Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Funaki guest posts on materiality 3: Concrete

And finally, here's my third offering in the guest post series for Funaki, last winter during the early days of the pandemic when the gallery was closed and we were looking for alternative ways to communicate and interact. I wrote about materials I use, know and love: enamel, steel and concrete. Here's concrete! 

I was fortunate to discover this interesting character almost by accident. Some years ago, a bag from Bunnings was my leap of faith (yup, a panic solution) while planning a sculptural installation with no equipment to fabricate metal in a large scale. Concrete offered an alternative to work without heat or special tools, and allowed free experimentation without financial concerns. Soon, there was no return. 

At first glance–feel–concrete is heavy and dense, cool to the touch. It carries associations of construction and the industrial; of urban structures and surfaces; of my immediate world and visual interests. It can be rough, or polished like smooth marble, and is a reliable protector of fragile materials, such as glass, embedded. - From an intimate distance, concrete also reveals its sensual and sensitive side. Toned with natural pigments, the shades resonate with things I keep returning to: The light at dusk and dawn; the changing skies, seasons and weather patterns … all somehow connected to our own human emotions in flux. This poetic nature of concrete keeps surprising and captivating me. 

Finally, I think it’s great concrete is used by thousands of DIY enthusiasts, for all sorts of objects and ornaments. This gives it a democratic, joyous quality. Anyone can use concrete, giving such obvious satisfaction to those who may not otherwise be creatively engaged. It’s the material of inspiration and possibility! 

Images (including the floor of Funaki on Crossley St): Inari Kiuru, 2015-2020 


Funaki guest posts on materiality 2: Steel

Last winter during the early pandemic days of 2020, the physical gallery space closed, Funaki's artists were invited to create guest posts in Instagram, about anything we liked. Here's my second entry on materials I use and love (please also see the previous blog post about enamel). 

Let’s talk about STEEL. I love steel. It’s a metal that’s been with me from the start, for practical and aesthetic reasons. 

First, I love the applications of steel in our urban environment: The intricate metal structures and tall cranes at construction sites; huge diggers like strange animals; ships and sea containers, the battered back doors of trucks. I love the ordinariness of this material and the divinely beautiful way it surrenders to its environments, accepting scratches, stains, rust … the marks of time, never losing its integrity. 

I can weld steel, making jewellery pieces and vessels structurally safe while subjected to high heat in the kiln for enamelling or colouring. Soldered seams will reflow and collapse in temperatures over 800 Celcius whereas welded connections (metal joined to itself with electricity) remain intact. Anyone who works with steel also knows it can be temperamental as it rusts (maddeningly!) easily and is harder to cut and clean than precious metals. Sometimes its sharp edges make you bleed. But all is forgiven for its amazing scale of expression: I love the deep blues of heated mild steel, the chemical, snowflake-like zinc patterns on galvanized surfaces and the elegant grays they turn into when heated (although this process is toxic.). 

I love the shine. precision and strength of stainless steel, as well as the warm rusted tones and quiet stories told by old, abandoned pieces. I love the way stained steel sometimes looks like silk, sometimes like a landscape–but always still like steel. 

Images: Inari Kiuru 2008-2020, Mild and galvanized steel 


Funaki guest posts on materiality 1: Enamel

Last winter during the early pandemic days, Funaki's artists were invited to guest post in Instagram, about anything we liked. I prepared three entries, each about a different material I use and love. Here are those posts, each as their own, starting with ENAMEL. 

I thank my location stars for learning this art, as I studied silversmithing here in Melbourne at RMIT University. They, uniquely, have a long history of enamelling with masters such as Helen Aitken-Kuhnen and Debbie Sheezel having taught there prior to my own brilliant teacher, Dr Kirsten Haydon. 

