The History of 'Masons: Studio Jewellers'

Masons was founded by Phill Mason in 1983. The Studio has been located in Salamanca Place, Hobart, Tasmania (the island-state of Australia) since 1985.

During the first two years of this time, Phill was one of the tenants of the Salamanca Arts Centre. The association with the Centre was to be long, with Phill being elected to the Board for ten years, serving for the last four of those as President.

Masons first Hobart studio, in the Salamanca Arts Centre, 1985

Meanwhile, late in 1986, the Studio relocated to the rear of the Galleria Building, at 33 Salamanca Place. The Galleria was one of a number of warehouses which were refurbished for, and tenanted by, artists and galleries attracted to 'Salamanca'.

In 1996, Phill's son, Tyrus, became his apprentice, and distinguished himself in his application, becoming a finalist in the Tasmanian Apprentice of the Year Awards at the end of his indentures.

Phill and Ty relocated within the Galleria in 2000, moving forward to gain street frontage.

Files of Interest

The Artists

       

Phill Mason and Tyrus Mason photographed as they opened the door to their new premises, for the first time, after relocating in 2000. Phill is the father; Tyrus the son. In between laughing and entertaining each other, they work very well together side by side; like two peas in a pod.

                                                                                                               

The Setting

     

Masons is located at the front of Hobart's Galleria building, facing the historic waterfront. The Galleria is one of a long line of restored Georgian sandstone multi-storey warehouses, erected in Salamanca Place, during the peak of whaling in Tasmania in the 1830's. Nowadays, Salamanca Place is renown for its market on Saturdays, and the waterfront is the scene for the finish of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

     

Salamanca Place under snow, July 1986

The Working

        

Phill and Ty work before the public, separated from them by a pane of glass. Nothing is hidden; even their award-winning pieces are made with an audience. Some viewers stand for long periods of time, watching a piece being produced. On a few memorable occasions, the piece produced was purchased by the viewer, after hours of following its fabrication...

The Way...

Masons Studio jewellery is hand-fabricated. Each piece is made directly with precious metal, using traditional goldsmithing techniques. Phill is a founding member of the Gold and Silversmiths Guild of Australia.

  

The pieces are of a geometric expressionist style. This means that the forms that the pieces take are suggestive. They may, for instance, be suggestive of  the symbols of power, despite their smallness of size; or of constructivist engineering which belies scale.

This combining of traditional goldsmithing techniques with such expressive symbology, allows for the production of pieces which may simultaneously feel old, and yet ultramodern. The public often comment that the work has the reassuring appeal of 'estate jewellery', but at the same time has a futuristic feel. In extreme cases, this may even produce pieces that suggest the archeological, but that are 'spacey'.

 

Game of Knucklebones for the Weightlessness of Space, Phill Mason, National Bicentennial Craft Survey, 1988

Most of the pieces are gem-set, using the rarer gemstones, often in scarce sizes. After sourcing and importing the rough, Phill facets the stones himself, increasingly cutting to his own computer-aided designs. This approach further ensures a totally integrated design. Please view 'The Work' (see button above) with this overview in mind.