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May 20, 2011 to August 21, 2011

Robert Baines: A Treasury of Evidence

The Philadelphia Art Alliance presented the first solo exhibition of the work of Australian goldsmith and jewelry artist Robert Baines in the United States. This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of Helen Drutt: Philadelphia.

In addition to a comprehensive survey of his jewelry works as presented in the traveling exhibition, The Schatzkammer: A Treasury of Evidence, a highlight of the exhibition was the Philadelphia Centerpiece. Suggested by curator Helen Drutt English, Baines took the opportunity to build a group of three pieces incorporating wire construction, which he had developed in 1994. This was the commencement of A. Redevent with his first group of A Table, A Crown, and A Trumpet, which were his first substantial wire pieces. The "Centerpiece" series includes a Candlestand, a Vase and a Tray, all created out of powder-coated silver. Given that the inspiration for this piece was derived from the city in which it was exhibited, the Philadelphia Art Alliance was ideal for the debut of these objects to the public.

Robert Baines’ multi-disciplinary research concentrates on three main areas: archaeometallurgy, art goldsmithing and publishing text and commentary. To Baines, jewelry is much more than mere adornment. It is a cultural, archaeological and technical document. Materials and methods are but a means of reaching different worlds. His interest in the archaic has lead to his mastering, for the purposes of reproduction, of ancient fabrication techniques. His pieces are conceptually complex and often question current and historical events with a narrative of their own, conveying both a contemporary visual relevance and a restatement of history. Baines states: "Complex new jewelry objects in precious metal will extend my modernist view of questioning the relevance of an authentic material cultural history. My art making develops a strategy of making fictitious or bogus jewelry objects under the guise of ‘games a goldsmith can play’ which draws the viewer into a spectacle of wonder.

Baines is postgraduate coordinator of RMIT Gold and Silversmithing Department and Deputy Head of the School of Art. In 1979, he received a Winston Churchill Study Grant, which followed by a Senior Fulbright Study (1996) and two Senior Andrew Mellon Conservation Fellowships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (1999, 2002). In 2007, Robert Baines received a senior research scholarship in The Sherman Fairchild Center for Objects Conservation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Tags: jewelry, metals, mixed media