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F!NK alternative jug project: a new way to see an icon

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If you own a F!NK jug, you’ll know what a statement piece it becomes in the home.

And now, a new Craft ACT exhibition has been unveiled featuring 15 unique F!NK jugs decorated by some of Canberra’s most talented creatives.

The F!NK Collaborative Jug Project was launched in late March 2020 as a way to both celebrate the collaborative partnerships of F!NK’s talented founder, the late Robert Foster, and set Canberra’s creative community a challenge during COVID.

The challenge was simple—15 creatives were given two pressed aluminium F!NK jugs and free reign to “respond” to the piece in a manner informed by their own practice and design background.

In June, the 15 jugs were auctioned off to 15 lucky Canberrans—but you haven’t missed your chance to see them.

Last week, Craft ACT unveiled it’s newest exhibition—the F!NK alternative jug project—which features all 15 jugs, encompassing the works of 15 talented Canberrans: Alex Asch, Chick Butcher, Bengt Cannon, Scott Chaseling, Cobi Cockburn, Cesar Cueva, Matthew Curtis, Xanthe Gay, Marie Hagerty, Jess Higgins, Alison Jackson, Harriet Schwarzrock, Louise Scrivener, Tom Skeehan and Brian Tunks.

Photography: 5 Foot Photography.

Spurred by the popularity of the F!NK auction, the exhibition gives Canberrans a chance to marvel at the craftsmanship of these 15 artists, while also paying homage to the legacy of Robert Foster.

F!NK & Co’s Gretel Harrison, who was Robert’s partner in life and work, says that F!NK’s workshop is a historically collaborative space, which has hosted many emerging artists and makers.

This was how Gretel and the F!NK team chose the 15 artists to take part in the project—with every one of them having a “direct connection” to Robert and/or F!NK across the last 27 years.

“We had been talking about this idea for years, and when COVID came along we had an empty workshop so we thought ‘what can we do with our time?’,” says Gretel.

Robert Foster and Gretel Harrison.

“So we came up with the idea of approaching 15 people who had worked with Robbie in different aspects of his career.”

One such creative who took up the challenge is bisonhome founder Brian Tunks, whose colourful glazed pieces have been a staple of Canberra homes for over two decades. Brian says that for him, the project was as much sentimental as it was creative.

“Working together with Gretel (and her very talented team) on such an iconic piece was a timely reminder of the value of good, considered design,” he says. “The fact that I had known both Robbie and Gretel for over two decades also made it personal for me.”

“I think that Gretel did the community a great service. The past few months have been challenging for many of our friends in the world of art, music, and creatives of all walks of life. Having a concept to work on which was both collegial and engaging was a positive experience.”

Another artist who created a collaborative jug is silversmith Alison Jackson, whose eponymous studio crafts elegant minimalist jewellery. She says that the collaboration couldn’t have come at a better time.

“I was thrilled when Gretel asked me to be a part of the project,” she says. “It was in those initial weeks of COVID-19 when I think everyone was really just trying to keep their head above water so to speak.”

“With a bit of unknown few months ahead, it was really lovely to think and work on a creative project like this, something different to our everyday in the studio and certainly a positive engaging project in uncertain times.”

Tom Skeehan with his jug, Blush. Photo: 5 Foot Photography.

For Alison, her training as a silversmith laid the foundation for her design, which focuses on “the simplicity of repetition…letting the mark of the hammer really shine and not take away from the beautiful elegant form of the F!NK jug.”

“I love the marks made by my raising hammer, a sort of long oval-shaped mark,” explains Alison.

“Traditionally these marks are further refined with flatter hammer marks and then eventually sanded and polished away from the surface, but I just love how it shows the mark of the maker so I really wanted to make it a feature. I also thought it was a lovely reference to Robbie’s training as a silversmith too.”

For Gretel, the results speak for themselves.

“They are all stunning and beautiful and they really do have a true sense of how each [artist] works.”

Marie Hagerty with her jug, Hydria. Photo: 5 Foot Photography.

Feature image: Bengt Cannon with his jug, Riptide Sunset. Photo: 5 Foot Photography.


What: The F!NK Collaborative Jug Project auction
When: Showing until 17 October 2020
Where: Level 1, North Building, 180 London Circuit
More information: craftact.org.au/blogs/current-exhibitions/fink-collaborative-jug-project

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