Our December laurel goes to a jeweller based in Bruny Island, Tasmania, for a silver sculpture inspired by the gnat orchid, whose elegant form clings to the land.
Gnat orchid was part of a collaborative exhibition involving Sophie Carnell and Sarah Rayner titled Anthologia at Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert.
Sophie is a contemporary jeweller/maker working from her studio on Bruny Island, inspired by the landscape of Southern Tasmania. Having initially completed short courses in jewellery design after finishing her Fine Arts degree, Sophie has gone on to teach herself an array of skills in jewellery and small sculpture fabrication using a diverse range of media.
Sophie’s practice explores relationships to landscape, place and human interconnectedness with nature. Primarily working in Australian recycled silver, she is also interested in the materiality and perceived value of found natural and man-made objects. This diversity of precious and non-precious elements are often combined and hand-crafted into objects and wearable tokens that speak of the worth of our environment; of the effects that landscape can have on its inhabitants and conversely the effect that those occupants can have on their surroundings.
About my work
Florilegium – Whispered Conversations has grown out of a joyful and generous journey of a conversation with Sarah over many months. There has been an open exchange and sharing of works, words, stories and knowledge across the country. Our sculptures communicate to each other creating a story that captures a fragility and strength as they mimic the natural world. They invite close attention and share an intimacy with the viewer; their delicacy echoing the fragility of our environment.
The stand-alone work that I have created for Anthologia continues this exploration and close observation of the plant world around me, and their precarious position in nature.
I have fabricated the entire works from silver sheet and wire. The sculptures are a poetic representation of the specimens and aren’t intended to be an exact replica; they are my inspiration.
I find it a powerful learning experience to make by observation, to find ways of morphing material into new forms. The slow and intricate process of sawing, hammering, bending, soldering and sanding allows me to learn about the intricate details of the plant and consider its fragility and also wonder at its fortitude. In actuality, the orchids and sundews that I studied are small and/or incredibly delicate. For example “florescence” is based on the pygmy sundew, in nature, they are merely the size of your thumbnail, yet however small and fragile they may be these plants survive in some of the harshest conditions in Tasmania.”
Sophie has exhibited widely in Tasmania as well as on the mainland. She was a finalist in the Toowoomba Contemporary Wearables Award (2017), where her work was acquired by the Toowoomba Regional Gallery; the Waterhouse Art Prize (2018, 2014) and the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize (2015). Her work has also been acquired by Hobart’s iconic Hadley’s Orient Hotel. Sophie has been a member of FIND Contemporary Jewellery Collective in the Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart, for seven years. You can visit her at www.sophiecarnell.com/ and follow her at www.instagram.com/sophie.carnell/.
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