Connections and The Captain’s Daughter —

Canberra Times, 4 October 2017

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This is a collection of jewellery by Melbourne artist Bin Dixon-Ward. The works are from two series, Connections and The Captain's Daughter. Dixon-Ward has shown her work at Bilk before but this is her first solo show at the gallery. The artist is a graduate of RMIT in Melbourne where she teaches digital technologies. Her work has been shown widely in Australia, Europe, North America and Japan. Among other awards she was a recent finalist in the Victorian Craft Award, Craft Victoria.

The series The Captain's Daughter was shown at the Seaward Museum in Williamstown, Victoria in 2016. The work has its origin in the memories and experiences of the artist who travelled in the school holidays with her father who was a sea captain aboard large ships. The Connections series is urban inspired and is based on the artist's continuing interest in cities like New York, Tokyo and Shanghai as examples of the urban footprint of our architectural and social structures that continue to define contemporary life.

Bin Dixon-Ward uses contemporary technologies of CAD (computer aided design) and 3D printing to create her structural geometric pieces of interlocking polymer plastic components. Dixon-Ward sees technology as another tool to be used by contemporary artists to extend the possibilities of their art practice. Made from a plastic powder, the component parts have a slight gritty matte surface that is very attractive. The artist colours each piece by hand so that the colours are can be intense such as in the pink Rounded Square Necklace or of tonal subtlety such as the Enframing Neckpieces. In these pieces the single colours are delicately graded in tone bringing passages of light across the undulating surface of the work.

The Square necklaces are made up of many little open interlocking squares bunched together in interlocking clusters. The Enframing necklaces (like picture frames enclosing the head and neck) are more formal and are constructed of flat interlocking shapes rather in the manner of chain mail. In contrast to this visual complexity, the Louvre necklace is more formally structured with its interlocking slats that make up a strong structural circular design. However, all these necklaces and neck pieces are very tactile – they exude a playful invitation to be held and worn as they are flexible light and conform to the landscape of the contour of the body.

The earrings that complement each of these necklaces and neckpieces are constructed in the same manner. The Square earrings comprised of three or more square shapes that fasten at the ear with beautifully made silver fittings are very attractive but it is the red and black Louvre earrings that stand out for me. In different sizes, their vertical fluted sides with a slight curvature look a little like Chinese lanterns especially when they are coloured in deep cinnamon bark red.

In The Captain's Daughter series the curved Longitude earrings with their mesh-like structure and the buoy pendants with their colourful rings of colour are among the most attractive items. Other objects – the ship brooches, the necklace with ship display, the container stacks and crates with their personal associations – are more like small playful sculptures.

Bin Dixon-Ward was a participant in the recent Radiant Pavilion Festival in Melbourne – a biennial festival of contemporary jewellery and objects that took place in various venues in the city. (Bilk Gallery was also involved in this public festival.) Creative Woman was a collaboration between Dixon-Ward and artist photographer Giulia Gianinni-McGauran. The photographer took exuberant large scale photos of women wearing Dixon-Ward's jewellery. They are a colourful record of how contemporary jewellery can worn with panache and style to enhance everyday life.

Cousins K-A, 2017,’ Connections and The Captain’s Daughter’, Canberra Times, 4 October 2017.