e.g.etal celebrates 20 years of jewellery
On an unassuming Thursday just before Christmas in 1998, a Melbourne icon was born. Jewellers Emma Goodsir and Ali Limb opened the doors to e.g.etal (a name derived from the Latin for example, and others, as well as the owners initials). From their first space in Little Collins Street, their mission was to create a place where “Australia’s leading and emerging jewellery designers would be represented in an accessible and exciting new context.”
At the time they showcased the work of 14 designers – mostly friends who had also graduated from RMIT. Emma Goodsir, who is now the gallery’s sole director, said, “It was an exciting time. Melbourne’s CBD was evolving and there was a growing vibrancy as emerging designers took up retail spaces.”
After securing a small business grant from the City of Melbourne, the business partners took the plunge with a tiny 20-metre-square retail space in Little Collins Street, behind Terence Conran’s newly refurbished Georges. “We were as surprised as anyone by the immediate success,” said Emma. “It was a steep learning curve as we truly did bumble our way through the beginning, developing systems and processes as we went. We would both go home at night to our studios and work into the night making jewellery to put in the display cases.”
Twenty years later, e.g.etal has stood the test of time, changing the landscape of contemporary jewellery in Australia. Now representing over 60 independent jewellers (the majority Australian), e.g.etal is widely regarded as Melbourne’s “hidden gem”, referencing its current subterranean location on Flinders Lane.
Providing jewellery artists with a way to make a living is still e.g.etal’s driving philosophy. Many of the early artists are still represented at the gallery, and have gone on to develop solid careers. One such artist, Katherine Bowman has made over 1,500 pieces for e.g.etal customers, including many bespoke commissions.
Another, Julie deVille, joined the gallery in 2005 and even spent a stint as a shop assistant, is now an internationally renowned artist with a substantial jewellery practice.
“I had my first solo exhibition at e.g.etal in 2005 after graduating from jewellery school,” said Julia. “I consider this to be the beginning of my career as a jeweller, taxidermist and artist and have since had over twenty solo exhibitions, all built upon this initial foundation. e.g.etal is a community of artisans supporting and learning from one another – a collective greater than the sum of its parts.”
This approach to nurturing new talent continues, with e.g.etal sponsoring annual gold and silversmithing graduate exhibitions. In 2010, an e.g.etal outpost was established at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, with a special collection launched this year to celebrate the Cartier exhibition. Outposts have also been held at The Heide Museum of Modern Art, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the Adelphi Hotel and the Westin Hotel
As a staunch advocate for jewellery artists, e.g.etal has helped establish Melbourne as the contemporary jewellery capital of Australia. The city is now considered one of the most vibrant jewellery communities in the world. “Melbourne people have such a wonderful appreciation for design,“ said Emma Goodsir. “We are very lucky to have amazing customers who will happily see jewellery as an art form and become collectors.”
e.g.etal began it’s 20th birthday celebrations in November 2018 with our most ambitious exhibition yet. Over 60 artists have each designed a very special piece – an item of jewellery inspired by the roman numeral for 20: XX. With a nod to the gallery’s reputation, Emma’s brief for the exhibition also called for the pieces to contain a “hidden gem”.
The Honorable Sally Capp, Lord Mayor of Melbourne paid e.g.etal a visit to see the exhibition and congratulate the gallery on its 20th birthday milestone. “e.g.etal has provided this incredible platform for hundreds of artists to be able to showcase their talents and their products … and propel their own careers and their own businesses,” said the Lord Mayor.
And because no birthday is complete without a big bash, e.g.etal this week hosted a birthday party for artists, government, media and collectors, who were out in full force to celebrate Melbourne’s contemporary jewellery community.