mark vaarwerk talks about the work exhibited in "homework". filmed as part of the MGNSW touring show "excessory" more >

the exhibition homework as installed at keeper gallery in sydney's GAFFA gallery february 2010.

a big thank you to the wonderful zoe brand for these images and for being so committed to making this jewellery look its absolute best for the show.

also see the gallery section of this website and the "homework BILK" tour in this project section for more info on these items.

the focus was to present the wall mounted items in a constellation like layout, making the most of the larger wall, and to create the most impact on entry. getting this just right was much harder than it would seem, as it is not quite a random scattering of items, and on the other hand, not ordered either. a few items in too straight a line, or too symmetrical a shape, would seem out of place or distracting. at the same time it was also important to find the right mix of colour in each cluster. thanks again to zoe, for being so dedicated to getting this so right!

brooches. the body of the brooch is first cut from expanded polystyrene ("styrofoam"), collected as used food cool storage boxes. this is then transformed by exposing it to acetone. the result is a harder, denser form about half or one third the original size. There is also an element of chance, as while the material is shrinking there is some twisting warping and deformation of the original shape.

the coloured coating is sourced from various other plastic items, and applied as a liquid. Or in some cases ink from pens, pencils etc is combined with a clear plastic coating. Or applied directly (eg pencil) to the styrene before shrinking. a silver and stainless pin is attached to the back for wearability.

brooches and a bracelet. this bracelet is an example of an item coloured with pencil before shrinking.

my favourite shrunk box, some brooches and a pendant. i like it the most because of the gentle curved shape. this shape is an uncontrollable artifact of the slow shrinking process, and is different in every item, brooches included.

more boxes and a couple of brooches

the esky! an old style second hand (bought from cannon hill st vinnies) poly styrene six - pack esky was shrunk in its entirety. this object stands about 60mm high, not including the string. the original string was removed before shrinking of course. which gave me an excuse to make some by hand out of plastic shopping bags. i was relieved and happy when i was able to ensure that the two halves fitted together properly - because shrinking them is a slightly unpredictable manoeuvre and i was worried that i would end up with two pieces which didnt match... the other exciting thing about this piece is the blue flecks in the polystyrene of the lid - it was the only piece of expanded polystyrene that i have been able to collect so far that didnt come in just white. the only other places i have seen coloured expanded polystyrene is that used for bike helmets (black) and other eskies like these or bigger versions (some times a pastel blue all over instead of the white with blue speckles) and the packing/lining inside the box for my dad's old slide projector (white with blue speckles) ...

little cups. there were over 100 of them. these stand about 40 mm high. originally these used expanded polystyrene disposable coffee cups were collected from the lunch room at work, cleaned and then subjected to a shrinking process, using acetone as a solvent, to create the finished item. a few were cast into silver - a mould is made directly from a plastic original, ensuring the most detail possible in the cast item and that each one in silver is different, as the mould is used only once as it is destroyed while removing the finished object.

stud earrings. these were made by first creating the small clusters of balls (the beans out of bean bags) in plastic then casting that shape in silver and attaching the post.

a panorama of almost the whole space. 26 brooches. 17 studs. 8 pendants. 6 bracelets. 100 plus cups (6 in silver). 5 boxes. one esky.