each individual piece without relying on complicated tooling.
Phoebe deliberately chooses to express each finishing point and fastening mechanism. This approach resonates through her past collections. The expression of rivets, seams, clasps, connections, joints and hand dyed anodised aluminium spacers are drawn forward through Unfold.
The square and the circle form the origins of the bracelets. Later generations balance these two forms together. Addition, subtraction, combination and reduction create each generation, as well as the necessary tension in the folded titanium for clasping, connection or release of the bracelet.
They imbue a sense of industrial parts that have an essential number of elements to make a greater machine work. The bracelets are refined Industrial. But they are not just that. Each is a parti or expression of essential elements, akin to a diagram. What is the diagram of? Depending on ones experience they may look like the plan of a building, an electrical circuit layout, a section through a loft, or (when placed together in multiples) like a series of city blocks.
Laid out together for Unfold they form a language that speaks of Phoebe’s generative approach. This welcomes us to witness the relationships and differences between each bracelet. It also gives insight into Phoebe’s inquisitive nature, generous spirit and openness to share her process. This is reinforced with the inclusion of tooling and video documentation in the exhibition, alongside the finished works. The video documentation is a beautiful collaboration with Sal Cooper. It reveals the rhythm of each step in Phoebe’s making process and captures her steady hand working with the tools and machines; moments hidden within each of the finished pieces.
Though unique in form, each bracelet shares a smoothness to touch and comfort to wear. The scale of the material thickness relates to the body, where the subtle balance of strength with lightness makes wearing effortless. Phoebe is acutely aware of the importance of jewellery in one’s life. They are gifts that mark important occasions and are living pieces that express a person’s interests, ideas of self and individuality. They live in the personal moments of the wearer.
Unfold ultimately shares the personal moments of Phoebe’s making process. Phoebe’s gift to us is the gift of knowledge; of personal insight, her process of discovery through making, refinement and sharing.
Essay: Christina Waterson 2012
Video: Sal Cooper 2012
Images: James Braund and Andrew Sikorski 2012
Exhibition: 19 October – 1 December 2012
Craft Victoria 31 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
This project was assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.