Nope, don’t be confused – the above is not a Moje!!! It’s a detail of one of Stephen Skillitzi’s pieces showing in the foyer of the Jam Factory’s gallery space. Which on the face of it is a very odd entré into the Klaus Moje: Living Treasures, Masters of Australian Craft exhibition…but then again perhaps not.
At first the Gang was a little dumbstruck at the seemingly discordant curatorial ‘coupling’…but on reflection we realised that it was actually strangely fitting. Stephen Skillitzi was one of a staunch, scattered group of pioneering artists practicing studio glass in Australia during the decade prior to Moje’s arrival from Germany in 1982. And Moje’s first opportunity to formally meet and greet the Australian glass fraternity en masse, and eyeball their work, happened to be at the Adelaide Ausglass Conference in early 1983. He himself showed two of his New Horison series pieces there – the first work he’d made and exhibited with Bullseye glass – and the work stood in the same stark contrast with Australian studio glass at the time as it does with the Skillitzi pieces today. So it’s kind of a strange groundhog-day time-warp, throwing up precisely the same issues and considerations apropos technique, skill and aesthetics that have dogged the studio glass movement since its inception.
The Gang thought long and hard about describing Stephen’s work – as in whether we ought to even go there. Because we’re not in the business of playing the style police, per se, and one man’s trash is another man’s treasure after all. We did a quick flick around Google and came across a gem of a take on Skillitzi in the T’arts Collective – ‘The results range from the hallucinagenic to the indigestible…’ A fair cop we reckoned.
His work is a kind of a melange of many things including Slim Barrie (as in the glued fairy stone technique, but without the sweet naivety), the de la Torre Brothers (as in the touch of decultivated madness, but without the intellectual underpinning) and Nudibranch (as in the kitsch souvenir shop/garden centre utter fugliness.) It’s a practice that is firmly planted in the fay-1970s, something Skillitzi himself is clearly into (literally, if the wizard’s cloak is anything to go by – the Gang was in its prime in the ’70s, so we recognise the symptoms…) Anyhoo, we’ve included snaps of his show in the day’s mugshot parade, so give them the once over and make of them what you will…he is obviously an artist who likes to deliberately poke a stick at, and provoke, the aesthetic hounds (and for that alone we have to confess that we naturally admire him.)
Meanwhile most of the day itself was swallowed up trying to put a decent post together by remote control – which didn’t work terribly well, as it happens. So if anybody did catch the muddled and hopelessly scrambled visuals on that last post we do apologise, and entreat you to revisit it again. We’ve set it right at last (hadn’t realised how bad it was until we got back home to Canberra. Mea Culpa.)
Anyhoo the Gang made it back into town with just enough time join the Mob (Debster, Netty, Tom, Tim, Louie, et al) at the pub for a couple of relaxing ales before everyone headed back into the Jam for the opening. And it was a very pleasant evening all round – those Jam Factory folk are such gracious hosts, they even presented flowers. Charmingly gallant, we thought. Post exhibition we all trundled off to dinner at the Jerusalem cafe (where we forgot to take snaps ‘cos we were too busy talking-eating-drinking-and-generally-enjoying-ourselves.) Nonetheless, we did keep a firm eye on the clock because we had a serious assignation elsewhere…
…at the Semaphore Worker’s Club, where we finally caught up with the lovely Joe. And what a treat it was. We’d been looking forward to it all day, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s in a big old house (bought by the comrades decades ago) overlooking the beach and it operates on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons for members and friends only. Not a sycophantic tosser or wanker in sight. Absolute Heaven. To quote Shane Jacobson, it felt as good as a pig in a pig! A live band, a crowd of super friendly natives, and so laid back and roomy – and they finish each session with a standing rendition of L’Internationale. Too bloody good. We loved it.
Check it all out here.
We’ll post Adelaide: Act Three in a couple of days, once we’ve eeked enough time to process the last images…