St Peter’s Memorial Church

Recently I was invited to collaborate on a project at one of the local churches here in Kinglake. I was included in the gang with Peter Toyne and Gary Cornelius due to interest in the way I have been working with recycled glass. They had a particular idea that they thought I would fit perfectly.

St Peter’s Memorial Church was first built in 1922 to commemorate first world war soldiers and has a long history in the area. Just before it was due to be heritage listed, the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires came through and consumed the little wooden church. The church community has collected and salvaged many parts of the church, including milling wood from an old blackwood tree that stood by the church.

church outside

Artist, Peter Toyne has been leading the charge with the artistic input into the rebuilding of the church and he has been appointed to construct many of the features.  My part of the project concerned the beautiful amber glass that had been collected from the original windows.  You can see them below as they were in the old church.

interior L

We began with some very formal designs that were exploring biblical references and through the design process came to a focus of Mary. Ideas surrounding the importance of Mary her significance within the bible began to fuel the design direction. We got together to look at the blackwood slabs to select some pieces that might be suitable to work with and we found a piece that had a lot to say. Peter and Gary worked on refining the images of Mary and Gabriel, complete with wings, already present in the wood while I collected specimens from the surrounds of the church to cast. All of the plant species I chose are native and growing right there next to the church. I have included Tree Fern, Kangaroo Apple, Hazel Pomaderris, Mountain Grey Gum, Musk-Daisy Bush, Round-leaf Pomaderris and of course, Blackwood. When the light catches the glass pieces they reflect a gentle amber glow.

The new St Peter’s has been constructed and added to over the last 9 years and it has an amazing view all the way out across to Melbourne which the new church fully captures. There are still more elements to be added to the church such as a memorial garden for those lost in the Black Saturday Bushfires. There is more replacing, repairing and reinstating elements that were salvaged from the old church. It is an honour to be a part of something so special and that will continue to carry on a meaningful message into the future of this historic little church.

church viewIMG20180608153318frontplaque detailmary detail  A book detailing the history of this little church with a big story. Explore his folio section for other works that are installed in St Peter’s.


A special commission

In 2017 my graduation work from my BA of Fine Art was solely concentrated on using horse hair as my material. It was a deliberate step away from using glass as my main material in an attempt to push myself out of my comfort zone a little. My work was seen by a lady who had something very special in mind that I could utilise my making skills on.

She wanted me to make a vessel for her but she wanted to provide me with the material. This had been waiting, she said, for something wonderful. It was a long pony-tail from her late husband. They had cut the hair off prior to his chemotherapy treatment. Four years ago he lost his battle with Cancer.

So I began with great honour to be asked to make something with such a precious part of her life. There were some days that I found it difficult to work on the piece. The hair was much finer and more challenging to work with than I was used to and there was no way that I wanted to add any kind of product to make the hair conform. I have not added any other thread to the piece, the only material used in the form is the hair I was given. There were also days where I became too emotional to work on the piece. Aside from being quite anxious about this material that I was working with from the aspect that I just couldn’t mess it up, this is a quiet contemplative technique that allows a lot of time for thoughts.

I recently delivered the work along with a Mountain Ash canister for it to store in and she was very happy with the result. There were tears and hugs and I must say I am relieved that it is complete and so incredibly humbled that she chose me and trusted me wholeheartedly to create such a special piece for her.

human hair vessel and mountain ash canister michelle stewart

Walk With Me

In March/April this year I presented my first solo show titled ‘Walk With Me’ at the Warburton Arts Centre.

recycled glass brooches x3 michelle stewart

fossil brooches

fern brooches x5 recycled glass michelle stewart

fern brooches

leaf brooches recycled glass michelle stewart

leaf broochesrecycled glass objects leadbeaters possum helmeted honeyeater michelle stewart

State Faunal Emblems – objects


recycled glass fine silver small plaques michelle stewart

fossil plaques

images- Andrew Barcham


Here are some shots from set up with the Curator Jade Bitar and lovely assistant Ali Griffin.

DSC04078installation of exhibition walk with me 2018DSC04089DSC04091

The show completed.


DSC04200DSC04213DSC04063DSC04198Screenshot (145)Screenshot (176)


Venice – Arte Laguna Art Prize

IMG20180318042553IMG20180318043912IMG20180318041201arte laguna prize awardARS of Glass Venice

So this is what I did last week… I flew to Venice to accept my award! It was my first time to Venice which in itself was great. It was pretty chilly and it even snowed one morning while  there. Such a beautiful city. I am so thrilled to be a part of the Arte Laguna Art Prize and have my glasswork exhibited in Venice. This is such an amazing show with some incredible works featured. I feel very special to be part of such an immense show  and to be able to visit the show and be there to accept my award was an experience I won’t forget. Of course I visited Murano and saw some amazing galleries there, Carlo Moretti Gallery was lovely and my favourite by far was Marina e Susanna Sent. The work in here is totally divine! I drank spritz and bellini’s, ate pizza and lasagne and walked (and walked) around the many (many) laneways and bridges in Venice and thoroughly enjoyed the whole trip.

Frankie award

I am thrilled to have been selected for the Craft Victoria Fresh! Exhibition and was so excited to be awarded one of the prizes at the opening last week! What a lovely way to start the year. I was the winner of the Frankie magazine award, which means I get an online feature with Frankie and some other goodies!

The Fresh! awards were celebrating 25 years and the first installment at the new premises of Craft. I made some sales on the opening night and hope that more good things will unfold from the great exposure that Craft can provide. Plus, I was featured on the Craft website home page as an advert for the exhibition. Below is an excerpt from the catalogue featuring my work. The entire catalogue can be found here. 

