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Unwearable

Exhibition  /  21 Sep 2007  -  11 Oct 2007
Published: 19.09.2007
Lisa Walker. Brooch: Untitled, 2007. Acrylic, paint, silver, laquer, plastic. Lisa Walker
Brooch: Untitled, 2007
Acrylic, paint, silver, laquer, plastic
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.

Intro
(...) I have more demands on how a piece should look now. The strength a finished piece has, the quality it has, its presence, has become more important than before. (...)

Artist list

Lisa Walker
Excerpt from a text by Damian Skinner for the soon to be published book Unwearable by Darling Publications in Cologne.


But the story behind this series is a larger moment of recognition and consolidation in Walker’s practice as a jeweller. Let me quote all the statements that Walker has grouped together as relevant for this body of work:

2005 - Project description for Creative NZ grant

I began looking outside of what was comfortable and normal for me to make. I readdressed all the forms, colours, materials and ideas I´d not only always worked with in my art, but that I´d simply been surrounded with since childhood. I started working with what was uncomfortable, opposite and foreign. And of course my reference points were often about New Zealand, the applied arts and jewellery movement in New Zealand and the 70´s New Zealand aesthetic I grew up with.

What´s interesting now however, is that this personal “rebel“ phase is coming to a bit of an end. My concerns have changed. Now I´m sure it would be interesting to go back and look at those shapes, colours, and materials I couldn´t stand a few years ago. I would deal with them now in quite a different way. This then is the idea for my project – “SHAPES I USED TO LIKE“ – an investigation into the shapes, colours and materials that come naturally to me, but that I needed for a long time to reject.

2007 - Answer to an emailed question from a student in London:

(Student): I am finding it interesting to try to discover why I want to rebel against the conventional idea of the beautiful object. Do you see yourself as a rebel?
(Me): I don´t see myself as a rebel exclusively, though sometimes things piss me off and I deal with that in my work. I rebelled against myself for a long time. That was quite challenging.

2007 - Daniel Kruger is a South African jeweller who´s been living in Germany about 30 years. He often works with an aesthetic that I totally recognise. Seeing him do it so incredibly well just blew my mind. Jesus, what jewellery he makes. So, you can work with this aesthetic but do it well, celebrate it, make it good, make it interesting. This is what I´m trying now to do.

2007 - I have more demands on how a piece should look now. The strength a finished piece has, the quality it has, its presence, has become more important than before.

These statements describe a complex dynamic, in which a number of things come together. Walker’s own definition of what she does – the markers of success or failure, the rules of practice that she has developed over the last decade – have undergone a kind of clarification or codification. She now has a better sense of the rules of her practice, and she demands that these rules be satisfied in each piece. This has had the effect of trimming her production, subtly changing what she does. All of the work in ‘The shapes I used to like’ is recognisable as a Lisa Walker, yet it also marks a departure from what comes before. Combined with this is a lessening of the need to position herself as a rebel, struggling against her own history as a maker in an attempt to buck various externally and internally imposed identities. As she describes it, her ‘rebel’ phase is coming to an end, in favour of a new confidence and security in what she produces, allowing her to re-examine all the things she left behind when she got to Munich and discovered glue.

I have tackled ‘The shapes I used to like’ before. On that occasion I noted the following problem:

It can be hard to make sense of Walker’s list of aesthetic features she denied herself. While organic forms and spirals make sense as culturally loaded symbols of the identity jewellery Walker wished to shrug off when she moved to Germany, her mention of stacks, layers, dots and balls is more puzzling, since these would seem to be the very substance of her jewellery after she discovered glue and stitching. It is a fascinating glimpse of the rules and conventions that structure Walker’s jewellery but which are so well hidden by the sense of the arbitrary and casual that her jewellery evokes through its ‘gung ho’ practices and catholic use of materials. There were, so Walker makes clear, aesthetic elements that could not even be incorporated into her work at the heights of her rebellion against her early jewellery training, and it is only now that she is able to adopt them in her work.

I still can’t answer this puzzle, and I find it hard to identify what would make the works in ‘The shapes I used to like’ acceptable now and not acceptable five or ten years ago. With the exception of the sheer audacity required to pull off some of these pieces, they seem characteristically part of Walker’s practice. Fabric is stitched and glued, in necklaces and brooches that demonstrate Walker’s interest in haberdashery and fabric stores, and the Treasure Houses of Munich. The work is still funny and bizarre – a necklace of plastic eyes looking back at the viewers who might stare wide-eyed at the plucky individual who would put it on; or the pink boots attached to a zip, some kind of strange toy? A feminist statement?; and the brooch which demonstrates a use for golf tees never imagined by the manufacturer. For every plastercine spiral and feather lei – things that would have been unimaginable for Walker in the years after her departure from Aotearoa – there are works that seem characteristically iconoclastic and interested in pursuing the test of what jewellery is, and how it does its work – an examination that is an important part of Walker’s practice.

Importantly, I now realise that this is the wrong question to be asking. The point of ‘The shapes I used to like’ is not a kind of aesthetic detective work, in which the canny viewer might find evidence of new forms and materials in Walker’s work. The issue is entirely conceptual. It is, in other words, an internal struggle that Walker has finally managed to answer, or balance. She can return home, and stay away, and both provide her with satisfaction and food for her practice. What’s changed is the need for ambiguity. Notably, in ‘The shapes I used to like’, sheep are entirely absent.

Remarks

Artist LISA WALKER
will present a lecture and slide show at 
Studio 4903 
Thursday September 21st at 7 PM   
4903 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, 2nd floor
Washington DC 20016
Tel: 202.248.8770

Lisa Walker. Necklace: Untitled, 2007. Fresh water pearls, wool. Lisa Walker
Necklace: Untitled, 2007
Fresh water pearls, wool
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Lisa Walker. Brooch: Untitled, 2007. Plastic, silicon, silver, laquer, glue, string. Lisa Walker
Brooch: Untitled, 2007
Plastic, silicon, silver, laquer, glue, string
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Lisa Walker. Brooch: Untitled, 2007. Felt, acrylic, paint, silver, laquer. Lisa Walker
Brooch: Untitled, 2007
Felt, acrylic, paint, silver, laquer
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Lisa Walker. Brooch: Untitled, 2007. Felt, glue, silver, laquer. Lisa Walker
Brooch: Untitled, 2007
Felt, glue, silver, laquer
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Lisa Walker. Brooch: Brooch, 2007. Plastic, rubber, aluminium, deer fur, polystyrene, silver.. 15 x 11 x 8 cm. Photo by: Lisa Walker. Lisa Walker
Brooch: Brooch, 2007
Plastic, rubber, aluminium, deer fur, polystyrene, silver.
15 x 11 x 8 cm
Photo by: Lisa Walker
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Lisa Walker. Brooch: Untitled, 2006. Fabric, plastic, wood, stichy tape, silver, laquer. Lisa Walker
Brooch: Untitled, 2006
Fabric, plastic, wood, stichy tape, silver, laquer
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Lisa Walker. Brooch: Untitled, 2007. Plastic, wood. Lisa Walker
Brooch: Untitled, 2007
Plastic, wood
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
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