This time last week I braved the bitter cold to check out Pin – Wonderwall at ANCA. I was not alone. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen that little place so crammed and going off. It might have had something to do with there being 70 artists in the show, all of them from Canberra and the region, or it could just be that it was the realisation of a bloody good idea.

The premise was that each artist would make a brooch – a miniature wearable artwork – even if this wasn’t their standard practice. This meant that wild abstract painter = brooch. Wood furniture maker = brooch. Photographer = brooch. Glass artist = brooch. Are you with me? If you think this sounds all too daggy 70s craft co-op then you’re wrong. As Chloe Bussenschutt, one of the show’s organisers, put it: “brooches are the smallest form of public art.”

There are so many good aspects to this project. The main one is that pushing artists outside of their comfort zone – be it with materials, scale, or both – always makes for fascinating ends. For many artists it can be the little push they need to find their entire practice completely rejuvenated, and it can see them sent off on an entirely new tangent. Another thing I love about this is that it makes for affordable artwork. That’s not to say I feel art should always be affordable, but it’s great to give someone a taste for collecting, and to give more emerging artists a few runs on the board. Needless to say, it’s also a fun idea. But fun aside, there is a lot to be said for an exhibition that has the ability to rally the local art scene and trigger such a party.

Standouts for me were Lucy Quinn’s exquisite glass and bone clusters, Nicci Haynes delicate paper and wire assemblages and the pixel punch of Dan Edward’s geometric felt brooches (but I would say that, I already own three.)

Pin – Wonderwall is on show at ANCA, Dickson until June 19th



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