F!NK alternative jug project artist biographies and statements
Alex Asch was born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA and was involved in University art programs in Los Angeles and New York before moving to Australia and studying art at the Australian National University in 1988. Asch has exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions throughout Australia and overseas.Artist Statement
For as long as I have made art I have used collage to work through ideas both stylistically and politically. It has much in common with the art of sampling in electronic music; cut out moments that may specifically speak to historical events or collective social moods. I am drawn to discarded and discounted picture books, art history, the life of JFK, the Epic of man, the history of the world lies in piles at tips, junk shops and thrift stores. I am particularly drawn to old atlases, reflecting on the hubris of colonies to draw typographical lines across diverse cultural landscapes. The exploration of these collected books is slow and meandering accompanied by similarly old records turning slowly under the stylist. I have tried to empty my mind when placing disparate images together drawing on what Jung called the Unconscious drawing, later exploring the finished work for meaning. My workshop is a haven for disconnection.
When making the collage The Blue Danube for the F!NK jug project I was thinking of musical themes influencing the pictorial frame, in this case Strauss’s Blue Danube, a favourite of my mother -in-laws. There is a duality in the image, a turning away from oneself, a longing for the horizon.
Chick Butcher is Kiama based artist who works with glass and mixed media. His works are a direct result of intimate conversations he has with himself. In 2006 Chick graduated from the Australian National University School of Art with Honors majoring in glass. Since then he has exhibited nationally and internationally; his work has been acquired in collections including Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, Glasmuseet Ebeltoft (Denmark) and National Gallery of Australia; and has won several prestigious awards including the Tom Malone Prize in 2009.
A collaboration between the departed and we present is for me, a fascinating concept. One I’m honoured to pursue. Ironically, it’s not a huge digression from the themes of my work of the last decade…however this exchange has a potency I’ve not previously experienced. The bar has been set high, very high.
Considerations of time, place and culture are imperative, as was Robbie’s commitment to enrich each experience of his considered objects. My combining his iconic F!NK jug with iron oxide and a burnt recycled hardwood handle may be suggestive of deterioration, a reminder of our fragility, yet the clean lines and resolved proportions truly respect the legacy of this pioneer.
He, like all respected artists, makers and designers, honoured a responsibility to leave behind innovative and well-considered objects, as these form the map that guides those who follow. In this case we can be assured that, once again, Robbie Foster both supplied and surpassed. Budgie Juggler - The bare essentials of an Australian Icon.
Bengt Cannon is a seasoned metalsmith with a background in heavy metal fabrication. Recently, his interests have led to a passion for knife-making. His love of developing skills has led to experiments in forge welding and using different material combinations. Bengt joined Robert Foster at F!NK & Co in 2009, and a strong bond formed between them. Securing the role of production manager his fabrication skills were used in many ways, going onto collaborate with Rob to create products for the F!NK lighting range in 2013.
The tides of life can pull you in strange directions. If you fight these riptides, you will perish. If you flow with them and ride as far you can - you might discover something beautiful along the way and find a wave to catch back in against the sunset. This piece expresses an eclectic, organic, uncontrolled flow alongside a structured, deliberate design. Although I initially tried to control the direction of the outer pattern; it only started to really shine and take form once I loosened up. The handle was inspired by the treasure that might be discovered in the depths of the ocean’s turmoil if you pay attention while you ride the current through life.
Scott Chaseling is a cross-medium sculptor, who for two decades has centered his practice around notions of mobility, transition and liminality – that idea of non-place. He has exhibited his work nationally and internationally in galleries including, Pergamon Museum, Berlin; Eisch Gallery, Frauenau (Germany); Musee Atelier du Verre, Sars-Poteries (France); European Museum of Modern Glass, Coburg (Germany), and more recently, The Glass Furnace, Istanbul (Turkey, 2016) and Southern Illinois University Gallery, Carbondale (USA, 2016).Artist Statement
The F!NK Jug is one of Australia’s most iconic design objects. I felt I could not change a perfect silhouette, though what I am hoping to do is make it dance. Utilising faceted edges and planes from grinding into the surface of the aluminium I am attempting to make the form shimmer. Not unlike faceted glass the surface picks up light and throws it around the room. My Alternate Jug for the F!NK collaboration is centred around fluid brush marks.Similar to ink washes or glazed brush strokes on ceramics I aimed for freedom in the mark making.
