This project, through the circulation of these brooches, raises the possibility of a republic in Australia as an opportunity for community renewal. Small local gestures, such as sharing gardens, bring home the potential of change through national independence.
The Wattle brooch has re–surfaced after a period with a couple from Melbourne. They didn’t post about their experiences with it and apologised for not engaging on the blog, realising that this is an important part of the project. They did however return the brooch to me, a wonderful testament to these temporary owners’ honesty and desire for the brooch to keep on keeping on.
A key reason Jamie gave for not engaging online was attributed to the difficulty of describing in English her experience of owning this brooch as English is not her first language. Jamie said she finds writing in English difficult and something she lacks confidence in. She also expressed that she hadn’t read the accompanying card or fully come to grips with the concepts inherent in taking on the work. Greg her husband, had taken custodianship of the Wattle brooch with the express desire that it be given to his wife. He had hoped through her engaging with it and the project that she could gain more understanding of the world of contemporary jewellery he wants her to be involved with, as this is his field and world.
This sort of jewellery and project asks a lot of the wearer – these brooches are not easy to own. Confidence about expressing their intent in order that they continue on their road means mastery of the dominant language attached to the project as an entry point. I hadn’t even considered the issue of language as being an impediment to being involved… Also the reasons for taking custodianship are so subjective – people engage with what resonates with them personally about the various themes at play in the project. The expectations assigned to these small objects and the promise of the return of good things is perhaps testimony to the fact that many of us hope for the best. Yet perhaps this sense of wanting a positive outcome needs to be tempered with the reality that not all expectations can be met.
The multitude of stories that are emerging and being attached to these objects as they journey out into multicultural Australia is proving rich and unique as each custodian moves within his or her own worlds. Can I speculate that perhaps at some stage one or some might enter a foreign speaking community for circulation, jump the ditch or even travel abroad? How will they translate then I wonder?
(o’ mice an’ men, meaning, the most carefully prepared plans may go wrong. From Robert Burns’ poem To a Mouse, 1786. It tells of how he, while ploughing a field, upturned a mouse’s nest. The resulting poem is an apology to the mouse:
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren’t alone]
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promised joy.
The poem is the source for the title of John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel – Of Mice and Men.
These are a bit late, but here is Elisha from FORM choosing names of the first recipients of the brooches. It’s great we’ve heard from one of the custodians and now we’re really looking forward to hearing from the other two!
Form have decided to extend the show until July 1st. I guess we’ll have to wait a bit longer until the pieces go into the wild …
Have a look at a post on Kevin Murray’s blog Craft Unbound — he discovered an interesting connection to a custom practised in Papua New Guinea that is not dissimilar to the idea of passing on objects to strangers.
If Australia is one day to become a republic then a new style of gardening to accompany a new style of governing seems possible. The three Broaching Change brooches have the symbolic potential to promote the social value of gardens as reflecting notions of community, that is the essence of republicanism.
The social aspects of gardening can be seen in community gardens, but these are not for everyone and much gardening is done within a residential setting. Many gardeners specialise growing what they love most, sharing any excess produce. With the potential for future transport, production and financial crises the garden as a producer of plants for use becomes more and more relevant.
This project seeks to engage with ideas to promote a model of gardening whereby a small micro community comes together in order to share their specialist plants or produce with others in that community for free, with no requirements for reciprocality. The symbolic connotation of giving altruistically has the potential to bring a system of sharing into existence at a local community level rather than on a more familial, friend or close neighbourly level where goods are often given freely.
How does it work?
The brooches, like the concepts inherent in the project are free – permanent ownership is not possible. Circulating in the wider community to generate discussion about the notions imbedded in them, a proviso for those who gain custodianship of the works is that various covenants be adhered to. These are outlined in a small manifesto that accompanies each brooch. Through promising to engage in the conditions required of the project, honesty and trust is required of the temporary owners as well as me the maker in giving over my work to an unknown end. There are no full proof guarantees this will happen but a leap of faith is sometimes required in order to bring about change.
The brooches are to be passed on if a viewer actively engages the wearer about the brooch and agrees to the covenants applying to the piece. On receipt of the work the new owner must visit the blog in order to indicate their temporary ownership and to participate in the dialogue opened up by this forum. Following the piece’s life and contributing to discussions acts as a way for all involved to engage with the work beyond the time spent with it.
Photographs courtesy of FORM.