Objects of whimsy and intrigue

PATRICK McDONALD From: The Advertiser June 11, 2009

TREASURED brand-name accessories and collectable kitsch are transformed into genuine works of art in two exhibitions at the Jam Factory.

Artist Julie Bartholomew takes sneakers, boots, caps and handbags, casts them in fine porcelain and stamps them with designer logos in her show Global Markings.

Fellow ceramicists Stephen Bird, Michael Doolan, Jenny Orchard and Mark Thompson have fun with sculptural figures in their adjacent exhibition, Figuration.

Bartholomew melds human toes into the surface of her Louis Vuitton boots, to create an unnerving experience “akin to seeing body parts in a museum”.

Her Nike Dynasty series goes a step further. She comments on the changing face of Chinese culture by placing traditional figures on the inside of mass-produced shoes, hats and bags. “It investigates ways in which we alter, enhance or disguise out bodies to express or lay claim to aspects of individuality, ethnicity, gender and culture in an increasingly commodity-driven global culture,” she says.

In Figuration, Bird’s re-assembled Toby Jugs have a carnival feel and animated sense of humour.

Doolan’s strange super-toys reflect the darker side of childhood stories, while Thompson combines found objects with gilded dolls’ heads.

Orchard’s figures are an “intuitive combination of village folklore, creative whimsy and the excesses of genetic engineering”.

What: Global Markings and Figuration

When: Until June 21

Where: Jam Factory

Cost: Entry free

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