Body parts, kitchen appliances, cars and buildings. There is not much in our modern lives that steel has not touched in some way, whether it be via the machinery used to make an object or the object itself. With the oldest surviving samples stretching back 4,000 years, steel has remained an essential material of construction, in virtually every way possible.
As the third installment in a series of JamFactory exhibitions focusing on materials (previous collections have been Wood and Glass), Davis has selected “a mix of artworks, industrial design objects, videos and architectural models” to highlight the extensive scope of this adaptable material.
Considering the difficulty of exhibiting large-scale developments in a gallery space, architectural design is mostly represented via images and video. Examples of work by CODA Studio, Collins Turner and the multi award-winning firm BVN, are interspersed amongst smaller, hand-crafted objects like Christian Hall’s Neckpiece in Black (2016). The spindly blackened forms of late jeweller Mari Funaki’s Object (2009) series contrast with the gritty texture of rusted iron in Lorraine Connelly-Northey’s Narrbong (fibre bags) and Koolimans (coolamon or bush bowl) and the reflective silver surfaces of Korban Flaubert’s expertly manipulated objects that seem weightless in their fluid design.
Buoyed by the rapid technological advances of the Industrial Revolution, steel holds a firm place within our environment. This exhibition looks not only at the finished product, it also considers planning processes, elements of craftsmanship crossing over all disciplines and the potential steel possesses when combined with the skill of designers and makers.