Illuminating aluminium

“There’s something about aluminium, there’s this allure. Even the name—to illuminate, it has that association with light and attraction,” says Eliza Tiernan, curator of Aluminium, an exhibition at Craft Victoria that asks six creatives—artists, makers, designers—to respond to the material. As part of Craft Victoria’s Conscious Craft initiative, the show is about promoting sustainable making practices in art and design. “We have an organisation-wide focus on conscious craft. Whether that be making processes, material provenance and mindfulness, or just being aware of where your materials come from and how you’re working with them.”

Indicative artwork by Andrew Carvolth for Aluminium, 11 May – 22 June 2024 at Craft Victoria. Photographer: Dean Toepfer, courtesy the artist.

All the aluminium in the show is recycled. “It’s a pretty contradictory material,” says Tiernan. “It’s so resource-heavy to get virgin aluminium, but on the flip side, it is incredibly sustainable when it’s recycled.” While the six creatives participating— who include Abdé Nouamani, Alexander Brown, Andrew Carvolth, Annie Paxton, Bel Williams and Welfe Bowyer—all have an affinity for the material, each has varied in their sourcing and application of aluminium. “The outcomes and responses so far have been very exciting, people have really taken a deep dive into research, even sourcing scrap aluminium locally.”

Alexander Brown has created a sculptural wall piece constructed from discarded aluminium cans, while Andrew Carvolth has recast furniture from ultrasonically tested submarine propellers. Bel Williams has sourced motorbike parts from scrap yards, which are finding a new life in a series of lights. “There are so many different approaches to the material and where they source it from,” says Tiernan. “I think their research and findings will have an influence on broader design and industrial processes, [and raise] awareness of the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the local craft and design scene.”

Craft Victoria
11 May—22 June

This article was originally published in the May/June 2024 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Sally Gearon