Japan 1950 – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 2010
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, aluminium and paint
In August 2009 the National Gallery of Australia commissioned Melbourne-based artist Mari Funaki to create a sculpture to celebrate the opening of the Gallery’s Australian Indigenous art galleries and new south entrance. Twilight was unveiled by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, at the opening ceremony on 30 September 2010.
Mari Funaki worked with fabricator, Robert Hook, to create the final sculpture. Sadly during the commissioning period for the work, after a long battle with cancer, she died on 13 May 2010. However the artist saw the finished work and gave her approval.
Mari Funaki was one of Australia's leading jewellers, based in Melbourne. Funaki was born in Matsue, Japan and arrived in Australia in 1979. After completing studies in painting and gold & silversmithing at RMIT University, she founded Gallery Funaki in 1995 exhibiting a diverse and innovative range of contemporary jewellery by renowned international and local designers. Funaki worked as Director of Gallery Funaki whilst maintaining an active career as a contemporary jeweller and maker of sculptural mild steel vessels. She was commissioned to design a medal for the Australia Council’s Emeritus Award. Her work is held in numerous public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, the Powerhouse Museum, the National Gallery of Victoria, and Die Neue Sammlung in Munich, Germany. Funaki was highly respected for her role as a designer, gallery director and mentor to Australian contemporary jewellers and she was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in 2009 and a survey exhibition on display at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2010.
There is a strong personal visual language in Mari Funaki’s work. Rings, containers and bracelets, the forms at the core of her practice display an intensity of focus as she honed them into objects of extreme power and beauty, moving them beyond adornment and imbuing them with a sculptural dimension. As in her sculpture, Twilight, her intuitive response to materials allowed her to play with shape, weight and scale, to evoke diverse emotive responses. As the artist states:
I like to make my forms stir people’s emotions or imagination. As an object maker I have always been interested in the interplay and dialogue between negative and positive, between volume and space, between inside and outside.
For this project I wanted to create the relationship and dialogue between outside skin, cylindrical shape, and inside of skin, the hollowness.I was inspired by some of the burial poles by Tiwi Group. The whole pole is broken up by cutting some parts thin and some of them have two to three holes on the top of the poles. I used these elements in my work but not a direct interpretation of them. I used the outside of skin like the bark of tree as if it is holding something within, something mysterious.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra