The Objets d'Art

Saturn; Pure and Simple.

An exhibition that Phill had at the noted Sydney Jewellers, Percy Marks, in 1993, finally saw Saturn as a resolved motif in his work.

The piece below, entitled 'Saturn Saucer for a Future Medici', was considered highly restrained and resolved:


There is virtually no superfluous decoration in the piece. Perhaps the clean lines were a result of the influence Phill felt from his visit to Antarctica, immediately prior to the preparation for the exhibition...

Certainly, a little later in the development of these Saturn objects, complexity inevitably crept back into play. It's as though the inner goldsmith can't resist testing skills on hingeworks and locking mechanisms, and on the demands made upon the finesse needed to gold-solder a tiny hinge knuckle onto a relatively large sterling silver body, crisply, without melting it into a mess...


Nevertheless, Antarctica persisted in its influence, sometimes in other ways, as shown in the use of rutilated quartz in the following piece, which Phill used becuse of its redolence to ice. The previous pieces used lapis lazuli to evoke Saturn riding on the night.


This piece, cold and clean, but with an inner glow, was entitled 'Saturn Safe for the Keeping of Affections'. The idea of a safe for protecting something as precious as affections, seemingly perched upon cracked ice, typified Phill's aesthetic.

This last piece was accepted into 'Art 95', and international survey exhibition in New York, where it still resides.

These pieces typically stand around 100mm tall.

Continued on the next page: Cubing the Sphere...

The poster, and the coverage in 'Vogue' magazine, for the Percy Marks Exhibition, 1993.

The reference to the Medici, in the titles of some of the table-pieces Phill made, alludes to his respect for many of the hardstone pieces, collected or commissioned by the Medici in Florence, during the Renaissance.

Wishing to learn more about their construction, Phill was made the recipient of an Australia Council Grant, in 1994, to travel to Florence and study them at the Museo d'agli Argenti. Phill was grateful for this opportunity, which has informed his work ever since.

Phill used rutilated quartz in many pieces after visiting Antarctica in 1993. Also called 'Venus hairstone', the needle-lines of rutile within the clear quartz lend it the overall impression of cold and fragile cracked ice.

Co-incidentally, 'rock crystal', which was originally believed to be ice turned into stone, was used extensively by the Renaissance artisans for producing large table-pieces. What we now think of as more precious stone, such as lapis lazuli, was also popularly employed.

To fabricate larger pieces, they would join lapidary sections together with collets or strapping, thus extending the given boundaries of the stone at hand. Phill would go on to add to the vocabulary of this technique in a contemporary manner.

The direction that such influences and interests gave, was bound to help steer Phill's work. These materials and techniques, combined with Phill's own artistic preoccupations, resulted in such pieces as 'Saturn Safe for the Keeping of Affections'.