Cobi Cockburn is a Kiama based glass artist who is a graduate of both Sydney College of the Arts and the School of Art & Design, at the Australian National University. Within her practice, Cobi explores ideas of space and illusionistic depth through compositions of soft colour. Her works form part of both National and international Public collections and she has been included in many of Australia most prestigious Glass Awards. Cobi most recent exhibition was ‘Murmuration’ at Sabbia in Nov 2019. and she is now working towards setting up the new glass studio / facility at Sydney University, Camperdown.
Sublime and fluid, memory can almost have a semi translucent energy. Inspired by previous projects, memories of an amazing maker, the strength and courage of his companion, and the appreciation of beautiful form. I create a work in awe and respect of true collaboration. 8 Lines - Visionary. Warming. Admirable. Respectful. Creative. Loving. Laughter. Memories!
Cesar Cueva is a multi-disciplinary Designer and Maker. He initially trained in Architectural Technology and Industrial Design, before graduating from the Australian National University, (ANU School of Arts & Social Sciences) with a major in Gold and Silversmithing. In 2005, he co-founded with his wife Nina Cueva, the pioneering Sydney studio and gallery, Metalab Creative that produced contemporary jewellery and object design for retail. Over the next decade, they curated some 80+ exhibitions where Metalab Creative was later rebranded Courtesy of the Artist. The couple continue to champion Australian art and design today, in their galleries situated in Sydney’s CBD.
For me, as a student and practitioner of object design, The F!NK Jug is a masterclass in virtuosity and the perfect embodiment of design through the act of making. Having undergone an internship at F!NK & Co as a student, I was blessed to spend time with Robbie and Gretel in their workshop where I experienced first hand, the enormous amount of effort that went into manufacturing each product bearing the F!NK hallmark. I was struck with awe and amazement, at how a beautifully crafted object required such punishing efforts by many, in order to bring it to life. It still amazes me to this day. The Parti jug is inspired by the vibrant and naturally occurring colour zoning of Blue, Green and Yellow hues typically found in Australian Parti Sapphires.
Matthew Curtis began his career through a studio traineeship at Denizen studio in Sydney in 1991. Working hands-on in the studio led to understanding many aspects of glass to explore form, line and light. Since then he has established his home studio with partner Harriet Schwarzrock in Queanbeyan NSW. He has exhibited internationally for over 25 years, participated in prestigious art fairs such as Chicago’s ‘Sculptural Objects and Functional Art’ Fair, at Palm 3 and ‘Collect’ at the V&A, as well as many successful solo exhibitions. His work is also widely collected, in Private collections such as Sir Elton John and Public collections Including the National Gallery of Australia and the Wagga Wagga, National Glass Collection.
This wonderful project, initiated by Gretel, celebrates not only the iconic F!NK jug, but the connections, vitality and richness of Robert Foster’s legacy. I have been contemplating a time I spent with Robbie; at ‘Collect’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. It was impossible not to gravitate toward him, generous and enthusiastic, he seemed as comfortable in that environment as in the studio. In approaching this project, I am revisiting a series of blown glass work from that time. Where I was pursuing the vessel form. I blew overlaid veneers of coloured glass, which were cold worked in order to achieve an opaque surface. I marked a grid upon the surface. At the intersecting points, drilled through the opaque surface with diamond drill bits, to reveal the transparent interior of the vessel.
Investigating and working with this iconic vessel and working with anodised aluminium reveals a different play of light upon the surface.Locating this grid onto a sacrificial form references the engineering and machining that lies behind the processes at F!NK. The polished and perforated wrap protects and celebrates this adaptable material. It feels like a good fit with the tight engineering aesthetic that you find at F!NK.
