Spoons as Art Objects

Ladle for Dipping into the Well of Affection.


After the initial 'Spoon for Nursing the Lovelorn' (see text box, right), the series evolved into emotionally-charged ladles.This 'Ladle for Dipping into the Well of Affection', from circa late 1993, exhibits a narrow, restrictive bowl, evoking the tentativeness with which the waters of affection might first be tested. 

Ladle for Doling out Affection.


By 1994, the evolution sees a more flambouyant 'Ladle for Doling out Affection', with the bowl now a full but shallow hemisphere, from which affection might inadvertently overflow. Decorated with amethysts, set in such a way that they can be simultaneously viewed as attractions and spikes. 

Little Dipper for Catching Falling Stardust...


By 1996, the series has morphed towards serendipity, with 'Little Dipper for Catching Falling Stardust'. The titanium 'starwheel' in the handle is rivetted around a flange in such a way as to enable its rotation. The mood has engaged Whimsy and Chance, and the Turn of the Wheel.

This image appeared in Dr Norris Iaonnou's book: 'Masters of their Craft' (see in text box to the immediate right). About pieces such as the above, he said:"Mason inbues his work with passion; the richly worked, textured surfaces of silver, gold or titanium, often resplendent with amethysts, pearls,rubies, lapis lazuli, quartz or garnets. These works, typified by 'Little Dipper for Catching Falling Stardust', often suggest a baroque opulence, and although their strong design sense alludes to, but avoids, mere ostentation, their glittering complexity projects a personal, and singular, imagery."

About Phill's work in general, Dr Iaonnou says in the book: "The ceremonial and the ritualistic also figures strongly in Phill Mason's jewellery and metalwork. Highly experimental while retaining its links to mainstream, traditional practices, the challenge in Mason's work emerges from the creation of new, often fantastic forms. He employs time-honoured precious metals and gems, rather than the novelty imposed by the trend for new materials and processes." 

Spoons as Comforters

Spoons are not just transferers of food. 

Spoons also administer the dosage of medicine; or even the solace of the placebo: the sweet substitute for the real thing...

In this latter regard, the spoon is a vehicle for delivering emotional contentment. They are vessels for nursing, with handles for delivery.  


These spoons  were from a series Phill commenced in 1993.

'Spoon for Nursing the Lovelorn', the first in the series, was acquired by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, after Phill  was the recipient of the National Craft Award.

The influence on the design of these spoons was the passage of Halley's Comet, half a decade prior. Although the Comet's display was disappointing at the time, there was high public consciousness about comets per se, because several others also appeared during those years.


Two commemorative Phill Mason Comet Brooches from Halley's Comet Exhibition, Handmark Gallery, Hobart, 1986. Tektite, sterling silver, shakudo.

The motif of the comet - basically a head and a tail - was to abstract into many forms in Phill's work thereafter.


Dr Norris Iaounnou at the 1997 Hobart launch of his book, 'Masters of their Craft: Tradition and Innovation in the Australian Contemporary Decorative Arts', talks with noted craft curator, Robert Bell (center) and MHR Duncan Kerr (left).

The book overviewed the work and practice of 152 professionals in five craft media: Clay, Glass, Metal, Fibre and Wood [(i.e. approx. thirty practitioners per medium) See exerpts from the book about Phill's work, immediately left]. Published by Craftsman House, 1997.