As patience and fine motor skills are needed in the traditional techniques, my beginnings were naturally full of tears–and this was just the teacher ;) However, a 2010 workshop with Prof. Elizabeth Turrell introducing liquid enamel (also referred to as industrial enamel, see below) was a turning point. The application of a fluid mix and drawing onto it allowed a freedom I’d craved, and eventually gave me enough confidence to keep working with the ultimately very satisfying powdered enamel. 

The traditional vitreous (Latin ‘vitreum’ means glass) enamelling dates back to the 13th century BC. Coloured glass powders are carefully applied onto a base, usually metal, and fused by heat into a strong luminous surface. From the 19th century, enamel began to be used industrially: A liquid glass mix is fired in huge kilns to form a durable coating for everyday domestic wares such as our familiar bathtubs and fridge doors. It’s worth noting too that enamel paint (“cold enamel”) and liquid enamel are two very different things. 

The images (IK 2010-19) show you samples of enamel on steel and copper: Shifted (earrings, pendant); liquid (samples, brooch, vessels), and decals (images in enamel). 

For beautiful pieces in different styles, please also see the work of the artists mentioned in this post. 


Monday, April 17, 2017

'Hold' vessel exhibition at Gallery Funaki

April 18 - May 27, 2017

Curated by Natasha Sutila, Gallery Funaki presents a survey of contemporary vessels by Australian and international makers David Clarke, Sally Marsland, Robin Bold, Christina Schou Christensen, Marian Hosking, Barbara Schrobenhauser, Lindy McSwan, David Bielander, Vito Bila, Inari Kiuru and Peter Bauhuis. 

As a prevailing form in craft tradition and daily life, the vessel affirms itself as unparalleled in the consideration of function, materiality and domestic ritual. A finely tuned relationship with material and process forms a common thread amongst this diverse group of artists (www.galleryfunaki.com.au).

So happy and proud to be a participating artist. My vessel contemplates the rapid mutation observed in butterflies, sensitive indicator species, in the Fukushima area in the wake of the nuclear accident in 2011. It is presented with water in it, interacting with thin blades of steel. The form and function of the vessel are also a respectful nod to the old Japanese tradition of mizusashi, fresh water jars.

Inari Kiuru
'Heavy water (Fukushima butterflies)'
concrete, iron oxide, mild steel, pigments, iron filings, wax 
120 x 120 x 140mm

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Heavenly Vessels exhibition at AVID Gallery, New Zealand

Inari Kiuru
mild steel, found object, enamel, pigment, wax, human ashes

Blink is a contemplation of the passing of time and the cyclical nature of all life.

AVID Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand / 08 - 22 April 2017
Raewyn Atkinson, Barry Clarke, Inari Kiuru, Elizabeth McClure, Lindy McSwan, Mark Mitchell, Masahiro Sasaki and Layla Walter

Heavenly Vessels is a collection of vessel objects worked in glass, metals and ceramics. Eight artists from NZ, Australia and Japan have explored a range of ideas in their work for this exhibition: the passing of time, feelings relating to connection with place and the beauty and materiality associated with the medium they are using. www.avidgallery.co.nz

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Night falls over Brunswick, concrete brooches

These three brooches from the Night falls over Brunswick-series were my entry to this year's Mari Funaki Award for Contemporary Jewellery at Gallery Funaki, Melbourne, Australia. From the top:

Suburban moon, close and distant (2016), concrete, mica, pigment, stainless steel pin
A tree and the night's edge (2016), concrete, glass fragments, pigment, paint, stainless steel pin
The Universe sees us asleep (2016), concrete, copper, enamel, glass, paint, stainless steel pin

'Vessel' exhibition at Bilk Gallery, Canberra

Holding onto light
concrete, glass fragments, iron oxide, pigment, wax

One of my three symbolic vessel-objects at Bilk, contemplating light. You can find more images
and information about the beautiful exhibition with six participating artists
at the gallery website here.

Blue and orange earrings

Three pairs from the Industrial Lightscapes-series 2015-16, all in steel, paint and gold.