Installation view of Aphra Cheesman’s work <em>Holes</em> 2021–22 on display as part of the <em>Melbourne Now</em> exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March – 20 August 2023.   Image: Tom Ross

Aphra Cheesman

Aphra Cheesman
(b. 1989, Auckland, New Zealand. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Aphra Cheesman’s multidisciplinary practice explores the complex connections between people, materials and objects under capitalist systems. Working across contemporary jewellery, objects, drawing, video and sculpture, Cheesman seeks out moments where subjec–object relations might transcend these systems to consider alternative modes of interrelationship.

Holes, 2021–22, is a collection of brooches and pins inspired by worn patches on ubiquitous, everyday items of clothing and furniture. Like all Cheesman’s work, the series is drawn from the overlooked and in-between moments of everyday life. Here, she documents the traces of encounters between people and things, reconstructing worn patches to make tangible the contact zones between bodies and objects, and revealing how objects retain signs of the past. Re-imagining jewellery’s traditional function as decorative adornment, Cheesman asks if the brooch might be used as an alternative mode of repair, fastened to pieces of clothing, furniture or textiles to patch up frayed or tattered areas. While some pieces are designed to be worn on the body, others can be attached to domestic items like couches and rugs. The collection has been handmade in Cheesman’s Brunswick studio, using metalworking processes such as silver soldering, welding and a range of experimental forming and surface techniques. These one-off works employ various recycled, new and scrap metals alongside less traditional jewellery-making materials, such as paint and found everyday objects.

Cheesman has exhibited in Australia and internationally and was selected for the Fresh! graduate showcase at Craft Victoria (2019) and the Marzee International Graduate Show in the Netherlands (2019). She is currently a participant in New Zealand’s HANDSHAKE project, a mentoring program for emerging jewellery artists, and was a finalist in Germany’s Talente, 2021. Cheesman has received numerous awards and grants, including the Future Leaders Award from Craft (2019) and the Joel Elenberg and Emily Hope prizes from RMIT University (2020). She holds a Bachelor of Fine Art (Honours) from RMIT University (2020).