Photograph courtesy of the artist.
One of my initial inspirations for starting Isiiad was the Yarra Valley Open Studio Program. I was truly gobsmacked by the talent on my doorstep and just couldn't get enough of it. Blogging means that I have a great reason to get to know the artists better. It means I'm surrounded by creative people and am inspired to be creative myself. I'm enjoying the interconnectedness so evident in that community. Fathers, sons, friends and colleagues all working together to support and enrich one another...the best of all communities. It has become a great example of the phenomenon whereby the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
So it seems only fitting that I should devote some of August to this years program, due to kick off in the middle of September. What better place to start than with the maker of fine jewellery- Tim Peel. Tim is a leading light in the administration of the Open Studios Program, as well as one of the forty plus artists who open their studios to the public.
The Open Studio Program initially grew from an idea kicked around by Tim and friends over a good glass of Yarra Valley red. In just under three years it's taken its place as a huge feature on the Yarra Valley arts calendar. It's a phenomenal, award winning success story. Thousands of people flock to the Valley to enjoy all that it offers. Meeting the artists in their studios. The region's wine...who could resist a little wine tasting after viewing the exhibition at Sticks Winery in their barrel room...ahh that aroma! The stunning Yarra Valley views enjoyed on the drives between studios and the food stops in between ( the options are many and varied but the use of local produce is unbeatable). It's true that with all of that 'raw material' it was a winner before it started, but their clever, high quality marketing and admin. has undoubtedly contributed to its meteoric rise.
Tim's work day is juggled between Open Studios administration, dealing with customers, running his own business and making jewellery. He's been making jewellery in one way or another since he was five years old. He loves everything about it. The gemstones, the metals, the techniques. The undeniable pleasure of making a thing of beauty that can be worn and enjoyed forever. His home is purpose built with a gallery/workshop called Silvermist Studio at the front. His jewellery is undeniably gorgeous- modern day jewellery with the history of ages gathered into its design. Several pieces sorely tempted me. But a really interesting thing was revealed when I asked about his creative process. That's the part of his work that excites him most. He has begun making art using gemstones and metal to form sculptural statements of great elegance and beauty (see the photo at the top of this post). These pieces form a body of work titled Terror Australis, making statements about the less attractive aspects of our country. The work at the top of this post is in response to the 2009 bushfires that decimated parts of the Yarra Valley and surrounding areas. The drawings below show some of the ideas that Tim is playing with for this series of work. Tim's passion for this creative work was palpable.
These drawings were inspired by Albert Tucker who so shockingly depicted the seamier side of Melbourne life. (His current exhibition at Heide Museum of Art shows some of the work hinted at in Tim's preliminary drawings above.)
Photograph courtesy of the artist.
I love to see artists and artisans who are continually pushing out the boundaries of their work. Tim is systematically investigating jewellery techniques from around the world to expand the possibilities within his jewellery design.
The Terra Australis series of jewellery differs from Terror Australis in that it's all about the landscape lovingly hinted at in silver, gold, semi precious and precious stones.
If you look very closely at the etching on the silver above, you will see the subtle suggestion of rolling Australian hills.
Photograph courtesy of the artist
Tim also finds endless inspirations from overseas travel. This piece is named "Parisienne Venus". It captures forever the curves of a Parisienne woman. Ahh Paris, any wonder I loved this one!
Tim is very drawn to the South of France. (His partner Liz is a self confessed francophile.) His desk is awash with images of favourite places, jewellery inspirations and endless drawings.
Tim's studio space showcases the work of other local artists as well as his own. I noticed work by Alistair Whyte and Elizabeth Vercoe to name just a few. Along with his creative genius, Tim has a very well developed sense of the importance of giving back to the community that has supported him. It's evident in his gallery, his work with the Open Studio Program and his dream to set up a Montsalvat-like retreat in his much loved Yarra Valley where artists can work, live and inspire one another. Judging by his impressive list of achievements so far, the realisation of that dream is very possible indeed.
His Silvermist Studio is at 136 Maroondah Highway, Healesville, Vic. Mud Glass Metal also carries his work and can be found on Maroondah Highway in the centre of the Healesville shopping strip. Both well worth a visit on your Open Studio's itinerary.
There are more peeks into artist's studios on their way. My camera is bursting with images of Malcolm Peel (Tim's father), Alistair Whyte and Sioux Dollman's work. Jenny Reddin, Margaret McLoughlin, Antonio Villella and Justin Purser are already tucked away on Isiiad. More information about the Open Studios Program, including maps and a profile on every artist can be found on their website.
All jewellery, sculpture and working drawings in this post are Tim Peel©.