09 November 2010

In it's last days - Tinsmith: An Ordinary Romance

This Saturday will be your last chance to view artisan's current exhibition Tinsmith: An Ordinary Romance (pictures of the exhibition above). This stunning exhibition by Brisbane designer, Barbara Heath, reveals the fascinating forgotten history of tinsmithing in Southeast Queensland and launches her collection of extraordinary new objects, inspired by the lost craft of the tinsmith.

Rediscovering the simple skills of tinsmithing, of bending, folding and tinning, Barbara Heath has made striking candlesticks. She has also created Hausgeisters and Hanging Crowns -  magical protective objects for the home or garden – as well as a Japanese-inspired rain chain,  a downpipe substitute that creates a water feature from roof run-off.
With their sophisticated rusticity, and redolent with history, these beautiful objects will enhance the interior or exterior of any home.

‘New tricks from old trades’ is how Barbara describes this new work. Best known for her superb precious jewellery, this is an exciting new direction for her.

This exhibition also gave Barbara an opportunity to research in-depth the history of the trade. “I had no idea tinsmithing had such a colorful local history,” says Heath. “Tin was once as common in our everyday lives as plastic is today. There were many tinsmiths in Brisbane and the R.C. Verney & Sons factory in Fortitude Valley even combined tinsmithing with jam making.”

Early tinsmiths used a few simple tools to produce utilitarian wares such as downspouts, kettles and bath tubs. Later they produced architectural detailing including window-hoods and delicate roof finials. Tinsmith : An Ordinary Romance exhibits a collection of old tinwares from private collectors, and even the tin patterns of Graeme Gillespie, one of Brisbane’s last working tinsmiths, alongside Barbara’s new objects. This reveals the link between her work and the techniques, shapes and forms of the early Queensland metalworkers. 

 “The very word ‘tinsmith’ evokes nostalgic, romantic connotations; nomadic fixers of things, outsiders, tricky, silver-tongued salesmen who charmed the farmers wives with their glinting wares” comments Barbara, and she cleverly captures this mystique in her work.

Tinsmith: An Ordinary Romance offers an opportunity to rediscover our past and see how it has inspired an artist to take a new direction.

Don't miss out on this fantastic exhibition - gallery artisan is open Tuesday - Friday from 10:30am - 5:30pm and Saturday 10am- 4pm. The exhibition will end on Saturday the 13th November. 

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