“PROMISES” – Cinnamon Lee

by bilkgallery


PROMISES is an exhibition of new work by Cinnamon Lee exploring the multi-faceted nature of matrimony.

The first solo exhibition of Cinnamon Lee at Bilk she has been a regular exhibitor and a much valued part of our artistic team for 13 years and we are proud to showcase this exceptional exhibition of her highly collected rings.

 “Making a ring for someone’s wedding is always different to making any ordinary ring. ‘Forever’ echoes through my thoughts throughout the making process. With each stroke of the file, every tap of the hammer, as my own hands familiarize themselves with each metallic circle, I imagine the future owner of the ring doing the same…remembering that they may wear the ring on their bodies everyday for the rest of their lives. It can be a rather weighty concept with a burden of significant responsibility.”  – Cinnamon Lee 2013 

Conjugal rings are powerful objects and arguably the most sentimental of all jewels. Their scale is minute, yet they can carry vast amounts of emotional investment and often equally vast amounts of monetary value. For such tiny objects, they resonate with a multitude of complex meanings. They convey universally understood connotations regarding social and marital status, while simultaneously embodying personal promises shared intimately between couples. These kinds of rings are unique as objects in their ability to become intrinsic parts of people’s personalities and even their bodies – they are often one of the only items worn on the body that is never removed. At the same time they are objects that may gather so much emotional embellishment that their owners are incited to cast the precious jewels into gaping valleys or vast oceans in dramatic acts of abandon.

This exhibition provokes consideration of the symbolic significance of matrimonial rings, their overt value and their more covert meanings. Continuing my preoccupation with secrecy and stealth, many of the pieces in this exhibition have hidden details and some have parts that are not visible at all. A collection of promises made to be kept rather than broken.


 16th August – 21st September 2013


Johannes Kuhnen’s opening speech:

Welcome to Bilk and Cinnamon Lee’s opening Promises a title so topical in these weeks. 

We are currently bombarded with promises, some only holding for a few weeks most will have been deemed as non core promises before the next 3 years are up, but that has nothing to do with the promises considerate in this exhibition. I am not certain if Cinnamon really needs an introduction as a lot of people here are friends, former students or long term admirers of her work. Cinnamon was one of the outstanding students that came through the Gold and Silversmithing workshop at ANU.

Her later appointment as lecturer was one of the fortunate moments in the SoA history but her decision a few years later to only focus on her own practice is one that I personally admire, even if it meant I was losing a brilliant colleague. It is really nice to have her back here to look at the next installment of her artistic practice.

In this exhibition Cinnamon investigates the visualization and materialization of the promises entered into in a personal relationship. The traditional wedding ring is a powerful symbol of such relationships but had for some time lost the significants of its symbolic qualities under the sometimes over emphasized focus on material value and its associated social status. All the glitz our conventional jewellery friends up the lane display during daytime hours does very little to deepen the symbolic bond between two people.

Cinnamon’s rings don’t display glitz, the gemstones are tuned back to black, if visible at all,  in an attempt to stay clear of the conflicts associated with commercial diamond mining. The black stones are not the most desirable on the international market, but the unfathomable depth of these stones makes them very suitable to carry personal and symbolic values. Enclosing these stone totally goes even further, only the two owners and there ring maker share in the knowledge of the hidden treasure, are privy to a message concealed inside. The joining of the 2 components of the ring sealing a stone or stones  or a written message inside, holds further symbolic significants, without given access to the bystander.

The ring could even be broken up again if the promises are not kept.

Powerful stuff indeed.

There is another aspect to Cinnamons rings, all of them are generated initially as digital files – which makes it possible to alter the design for each individual wearer, and it is the mastery of the following on additive manufacturing process that has become so much a Cinnamon trademark. It is technically not possible to make some of her designs without the use of this manufacturing process. The design is in-sync with its production technology, both enhancing each other, – making sense –  this is most evident in the single wider rings Cinnamon continues to make for some time – the morphing of one contour into another within the constrains of the thickness of a ring band – a form of magic – sometimes secretive – containing private messages.

Cinnamons work is materialized communication between the giver and receiver of a ring it is innovation at its best.

Please enjoy the exhibition and look at the I-Pad to pry into some of the secrets concealed within the rings.