Save jewellery at Griffith University!

On 2 November 2020 Griffith University released the Proposal for Workplace Change Roadmap to Sustainability (R2S), advising that they plan to cut the Jewellery & Small Objects course, along with the printmaking and other fine art studios.

The justification is a $700m shortfall this year.

J&SO and printmaking have the highest student satisfaction ratings within the QCA. But the courses were identified as high cost with specific spatial and technical requirements.

No doubt, it would be cheaper to teach Photoshop in a computer laboratory. But we need to consider the long-term implications of this loss of specialisation.

President World Crafts Council – Australia, Jude van der Merwe, urges for a reversal of this decision: “The World Crafts Council Australia urges the university to reconsider this course of action and commit to a serious investigative study about the resulting employment, directions and profiles of graduates in these courses.”

The J&SO program is the only university course of its kind in Queensland and one of only five nationally. According to Dr Kevin Murray, author of Place and Adornment: The History of Contemporary Jewellery in Australia and New Zealand, “The Queensland jewellery course is a national leader. It has a unique role in engaging with jewellery students and academics in our region, particularly Indonesia.”

The closure of this course will immediately lead to the loss of teaching and technical jobs. Queensland students will no longer have a pathway to future jobs in the jewellery and creative industries.

The skills and understanding of materials gained through specialisations like jewellery can benefit careers in other fields. The globally famous Australian designer Marc Newson first studied jewellery at Sydney College of Art.

Jewellery has a special value in Australia given the wealth of minerals from which the nation benefits. According to Dr Murray, “Despite humble origins as a convict colony, settlers found themselves on a land of great mineral riches. But we are left with more than holes in the ground. Australian art jewellery has gained a reputation on the world stage for its innovation and meaning. It proves that we are a country that can make things.”

The J&SO workshop at Griffith has taken years to develop. The loss of equipment and technical knowledge will be hard to restore in the future.

This decision goes against the grain of education elsewhere. RMIT University is about to implement a new craft specialisation program, led by its jewellery department.

According to Dr Murray, “Jewellery is one of the most dynamic art forms of our time. As wearable art, it offers an immediate and personal platform for creativity. Globally, art jewellery draws on democratic values that seek to transform a traditionally elite form into a medium for a diversity of experiences, including gender, colour, class. It has become a particularly important medium of expression for first nation peoples, especially in Australia.”

We urge you to sign this petition to help reverse this destructive decision.

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