Artist Talk: Julie Blyfield - Embrace

Embrace by Julie Blyfield is a body of work inspired by the artist’s recent visit to the Purnululu national park in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Presented as an intimate landscape, the jewellery and sculptured objects in this exhibition reflect the Bungle Bungle landscape, the land formations and the diverse flora of the region. Predominately made from silver and copper, the pieces reflect the colours and impressions of this remote wilderness.

In a way, Blyfield’s Embrace defies the ephemeral nature of these landscapes through the collecting, study and referencing of samples from each site. The organic textures, colours and formations are then transformed by the use of new more permanent materials. The works created speak to the uniqueness and wonder of these ecosystems.

Julie Blyfield is a represented artist of Stanley Street Gallery, her sculpture, jewellery and metalwork is held in Australian and International museum collections including the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra; the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, France; the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, United Kingdom.

Julie Blyfield never tires of looking at Australian nature. Often her looking is at botanical specimens in museums – fragile survivors from the past arranged in drawers – but she also relishes seeing new environments, seeking out fresh inspiration for making jewellery and objects.

Embrace is Blyfield’s response to visiting the Kimberley region in northeast Western Australia in May 2018, staying near the Bungle Bungles in the World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park, the home of the the Jaru and Gidja peoples, who are its Traditional Custodians. This new body of work comes from immersing herself in the country; driving, walking, taking hundreds of photographs, collecting plant samples, absorbing the rich colours and textures.

Blyfield is nationally and internationally known both for her jewellery and vessels, which always take the exquisite structures of the natural world as inspiration. Here, she brings the two forms of her practice together in a concerted tribute to the glory of that desert country in Western Australia. On one long plinth she is presenting a model landscape, the upturned copper vessels evoking the soft bulbous shapes and intense colours of the Bungle Bungles, the delicate painted flowers and foliage of the silver jewellery threading between them, fragile and ephemeral.

Tough pebbles, delicate blooms, stringy spinifex, seeds promising new life: Julie Blyfield evokes the extraordinary beauty of that remote northwestern desert, in tribute to its present beauty and enduring significance.

Words by Julie Ewington - Writer, curator and broadcaster based in Sydney. She is an authority on contemporary Australian art, especially art by women.