By now you have seen this image a few times, and it isn’t quite finished yet! I have a solo show coming up at Warburton Arts Centre in March that I am super excited about. The work at Fresh! will be featured as well as some new pieces that I have made so far this year. I might give you a little peek at some of that soon. The exhibition is called Walk With Me and is focused on the forest of the Central Victorian Highlands, where I live.

Screenshot (140)


Andrew Barcham _ leaves cropped _ small file

I am very pleased to be a part of the Craft Victoria’s annual show called Fresh! with my recycled glass series, ‘What Have You Got To Lose?’. I am excited to not only exhibit alongside some amazing artists and friends but to have this incredible opportunity to have my work shown with Craft, who is such a great supporter of Australian artists.

Fresh! celebrates the next wave of Victorian graduates in contemporary craft and design. Presented annually since 1993, through Fresh! Craft continues to showcase the energy, skill and innovation of some of the best graduating students from craft, design and fine art disciplines throughout the state.

Fresh! provides an important opportunity for graduates beginning their career as makers.  We know from experience that Fresh! alumni can go onto great heights.

A team of professional craft practitioners, curators and industry experts are invited by Craft to attend graduate exhibitions of over 30 departments within Tertiary and TAFE institutions across Victoria.  From these exhibitions, the freshest works that explore contemporary craft and design practice are selected to become part of the Fresh! exhibition program.

-from the Craft Victoria website.

More about the show can be found here… Craft. 

Craft Victoria

Watson Place, Melbourne 3000

Craft Opening Hours

Monday-Wednesday 11am-6pm

Thursday – Friday 11am-7pm.

Saturday 10am-5pm.

03 9650 7775  /

MADE IT!!!!!

There has been a long break between posts this year. I have been studying at RMIT University, Melbourne and completing my Honours year of my BA of Art (Fine Art) and along with a busy year of shows and an internship has all but consumed my life and everything attached to it! I have now completed my assessment schedule and with only the Grad Show to finalise, I am done. There has been a lot of writing involved with the course which is perhaps the reason I haven’t kept up the posts on here so well. This year has been full of pushing and pulling and sometimes dragging myself all over the place. It has been challenging and wonderful. And frustrating and completely draining. I have been able to participate in local and international shows, an internship, as well as sneak in a few commissions that took way too long to complete. I am feeling quite proud of myself and I am so glad that I went back to study and complete this course that I had dreamed of doing for a long time.

In July I was part of show called in between, with a fabulous group of artists at the Creative Spaces exhibition space called The Dirty Dozen. The space is a series of cabinets that span the subway of Campbell Arcade leading to/from Flinders Street Station and Degraves Lane in the Melbourne CBD. You can see the full list of artists’ work on the instagram page titled @in_between_2017, but here are a few little snaps of mine during set up time.

michelle stewart recycled glass for dirty dozen exhibition

My work selected for the Dirty Dozen show. Recycled glass, flax, sterling silver. 2017

2017 was also a year that hosted the biennial programs of Radiant Pavilion (which our Dirty Dozen show was a part of); Graduate Metal XV that was held as a part of Making Out, the JMGA conference presented in partnership with RMIT University School of Art, the National Gallery of Victoria and Radiant Pavilion (for which I also was a volunteer to help with the running of the program); and Contemporary Wearables ’17 at the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery (I was selected to be a part of this prestigious show). As if this wasn’t enough to manage while in the depths of my study I was also accepted into the annual Marzee International Graduates Show which is held at the fabulous Gallerie Marzee in the Netherlands. This gallery has also included my work in a follow on exhibition as part of the Dutch Jewellery Festival exhibiting at Museum Het Valkhof in Nijmegen.


                  The Marzee International Graduate Show 2017                                  image from 


                 The Marzee International Graduate Show 2017                                 image from 

Wrapping up the year of exhibitions was a show with Gabbee Stolp at RMIT’s First Site Gallery. It was called To The Future Lost and is a follow on exhibition from our show last year, Memorials To The Future Lost. It was a show about our Australian Endangered and Critically endangered wildlife and the impact of man. In a mausoleum style setting we provided a space to contemplate and reflect on the ways in which human impact affects our unique flora and fauna. Here are some images from the exhibition.

Christmas Island Pipestrelle(Extinct 2009), Gabbee Stolp, 2016  /  Peophila cincta cincta Vs Adani, Michelle Stewart, 2017  /  Marked with an X – Leadbeater’s Possum, Michelle Stewart, 2017

gallery shot 1gallery shot 2

Thylacine_Michelle Stewart and Gabbee Stolp

Thylacine (Extinct 1936) Gabbee Stolp and Michelle Stewart, 2017

Thylacine 2_Michelle Stewart and Gabbee Stolp

close up Thylacine (Extinct 1936)

mine mining_EPBA scales_Michelle Stewart

Mine/Mining 6 & 7 and 8, EPBA scales, Michelle Stewart, 2017

Greater Glider_Gabbee Stolp

Greater Glider (Endangered), Gabbee Stolp, 2017

stick nest rat_Gabbee Stolp

Greater Stick Nest Rat (Endangered), Gabbee Stolp, 2017

mountain galaxias_Gabbee Stolp

Mountain Galaxias(Endangered) I, II & III, Gabbee Stolp, 2016

Marked with an x _ Under-story_Michelle Stewart

Marked with an X – The Leadbeater’s Possum and The Under-story, Michelle Stewart, 2017

So now with the year almost wrapped up I am looking forward to the adventures to come. I have some fun summer projects ready to start, a very special commission and I think next year will be full of exciting things!!

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