Xanthe Gay is a metalsmith based in Bungendore, NSW and has been making jewellery and small objects for over 30 years. Whilst initially self-taught, she later went on to study Jewellery and Object Design at Sydney College of the Arts as well as Gold and Silver Smithing at Canberra School of Art, ANU. Today she works from her Bungendore NSW workshop and gallery, ‘X Gallery’, that Robert Foster generously helped her design and fit out in 2004.
Having proudly represented F!NK Design through my gallery for 16 years, I find the prospect of taking my hammers and tools to this iconic object extremely daunting! For this collaboration I want to celebrate the fabulous functionality of the F!NK jug. It is famous for its smooth fluid pour, its ease of handling, the chill factor and the delightful way the moisture beads on the surface, inviting you to quench your thirst. To me the F!NK jug will always be synonymous with my memories of dear Robbie, good times, good food, good company, laughter and of course, great music and dancing.
Marie Hagerty is a Sydney born artist who shifted to Canberra about 30 years ago and has been working primarily as a painter. Her work combines layers of influences, from Russian Constructivism to the sources of mid-Century design. Surface effects and planes appear to shift, mutate and evolve. Marie’s work is held in public collections including: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Queensland Art Gallery, Artbank, ACT Legislative Assembly, Canberra Museum and Gallery, Bendigo Art Gallery, Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Australian National University; and private collections in Australia and the USA.
Inspiration for the collaborative jug project comes from the wonderful 1920’s porcelain tea services with designs by constructivist artists and in this case the ceramic work of Jun Kaneko which is held in the NGA collection.
Jess Higgins is an emerging artist based in the Canberra region, her practice primarily encompasses print media and drawing techniques. She graduated from the ANU School of Art and Design with Honours in 2015 and has consistently exhibited in regional and metropolitan Australia, most recently working with Ginger Gorman in an arts-documentary collaboration ‘On Thin Ice’ at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre.
Since working at F!NK & Co as Assembly Manager, I have been fortunate enough to learn a range of new skills working with aluminum and the anodizing process. I have chosen to create a series of organic marks on the surface of the jug using a dremel; paying homage to the natural world the F!NK jug is inspired by. ‘Navigate’ was created by drawing directly onto an anodized matt charcoal jug a series of organic contour lines using a Dremel. While making this jug I had in mind the desert landscape paying homage to the natural world the F!NK jug is inspired by. The jug was then re-anodized making the lines I had drawn a range of warm gold and orange.
Alison Jackson is a designer, maker and contemporary metalsmith living and working in Braidwood, Australia. Craftsmanship and the way pieces are made has always been an influence to Alison. From the way two surfaces join together, a junction, or the way an edge has been finished, it’s all in the details of an object. It is the perfection of being imperfect and the distinctive nature of structures and objects that inspires her. Alison’s work is held in both public and private collections, including an acquisition by the Canberra Museum and Gallery. A recipient of numerous notable awards and grants such as the Australia Council for the Arts and artsACT project grants, Alison’s work has been exhibited widely within Australia and also internationally.
Spring Rhythm takes inspiration from the repetitive hammering process used in traditional silversmithing. This elongated hammer mark, usually unseen in finished vessels, is instead celebrated and manipulated to create a flowing and dynamic pattern across the surface of the iconic F!NK Jug. As we look to a new season, Spring, in an unsettling year, perhaps there is the beginning of, or the aspiration of, a new rhythm as we adjust and re-adjust ourselves to what this year brings.
Harriet Schwarzrock is a glass artist based in Queanbyan, NSW. In 1999, Harriet graduated from the Sydney College of the Arts with Honours in Visual Arts, majoring in Glass. Prior to graduating, Schwarzrock travelled through North America visiting renowned workshops and studios. On her return to Australia, Schwarzrock began assisting at Denizen Studio, Sydney, working with many of Australia’s most dedicated artists working with glass. Developing her skill and technique whilst finding inspiration and influence for her own work.
