I had a chance to check out Paul McClure’s solo exhibition currently at the Craft Ontario gallery in Toronto, curated by Robyn Wilcox.
Paul has this to say about the exhibition:
‘Slice’ is a collection of jewellery expressing my fascination with the microscopic realm of the human body. Abstract forms refer to bacteria, viruses, cells and their structures within us. As these invisible but universal components come to define us, they also acquire cultural meaning independent of their biological definition. The highly aestheticized microscopic imagery and cutaway diagrams from popular science are particular sources of inspiration for this work: geometric forms, graphic patterns and vibrant colours. The forms are “digitally handmade” using a combination of computer modelling and 3D printing technologies with traditional metalworking techniques of forming, fabricating and finishing. Slicing through these forms reveals surprising and pleasing sections and patterns. However, the slice, like a microbe itself, exposes tensions between the benevolent and sinister, the beautiful and ugly, the fascinating and fearful.
– Paul McClure
All the work is made using a mix of 3-D printing and hand fabrication skills. It is colourful and intricate, but also slightly unnerving.
As an independent goldsmith, I make a fair number of pieces that are small batch productions, so, while they are all unique in their own way, they’re still of a similar design, and generally use similar methods. Part of my practice, to keep exercising my creative muscles is to challenge myself to make larger pieces on a semi-regular basis. Last year, I made this piece:
Oxidised sterling silver, 10k yellow gold, blue topaz and sapphire necklace with roller printed elements and two-tone blue needled felt. This necklace is very kinetic, and hangs about 19″ long.
If you’re familiar with some of my work, you’ll see that it incorporates a lot of different elements from other pieces that I’ve made, but puts them together in a new and more elaborate way, incorporating some gold and more precious gems than I might normally use. (If you’re interested in more information about why I use these elements, you can read a bit more here.)
This year, I set myself a similar goal: to make a larger, statement piece, that incorporates a lot of elements that I normally use, in a larger format, and incorporating or extending my skills at the same time. This piece presented some challenges for me, in terms of the physical construction, because I couldn’t use a lot of my normal techniques to create the individual pieces. This made it a lot of fun (I like practical problem solving/troubleshooting), but also rather frustrating at times.
This necklace is part of my sci/art collections, and is entitled Invaders/Defenders. Since it is more specifically an art jewellery piece, the design is associated with different symbolism for me. The piece has two different finishes. The oxidised/dark element represents the infectious invaders, with the mostly oval cabochon sapphires being reminiscent of a bacterial shape, and the random placement showing some of the disorder that happens in the infection process. In contrast, the matte silver/light element represents the immune cells that defend against infection and disease, with the incorporation of texture and irregular cutouts. The more organic nature of the circular shape of the two larger elements reflect the cellular/tissue environment where these biological entities interact, and the two elements are united in a continuous loop with a steel cable, as the different sides of this process are irrevocably linked in biology.
I’m really pleased with the overall effect of the piece, what do you think? Would you be interested in some smaller pieces in a similar style of one of the elements, perhaps as a brooch or a pendant?
You can contact me here to start a dialogue about this piece, and commission a new work. I look forward to your comments.