Our unprecedented times. We have heard that phrase a lot recently, haven’t we? There is no doubt that our lives over the course of the last few years have been nothing short of extremely challenging. There are also ongoing problems to be faced in the areas of political unrest, climate change and inequality—the challenge is the impetus that drives us forward. It is then by no coincidence at all that during lockdowns and periods of isolation that designers, makers and artists have made some of their most compelling work yet, both acknowledging and transcending the inherent pain of recent years.
Increased engagement is also linked to audiences; indeed; the visibility of design practice in Australia has never been higher as collectors, consumers and clients seek to be more mindful of working and supporting local practice. This synergy of practice-based output, and audience-based support have both in turn allowed for an industry-based shift of increased rigor, collaborative spirit and pride in the present moment, and what comes next. The industry is on the precipice of a new paradigm shift, whereby our nation-state lets go of our paternal relationship to Europe, and instead acknowledges the strength of practices operating here, at a hyper-local level.
New Assemblage is a Melbourne-based organisation committed to promoting inclusivity and diversity within the Australian contemporary art, craft and design community. By providing opportunities for emerging and established practitioners through community-building exhibitions and programs. Showcase, presented at Oigåll Projects on occasion of NGV Design Week, further leverages New Assemblage’s commitment to these core organisational aims. The gathering of some twenty-three practices further demonstrates the strength, diversity and innovation within the Australian contemporary design community. On this, New Assemblage founder Ella Saddington says: It’s important that we nurture creative endeavours and fledgling practices. It’s time for us to showcase to ourselves and the world the incredible creative talent we have.
This 2022 exhibition Showcase by New Assemblage presents a combination of local favourites and undiscovered talent to audiences during Melbourne Design Week. Exhibition highlights include Melbourne-based jewellery designer Bobby Corica who presents a delicate hand held mirror. Here referencing genetics, memory and family; lensed by his Italo-Australian heritage. Bobby’s work oscillates between humorous and macabre, resulting in highly textured, unique one-off pieces. Another voice is Tess Pirre, an emerging designer based in Melbourne (Naarm), her practices span across furniture, objects and material development. Tess’ work is very tongue-in-cheek; and her previous work for New Assemblage was Stool Stool, an “intestine inspired” seating arrangement. Continuing from here is Andrew Hustwaite, an internationally exhibited ‘kenetic artist’. Last year he brought the infamous Negroni Fountain to New Assemblage. This year he’s been a bit more restrained presenting a daybed. Another focus point is designer Marlo Lyda, an Australian-born designer-maker, and recent graduate from the Design Academy Eindhoven (NL), she presents Cu-Copper, produced using e-waste and post-demolition waste. Borrowing from the technique of electroplating and assuming the role of novice alchemist, Marlo’s copper pieces are “grown”, molecule by molecule over a period of days.
On the note of Lyda’s alchemy, indeed, we are all natural-born alchemists and in line with this, we do need to physically see what our peers and community are playing, growing and experimenting with, in a very visual, textural and tactile way; and New Assemblage is delighted to provide a platform for this, emerging out of the world’s longest days in lockdown. Recent challenges have proven that one of the only things we can control is our actions in our own community, lifting others up, sharing privilege and coming together to celebrate living with greater awareness. This Showcase by New Assemblage is a testament to such energy, and provides a hopeful proposition for Design practices in Australia into the future.