Luck without magic in Sydney 22 August 2012

Speculations on luck in our sometimes cursed world…



Is luck still important in our lives, even when we no longer believe in superstitions? If so, is it possible to design for good fortune or to increase our confidence in the future?  Previously, the placebo was a method of detecting error in medical research, now scientists are taking the sugar pill seriously as a health measure.

Join us for the panel discussion to accompany the Joyaviva exhibition which will bring together diverse ideas about the influence of hope in human affairs. With Dr TOM MORTON (Associate Professor of Journalism, Director of Australian Centre for Independent Journalism), Dr LIZZIE MULLER (Senior Lecture, Interdisciplinary Design, UTS School of Design),  KEVIN MURRAY (curator, Joyaviva) and ALICE WHISH (jeweller, Joyaviva). Download the flyer for more information (pdf)




About Joyaviva: Live Jewellery from across the Pacific
Joyaviva presents diverse works by a new wave of jewellers from Australia, New Zealand and Chile – each piece is ‘alive’ as a device for sharing hopes and responding to our fears – ranging from threat of earthquakes to success in a school exam.

Created from a wide range of materials from 24ct gold to fabric, these objects link people together – transforming private wishes into shared stories. Presented alongside the documentation and ephemera of their use out in the world, Joyaviva is an opportunity to re-imagine the role of jewellery in our daily lives – traditional answers for modern questions. Visit to learn more about the project or view the exhibition guide online.
Until 31 August

Level 4, Peter Johnson Building, 702 Harris Street, Ultimo, NSW, Australia
Open Monday – Friday 12-6pm


IMAGES CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Jacqui Chan Brooch from Host a Brooch in action, Christchurch. Caz Guiney Charm-ID Card plastic ID card, leather lanyard, gold 24ct gold leaf. Matthew M Wilson Price of change, found coins. Carolina Hornauer in conversation for Re-knot / Reanudar.

Joyaviva: Live Jewellery from across the Pacific was shown at RMIT in Feb 2012. It will be touring to Objectspace Auckland (NZ), Santiago and Valparaiso (Chile), Jalsuri Foundation (Bolivia) and Mexico City (Mexico).

Joyaviva is a project associated with the Ethical Design Laboratory, a research area of RMIT Centre for Design. Supported by the Council on Australia Latin America Relations and Creative NZ

UTS Gallery supported by Oyster Bay Wines and Coopers. Media Partner: 2ser

This too shall pass–call for Sydney

read4This too shall pass evolved in response to the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

It aims to support red-zoned contemporary jewellery gallery THE NATIONAL by engaging the wider community in small acts of generosity.

Money is raised by the sale of THIS TOO SHALL PASS ribbons, which are:

· assembled by well-wishers who volunteer their time, then

· distributed by galleries that waive their commission fees, then

· gifted on by purchasers to anyone who could need a little extra help

The project will tour NZ and overseas through 2012 and 2013.

Ribbons are $10. Please select your card/s from the display and donate online:

· Go to

· Navigate via Aotearoa/New Zealand to Sarah Read

· Use the Donate button to make a credit card payment

Thank you x
Sarah Read July 2012


After the destruction of its High Street premises in February 2011, The NATIONAL continued to trade with barely a break, staging a series of popup shows and other initiatives (including Jacqui Chan’s Host a Brooch).

At the start of 2012 the gallery reopened at 212 Madras St, in the newly strengthened and restored NG building, which stands at the edge of the shattered CBD.


Left to right: July 2012: Approaching THE NATIONAL on Madras St, View of THE NATIONAL from the street,
View of Madras St from THE NATIONAL

Joyaviva workshop in La Paz, Bolivia

La Calle de las Brujas, La Paz, Bolivia

La Calle de las Brujas, La Paz, Bolivia

La Paz Bolivia has a very special significance for Joyaviva. It is the home of El Ekeko, the inspiration of Angela Cura Mendes El Ekeko Proyecto and represents an original take on luck in South America. This Andean god of abundance is the centrepiece of a festival known as the Alisitas, when people exchange miniature versions of consumer goods. The city has an entire mini-economy devoted to the fabrication of miniature tools, cars, money, food and even certificates. These all go on sale at noon, 24 January, where the city’s population gathers to purchase the object of their and others desires.

