By Evana Ho
The first exhibition showing at the ANU School of Art & Design gallery since COVID closed the ANU campus is quietly dazzling.
JamFactory ICON, Angela Valamanesh: About being here is a nationally touring exhibition that has kicked off its Australia-wide journey at the School. It was opened by School Head Dr Beck Davis, with Senior Lecturer in Ceramics Mr Rod Bamford.
The ICON series celebrates the achievements of South Australia’s most influential artists working in craft-based media, and ceramics artist Angela Valamanesh fits well within that cannon. About being here explores the interconnectedness of life on earth – between human, animal, and plant beings. The forms, vessels, and paintings conjure micro- and macro- biology, historical anatomical and botanical illustrations, natural history collections, and rare books. Angela’s works are populated with the animal, vegetable, and mineral with glimpses of microbes, bacteria, pathogens, and spores.
The not-for-profit arts organisation JamFactory is itself a beacon of arts excellence, one that builds up promising talent. ANU Art & Design alumnus David Liu (B. Design ’20) is currently based with JamFactory as part of their Associate Program, which “provides outstanding career development opportunities for emerging artists and designers working in the fields of glass, furniture, ceramics or jewellery/metal.”
During his studies, David was mostly attached to the Furniture workshop, where his interest in furniture design was “extensively developed”.
“I chose ANU because of the flexibility offered in the Bachelor of Design program where I could select courses from a wide range of art disciplines,” David says. “I selected courses offered by the furniture workshop in my second semester of the program and met some amazing teachers, mentors, and students there.”
In his art practice, David works with timber. He uses timber offcuts and firewood for some of his designs to highlight the scarcity of the material. Among the items he has made so far at JamFactory is a chopping board, which he showcased on his Instagram; demonstrating the capacity to make beautiful, useful objects from pieces of wood we tend to overlook.
“I combine modern designs and traditional crafts in my furniture and objects design and making,” David says. “I hope to achieve a good balance between functionality and the aesthetics in my furniture.”
David commenced in JamFactory’s Associate Program in February this year. He says he has met talented artists and designers with diverse skills and career paths, who have inspired him to explore different territory and career options within his field.
Through the Associate Program, David is hoping to “improve my woodworking skills and quality of the work to a higher industrial level and also develop new designs expanding my knowledge into unfamiliar techniques and skills in my program”.
The ultimate goal, he adds, “is to prepare myself for my own brand, expose myself to the market and establish my own workshop in the long run.”
“It will be a great year for my career and development after [graduating] from ANU.”
JamFactory ICON, Angela Valamanesh: About being here is showing at the ANU School of Art & Design gallery until 12 March. Follow David on Instagram @davidliu_design, and check out his graduation portfolio.