A Diamond Is Forever (…But So Is A Digital Archive)

Australian jewelry designer Sim Luttin has evolved from using silver to using wood and paper, ephemeral materials that humbly assert "These Moments Existed".

  • two black-and-white photos

    Image 1 of 5

    Photo: Sim Luttin

    Sim Luttin's new jewelry collection emerged from the photos she posted on Instagram every day for a year.

  • two carved polished  and painted wooden brooches

    Image 2 of 5

    Photo: Andrew Barcham

    Sim Luttin uses scraps of Australian hardwood as the raw material for her new collection of brooches.

  • necklace made of colored wooden beads

    Image 3 of 5

    Photo: Andrew Barcham

    Sim Luttin's current jewelry collection is informed by a series of black and white photographs she posted daily on Instagram.

  • brown and white wooden brooch

    Image 4 of 5

    Photo: Andrew Barcham

    Sim's Luttin's new collection of wooden jewelry is made of scraps of Australian hardwood.

  • wooden brooches

    Image 5 of 5

    Photo: Andrew Barcham

    Sim Luttin hopes to convey the melancholy of the black and white photographs recording the year in the wooden brooches exhibited in These Moments Existed.

Event Information

These Moments Existed: Sim Luttin

An exhibition of a new collection of wooden and paper jewelry by Melbourne-based jewelry designer Sim Luttin, a 2008 MFA from IU's Hope School of Fine Arts.


Grunwald Gallery of Art, 1201 East 7th St., Bloomington, IN 47405

October 18-November 21, 2013, Tuesday-Saturday 12-4 pm; opening reception Friday, October 18, 6-8 pm

free

Grunwald Gallery of Art

These Moments Existed: Sim Luttin

Zoom: The Future of Craft

This weekend on the IU-Bloomington campus, the Zoom symposium promises to examine nothing less than The Future of Craft.

One of nine exhibitions being mounted in tandem with Zoom features the work of Australian jewelry designer Sim Luttin, a 2008 MFA from IU’s Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design department. Her show at IU’s Grunwald Gallery of Art– These Moments Existed–reveals how five years have increased her ambivalence about the materials she uses, and even the art object itself.

The credo that life is short but art sticks around seems particularly appropriate to the field of jewelry design, where precious objects are regularly called upon to stand in for fleeting moments and sentiments. In her current work, Sim Luttin is interrogating this standard operating principle.

While receiving traditional training as a silversmith at IU, Luttin began incorporating found objects into her pieces; but didn’t abandon silver as her primary medium until economically motivated to do so.

Beyond Silver

“Given that silver is so expensive now,” Luttin reflects, “I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and try something else.”

Using different materials, Luttin’s new series–showcased in the Grunwald show–mirrors her thesis show in its diaristic approach. She created a piece of jewelry each day for that project five years ago.

“It was about trying to find those moments in the every day that are worth noting,” she explains, “that could be reflected in jewelry.”

One Day At A Time

With fewer resources and fewer hours in the studio—she works full time now as a gallery manager and curator at Arts Project Australia—Luttin improvised on the piece-a-day approach, by posting a photo on Instagram each day, that would ultimately inform a new collection made of paper and wood.

“They’re not direct representations of the everyday thing,” Luttin says of the pieces displayed in These Moments Existed, “but they’re more reflective of the mood of the year. They’re almost the things that get left behind, the traces.”

Using scraps of Australian hardwood recycled by a furniture making friend as raw material, Luttin sought to reinforce the melancholic mood of the black and white photographs she had been posting daily.

Traces Of A Ravaged Landscape

The environmental associations of the wood amplified the theme of impermanence. “A lot of [the Australian landscape] has been burnt by brush fire,” Luttin adds, “and there are always debates about logging.” The very day of Luttin’s opening–October 18th–nearly 100 active wildfires were reported across New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state.

Luttin dyes and hand-colors the hardwood scraps, carves them into shapes that look like asymmetrically faceted gemstones, and glues them together in irregular groups. In a more direct application of the photographic source material, Luttin has punched discs out of some of her printed pictures to string delicate paper beads on cotton thread.

Precious Moments, Non-Precious Materials

The idea of making an impermanent object to record the impermanent human condition flies in the face of the time-honored artistic conceit ars longa vita brevis.  The credo that life is short but art sticks around seems particularly appropriate to the field of jewelry design, where precious objects are regularly called upon to stand in for fleeting moments and sentiments.

In her current work, Luttin is interrogating jewelry design’s standard operating principle.

“When I created the piece-a-day project five years ago it was very much about things lasting, knowing that in the future, because they’re made out of metal, they’ll still exist,” Luttin recalls.  “But I made a conscious decision this time to work in  wood and paper for it to have that ephemeral quality.”

Metaphysical Jewelry Box

One reason Luttin chose to use less durable materials acknowledges the the role another artist plays in her work.  “My photographer does beautiful documentation of the objects,” she concedes.

“We’re amassing, culturally, this digital archive of images about life–they might be monumental things, or they might, thanks to social media, be seemingly insignificant things.  But that digital archive almost becomes the permanent object; it’s almost superseded the object itself.  It’s almost freeing, because the idea can be more monumental than the object itself.”

Sim Luttin’s exhibition These Moments Existed  is on view at the Grunwald Gallery of Art October 18-November 21, along with two other metals shows—Shift, and Metal, Inkorporated. The exhibitions coincide with the symposium Zoom: Examining the Future of Craft, taking place October 17-19 in IU’s Hope School of Fine Arts.

Yaël Ksander

WFIU's Arts Desk Editor, Yaël seeks out and shepherds the stories of artists, musicians, writers, and other creative people. In addition, Yaël co-hosts A Moment of Science, writes essays for A Moment of Indiana History, produces Speak Your Mind (WFIU's guest editorial segment), hosts music and news hours throughout the week, and lends her voice to everything from accounting courses to nature documentaries. Yaël holds a MFA in painting from Indiana University, an MA in art history from Columbia University, and a BA from the University of Virginia, where she studied languages and literature.

View all posts by this author »

  • Daniel

    Great headline!

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media Arts & Music:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

Search Arts and Music

Stay Connected

RSS e-mail itunes Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media Arts & Music:

Recent Visual Arts Stories

Visual Arts Events RSS icon

More Events »Submit Your Event »

Arts & Music is on Twitter

Find Us on Facebook

Our Photos on Flickr