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Journal - Exhibitions, Interviews

Everything is Dual Q&A with Phoebe Porter

QA - Phoebe Porter

For e.g.etal’s exhibition, ‘Everything is Dual’ artist Phoebe Porter has developed a collection of new Raw / Refined works. Skilfully balancing materials in their natural and hand refined forms, these pieces explore precious materials in their polarities. Phoebe’s work is both meticulously considered and masterfully executed, so we asked her to share with us a little more on her process.

What inspired you to explore polarity with contrasting materials?
I was interested in contrasting two separate polarities within this work; both between raw materials / refined materials and between organic forms / geometric forms. Conceptually, the pieces explore the relationship between nature (the material) and culture (my ideas, technique, and form). 

QA - Phoebe Porter - Copper

Raw / Refined Earrings – Copper

When developing new works what are some of your design considerations?
My design considerations vary greatly depending on the type of work I’m making. In this case I was trying to achieve a satisfying tension between the juxtaposed elements drawing attention to their individual beauty, enhanced by the contrasting form.

To realise my idea in the purest way, I’ve simplified the pieces and reduced the number of components in each iteration to as few as possible. My first attempts were refined by deleting jump rings where possible and using stainless steel wires rather than chains. I love the pure geometry of the stainless steel wires and the sculptural quality they bring to the work. I encourage viewers to try the necklaces on as they are surprisingly light and comfortable to wear, allowing the pendants to hang elegantly on the flat part of the chest.

I also enjoy the playful echo between the necklace wires and the smaller earring hoop wires. I’m always concerned to keep my earrings as light as possible and very securely closed – I believe this makes them extremely wearable.

QA - Phoebe Porter - Bench

Photo by Lauren Sutton @laurenlsutton

Each work incorporates either gold, iron or copper, what drew you to these materials?
Each piece juxtaposes a native element – that is a metal as it is found in its pure form in nature – with the same material in a refined and alloyed state. For instance, a native gold specimen, which is almost pure gold, is contrasted with a fabricated 18ct gold component, which is 75% gold, alloyed with silver, copper and zinc.

Gold, iron and copper are examples of metals that sometimes occur in their pure form in nature. Platinum and silver can also be found as native elements, so there is scope to add some pieces to the collection if I come across some beautiful examples of these!

The iron specimens have another aspect of significance as they are fragments of the Campo del Cielo meteorite, thought to have impacted the earth more than 4000 years ago. The age of this meteorite is estimated to be 4.5 billion years old, formed as part of the development of our solar system. They are unusually pure among iron deposits, being about 93% pure iron. The contrasting stainless steel components are about 70% iron, which is alloyed with chromium, nickel and molybdenum.

QA - Phoebe Porter - Iron

Raw / Refined Necklace – Iron

What were the challenges if any in creating these pieces?
In this case, the biggest challenge was choosing which ideas for the series to focus on and resolve. I had a number of other directions the work could have taken and it was agonising to choose which to finish as time constraints did not allow me to finish them all. Happily, this means I have some related pieces underway that I’m excited to present at e.g.etal in the future.

QA - Phoebe Porter - Earrings

Raw / Refined Earrings – Gold

What do you hope people enjoy or discover from seeing and wearing your work?
I hope my work can contribute to an awareness and appreciation of how things are made and illustrate the intrinsic value of handmade things in the material world. I hope it can increase the audiences respect for the finite materials I use and how precious they really are.

You can see more about Phoebe and her collection here.