Borrowing heavily from Brown’s practice as a jeweller, Prop explores the space between structures and the objects they support.
Incorporating found objects, sculpture, textural painting and jewellery the installation blurs the lines between messy studio and visual merchandising. Following on from larger sculptural projects, Brown has introduced figurative elements and religious iconography into Prop, expanding on the tension between cultural motifs and textures.
INTERVIEW WITH SEB BROWN
A self-taught jeweller, Seb Brown currently undertakes a full time studio based practice in Brunswick. Seb has been running his eponymous jewellery label since 2010. Trained in Communication Design, Brown’s practice incorporates jewellery, ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, small sculpture and collage. An evolving collection of shapes and words referencing the often-unnoticed nuances of daily-life: a thumb print in silver, a chipped stone.
You describe Prop as ‘blur(ring) the line between visual merchandising and messy studio’. What is the thematic connection between these two?
SB: I am interested in elements used in visual merchandising and museum display which are designed and purpose built to hold and support objects, but also be invisible. I wanted to disrupt this precision with the haphazard juxtapositions found within studios. The feeling of entering a room which someone has just downed tools and left.
Being a self-taught jeweller, are there critical times where your skills and knowledge changed in the course of your practice? What skill-based resources have been paramount in the development of your practice?
SB: My whole time as a jeweller has been a learning curve in various stages of steepness. I'm able to spend all week in the studio making work, so I'm unwittingly honing my technical skills via repetition. YouTube is really handy for learning new skills and has taught me stone setting.
Being self-taught has given me freedom as I'm not constrained by conventions, and I hope the viewer is attracted to that rawness.
You work across mediums of found objects, jewellery, ceramics, drawing, painting, installation, sculpture, and photography – how do these mediums inform each other in the development of your ideas and creations?
SB: One main theme in my work is unexpected juxtapositions; this can be achieved using any medium. I think mixed media work is simply more interesting to the viewer, and I enjoy the warmth of found objects. The simplicity of ancient techniques makes me feel like I'm part of history.
My practice is an evolving experiment, each gesture and process influence the next.
What has been your biggest and most important lesson as a maker to date?
SB: There will always be someone who seems better, younger, more prolific, more successful, more talented, better looking, smarter, funnier and happier than you!
Can you explain some of the daily processes of your practice and give us some insight into ‘a day in the life of Seb Brown’?
SB: I usually arrive at the studio between 9am and 1pm. Ideally, I would spend around 5 hours at the bench. The realities of running a business are far less glamorous and involve lots of invoicing, buying materials, dropping off work, dealing with other craftspeople and manufacturers. I find time outside of the studio is just as important and I try to travel as much as I can. I'm actually writing this from New York.
The exhibition Prop includes icons of Judaeo-Christianity. Could you explain the connections between the iconography you have borrowed, and why?
SB: Religious iconography, particularly Catholic, is so beautiful and intricately crafted – it's unbelievable. I'm not religious at all and have a fairly antagonistic relationship with religions in general, but the subversion of meaning is so powerful, especially as a gay artist. The Catholic Church is basically the best branding exercise ever, and I wanted to use this instant recognition but turn it on its head.
Who would be your dream collaborating partner (the sky is the limit, historical figure,...etc.) and why?
SB: I would ask Wolfgang Tillmans (German artist) to take some of my work and make images with it.
Viewable 24/7 in the Craft Victoria Window Space
31 Flinders Lane Melbourne
Image: Prop II, 2016, sterling silver, recycled coral, paper, aluminium, akoya pearl, stone. Photography by Seb Brown