This generous collaborative F!NK Jug Project, has provided me with a focused experience of making and designing, during these contracting and uncertain times, (thank you Gretel!). When we moved our home and studio to Queanbeyan in 2003, F!NK was a beacon in the cultural landscape. Robbie’s incredible approach to material and attention to detail has reverberated through both art and design. His encouragement and also his interest in organic and asymmetrical forms has resonated with me, & His 2011 exhibition ‘Strange Planet’, 10 recent lighting installations, (Gallery of Australian Design, ACT) is imprinted within me.
With my work I am continually drawn to expressions of flow and interconnectivity. I return to themes of circulation and the interplay between biology and its environment. Where circulation and biology become a conduit for interconnectivity. This vessel project expresses a meandering capillary branching line. My intention was to respond to the curvature of this iconic vessel, revealing a branching rivulet like structure, akin to veins or rivers. Branching and meandering these lines expose the material beneath the perfect satin skin.
Louise was the very first graphic design graduate from the University of Canberra and holds a Bachelor of Graphic Design. Her first full-time employment followed at the Communication Research Institute of Australia (CRIA), where as an Information Design Trainee, she undertook basic graphic design duties as well as training in the foundation of Information Design. These principles have stood her in good stead throughout her career and she continues to apply these principles and methodologies today. Today she works as a Senior Graphic Designer at one of Australia’s major cultural institutions after an established career in the private sector.
A long and very close association with F!NK + Co. since the late 1990s has seen the development of all of their marketing materials to date, including logo and branding development, corporate brochures, website, retail products, packaging and display materials.
She is honoured to be part of this project.
My design thinking stems from something Robert Foster said to me a long time ago, and about how he was intrigued by the juxtaposition of creating objects with fluid, organic lines and form from hardened, inorganic materials like aluminium and stainless steel. What I’m trying to do is expand on that notion by creating something beautiful and unexpected from the surface of the hard, metallic substrate. My intention is to add another visual dimension to the jug by incorporating its fluid organic lines – especially the profile of the jug lip — into a pattern that when sandblasted will reveal a faceted, almost bejeweled finish.
Tom Skeehan is an award-winning Canberra based industrial designer who specialises in commercial furniture and objects for the home. In 2012, Tom graduated from University of Canberra with a Bachelor of Industrial Design and towards the end of his studies Tom established SKEEHAN studio. A noted young designer Tom Skeehan exhibits at design fairs across Australia, New Your, Singapore and Milan.
This project celebrates material research and the process of anodising. Highlighting the fluid process of anodising and the legacy of experimentation created by Robert Foster. The unique process of anodising informed our approach to the collaborative jug project. Anodising a F!NK Jug is done by immersing the vessel into a coloured acid electrolyte bath and passing an electric current through the Jug. The BLUSH Jug celebrates this process - after experimenting at the F!NK workshop they developed a technique to control the speed and depth the jug enters the bath, resulting in a unique gradient. This unique tonal gradient allows the raw material to be seen, highlighting the forming processes used to shape the aluminum - gradually introducing the anodising finish.
Brian Tunks is the Creative Director and founder of Bisonhome which was established in 1997. Brian attended school in Scandinavia and subsequently trained in ancient history and archaeology at the Australian National University. Combined with a love of Asian ceramics this fusion of traditions resulted in the pared-back aesthetic with simple lines and pure colours that characterizes Bison design classics.
Bison, along with F!NK, have a shared history going back over 20 years. Trade shows together in Europe and representing Canberra at the Powerhouse Museum exhibition ‘Smart Works. Design and the Handmade (2007)’. While Brian creates his pieces collaboratively in studios around the world, he also has a commitment to sharing design together with other Australian craftspeople. He is currently undertaking a number of projects with friends which will be released later this year.
The concept for our ‘Popular George’ jug came from a conversation I had with Gretel earlier this year. We were discussing how I’d picked a motif to use on our bison stoneware collection for the Centenary of Canberra in 2013. We translated that theme... the poplars by Lake George... to a profile repeated on the surface of the F!NK jug and explored this further by carving in to the metal in a similar manner to our BRIAN TUNKS blown and cut glass. Poplars were initially chosen by Brian as a reflection on country life, how they greeted you down home-paddock roads on many farms, and how you knew you were nearly home when you saw them by Lake George.