On other times of the year, you can supply your wishful thinking at the Calle de las Brujas (Street of the Witches). All along the street are shops selling amulets, votive offerings, charms, herbal medicines and the ubiquitous llama foetus. It’s an extraordinary display of invention and ritual that both attracts and repulses. The Joyaviva challenge is to find ways of drawing on this amazing heritage without reverting to primitivism.

Bolivia is a fascinating stage in the Joyaviva journey. Though it is the poorest country in Latin America, it is incredibly rich in popular culture. There is a great love of festivals, featuring stunning parades in the Fiesta de Gran Poder and Carnival. It is also the most strongly indigenous country in the continent, with a President who proudly follows his Aymara heritage. Politically, Bolivia aspires to world leadership in climate change, presenting the figure of Pachamama (mother earth) as a global ideal.

Estaban Avendaño, a jeweller to the Cholitas, the ultimate connoisseurs of style in La Paz.

Estaban Avendaño, a jeweller to the Cholitas, the ultimate connoisseurs of style in La Paz.

One of the distinctive features of La Paz is the indigenous woman, known as cholita, who dresses in a distinctive derby hat (bombin). Forced to adopt European clothes by their Spanish masters, the indigenous women decided to craft their own image from variety of disparate sources. In what might be considered Andean bling, the women wear multilayed skirts often embroidered with glistening metal thread. Jewellery is taken very seriously, particularly when attached to the hat. The women commission specific pieces that relate to their identity, featuring ornate animals or mythical figures.

Joyaviva itself is blessed with a wonderful partner in Bolivia. The Jalsuri Foundation works with artisans across the country hosting workshops and developing quality craft product that they sell in their shops. Under the leadership of Daniela Viscara, they gathered a fascinating combination of artists, jewellers, designers and artisans for the Joyaviva workshop. She gave an outline of the design process and her colleague the historian Silvia Azre presented a fascinating genealogy of El Ekeko. The dialogue between Western, Latin and indigenous cultures proved quite fertile. So what did they come up with?

Workshop participants in La Paz

Workshop participants in La Paz

That week in La Paz had been quite difficult. The bus drivers had blockaded the city, making it impossible for people to get to work or the shops. And then in the weekend, a large group protesting against the blockades themselves disrupted the city. It’s no surprise then that one of the situations they identified as needing luck was the task of getting to work each day. While this might be taken for granted in most other cities, in La Paz it might be considered a blessing to actually arrive at work in the morning. Other work related concerns included having for a job interview and sitting an exam. These were very different from the traditional contexts for amulets, which included fertility, good harvest and personal wealth. Might there be a new generation of Bolivian amulets relevant to the needs of a modern city?

The Alisatas Festival that holds particular promise. While over-consumption is recognised as producing great strain on the environment, a decline in consumer demand is seen as stalling the world economy. Alisatas is a celebration of desire and consumption, yet because the items are miniature, this has a positive effect on the local economy. In the Western version of Alisatas, known as Christmas, the ultimate gratitude for all the goods we unwrap is to say ‘But this is exactly what I wanted. How did you know?’ Perhaps the recognition of desire is more important than its satisfaction. If this is so, then the Alisatas is the perfect way of bringing people together.

The particular desire for Joyaviva is to have the exhibition in La Paz at the same time as Alasitas. This not only touches on the spirit of the project, it also provides a generative platform for the burgeoning jewellery network. After all, rendering the world in miniature is a special power of the jeweller.

Luck by Design talk on 15 March

Luck by design: Artists speak about their work in the Joyaviva exhibition

RMIT Gallery Thursday 15 March 12-1pm

A chance to listen to the curator and artists talk about the challenge of designing charms for a modern world.

For the exhibition Joyaviva, artists developed new charms to be worn for specific purposes. The exhibition features these charms alongside responses from their wearers.

Hear the artists reflect on how they designed the charms and the experience of sending them out into the world. Speakers will include Melissa Cameron, Jill Hermans, Jin ah Jo, Blanche Tilden and Kevin Murray.

Some recent related stories (here more at the stack):