‘Modern Mysticism’ expressions of ritual materiality, until 20 September

Vipoo Srivilasa, When I discover who I am, I’ll be free, series 2019. Courtesy the artist and JamFactory, South Australia

From ancient times to the present day humans have been drawn to the symbolic representation of sacred objects and imagery, as both inward and outward expressions of faith, belonging and identity, and have embraced the presence of iconography as a way to connect spiritual beliefs to otherworldly or divine powers through ritual, worship and ceremonial practices that are believed to bring healing, protection and good fortune.

Until 20 September, JamFactory in Adelaide is hosting ‘Modern Mysticism’, an exhibition of craft and design works made by six Victorian contemporary jewellers and ceramic artists. Peta Armstrong, Juan Castro, Emma Homfray, Vikki Kassioras, Tara Lofhelm and Vipoo Srivilasa explore myth, legend and religious custom through their artistic practices and manifest sacred, mythological and esoteric themes in ‘Modern Myticism’ with a display of jewellery designs and sculptural deities.

Curated by JamFactory Assistant Curator Caitlin Eyre, ‘Modern Mysticism’ invites audiences to reflect on personal experiences of ritual materiality, while also highlighting the role of artists in creating objects and symbols charmed with evocations of sacred meaning.

Peta Armstrong, Hoodoo, 2020. Courtesy the artist and JamFactory, South Australia

Multidisciplinary artist Peta Armstrong draws inspiration from images of symbolism and mythology in her ceramic practice and presents mask formed works in ‘Modern Mysticism’. “The ambiguity at play in these mask shaped pieces allows the viewer to attach their own stories to the artworks to facilitate meaning, healing and ritual, making them an important tool in personal analysis,” Eyre notes in the exhibition’s catalogue essay.

Religious adornments, iconography, ancient Mediterranean cultures, Byzantine jewellery, archaeology and antique treasures are key in the creation of Spanish-born Melbourne-based Juan Castro’s contemporary jewellery pieces. Emma Homfray’s talismanic creations draw on the artist’s knowledge and experiences of the occult and are tactile offerings for daily rituals of adornment, the arranging of objects, reflection and prayer.

Vikki Kassioras is a gold and silversmith inspired by the tales of classical mythology and she holds particular interest in the the aesthetics of ancient Greek and Etruscan jewellery. Kassioras exhibits contemporary jewellery pieces touched with sentiments of grief, sorrow and distress, which she has created using the ancient goldsmithing technique of fusing gold.

Vikki Kassioras, Algea, 2020, sterling silver, 65 mm (length) Photogrpah: Vikki Kassioras. Courtesy the artist and JamFactory, South Australia

Jewellery designer and maker Tara Lofhelm explores the devotional practices of ancient civilisations and although “created through the eyes of a curious non-believer, Lofhelm’s jewellery finds solid grounding within the long tradition of talismanic adornments made and worn for guardianship and protection against evil forces,” says the curator. Here we see reflections on the eternal search for meaning and guidance in a modern world.

Vipoo Srivilasa is a Thai-born artist whose practice draws concern from cultural shifts, the migrant experience, cultural identity and cross-cultural experiences. In the traditions of fine Asian porcelain and the decorative arts Srivilasa’s series of sculpted forms, which are made from readymade sculptures of Chinese women in traditional costume, are re-dressed from head to toe in porcelain flowered gowns meticulously crafted and hand painted in cobalt blue pigment, and bonded to the figures with Blu-Tack as “metaphor for the delicate connections that are at play when two cultures come together as one,” notes Eyre.

JamFactory is a unique not-for-profit South Australian organisation who support and promote the outstanding creativity of leading national and international craft and design makers working across a range of disciplines including ceramics, glass, furniture, jewellery, metal and other fields of artistic production, across two sites at Adelaide’s West End Creative Precinct and the Seppeltsfield estate in the Barossa Valley, both are home to artist studios, galleries and retail shops.

Find out more about JamFactory here including gallery opening times, locations, and to see what’s coming up on the exhibitions program in the near future.