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  • Goldweights of the 19th Century Australian Colonists

Potter, Laura, 2012, Art or design object, Goldweights of the 19th Century Australian Colonists

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Abstract or Description:

Goldweights of the 19th Century Australian Colonists is a collection of miniature sculptural artefacts and a publication, developed by Potter for a touring exhibition of contemporary narrative jewellery ‘Transplantation’. The work comprises a series of 18 figurative brass castings, each with an accompanying text explaining its purported origin as a ‘goldweight’ used during the Australian gold rush of the mid 1800s. The work is in fact a crafted fiction based on an extensive and thorough research process, which utilised both published accounts and online historical resources. A book was designed and published by Potter in order to communicate the entire project effectively.

In response to the exhibition themes (migration, transportation and colonisation) Potter developed a set of counterfeit artefacts based on evidence from a diverse range of sources such as historical newspapers, books written by settlers, museum displays and online databases. The research process uncovered details of the gold mining settlements in New South Wales, and tales of Victorian colonial power and control. These ‘historical events’ were then interwoven with African tribal crafts and Aboriginal storytelling, and ultimately gave rise to a (fictitious) measuring system for gold. The aim of the work was to question perceptions of authenticity: the relationships between objects and stories, facts and fictions.

Here Potter invites the spectator to become witness to the process of transformation, through which raw material becomes commodity within the market forces that led to British colonialism. The work extends the value of jewellery, beyond neoliberal depoliticisation of 'gold', in order to bring a new historical meaning to her work with precious materials.

Potter’s counterfeit ‘goldweights’ embody a number of ongoing research interests, including objects as repositories of stories, notions of preciousness and value and the (pre)history of human engagement with precious metals. The work also marks a significant development within craft due to its speculative nature; speculation as a means of creative investigation has been established in design practice (Critical Design), but has not yet impacted upon the craft community. By synthesising her knowledge and expertise in both craft and design methods Potter is establishing new ground for her discipline.

The Transplantation exhibition, which involved 12 British or Australian artists, toured six UK galleries (2012-2013) before travelling on to six Australian venues (2013-2014), and was accompanied by an illustrated catalogue containing commissioned essays and artists’ texts.

Artist: http://www.laurapotter.co.uk/index.php?/2012/goldweights-of-the-c19th-australian-colonists/

Subjects: Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V100 History by period > V140 Modern History > V144 Modern History 1800-1899
Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V300 History by topic > V370 History of Design
Creative Arts and Design > W700 Crafts
Creative Arts and Design > W700 Crafts > W720 Metal Crafts
School or Centre: School of Architecture
Copyright Holders: Laura Potter
Date Deposited: 22 May 2012 19:23
Last Modified: 22 May 2012 19:27
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1011

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