An exhibition of hand-crafted metal objects, Placeholders explores what happens when the intrinsic value of an objects material is seen to be more valuable than the centuries of tradition involved in its creation.
Throughout history metalwork has been melted down to create new objects or be hoarded in bank vaults, disregarding the original craftsperson’s hand, most only seeing value in the material itself. Yet as fewer artisans carry on these skills and traditions, we are in danger of losing the craft completely.
This new body of work by silversmith Gretal Ferguson questions the future of these traditions. Made to resemble the metal in its molten pre-worked state, each piece is displayed using common gallery hanging methods, a placeholder for what once was. The laboriously formed objects are left blank and without function, suggesting the growing absence of skills required to rework it.
After completing a music degree and travelling the world, Gretal gave in to her ever-present passion for making and enrolled in Jewellery and Object Design at Design Centre, Enmore in Sydney. Not wanting to commit to a 2 year course she only payed for the first 6 months. 4 years later she emerged with an Advanced Diploma, 1 year residency and multiple graduate awards. Not yet sick of study Gretal decided to further her education by completing her Masters of Jewellery, Silversmithing, and Related Products at Birmingham City University’s School of Jewellery in the UK. Upon her return to Australia Gretal was accepted into the Associate Program at JamFactory in Adelaide, working out of the Jewellery and Metal Studio where she has had the time and space to develop work for several local and international exhibitions.
Gretal’s most recent achievements are: recipient of the Helge Larsen Award, JMGA Profile ‘22; finalist in Contemporary Wearables Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery and finalist in the International Silver Triennial 2022, Germany.