Intimate architecture

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The human-made qualities of glass and metal have long fascinated contemporary jeweller Blanche Tilden. “My work explores tangible and symbolic aspects of material culture that reflect this time and place by abstracting and translating the visual language and materials of architecture, the built environment, and everyday objects into jewellery,” she explains. Her pieces interrogate the properties of a range of materials—from traditional metals such as gold and silver, to more unconventional industrial materials and objects including borosilicate glass and titanium, glass camera lens components, computer parts, and bicycle chains.

As objects worn close to the body, Tilden’s refined pieces become intimately connected to the wearer. These personal qualities are emphasised in a series of photographs of adorned collectors, featuring in her 25-year survey exhibition. “The portraits bring the jewellery to life,” Tilden says, “and reflect how each piece becomes part of the persona of the wearer once it leaves my jewellery bench and goes out into the world to be worn and enjoyed.”

Alongside these photographs are several significant bodies of work, as well as reinterpretations of older pieces that reveal new insights. “This survey provided the opportunity to remake a major piece, Long Conveyor, initially created for my first solo exhibition in 1997,” Tilden says. This re-made work draws parallels between the exhibition’s location and the themes of her practice. “The new five-metre-long version of this miniature conveyor belt was commissioned by Geelong Gallery, and speaks to the history of Geelong as a major industrial manufacturing centre,” she explains. “Now as factories close, the commissioning of this work reflects the value that is being placed on art, culture and design and Geelong’s 2017 designation as a UNESCO City of Design.”

Blanche Tilden—ripple effect: a 25 year survey
Geelong Gallery
8 May–1 August

This article was first published in the May/June issue of Art Guide.

Michaela Bear