'Above Earth Below Sea'; A hipsterific gallery launch

‘Are you free next Wednesday night? There’s a cool hipster gallery opening in Rozelle…’ read the friendly SMS.

Immersed in the preppy lifestyle of the corporate mainstream, the obscure ‘hipster’ world continues to mystify despite my devoted endeavours to break free from the confined structure of ‘after five’ (or closer to seven).   In true un-hipster style, I turned to the dictionary (of the urban variety) to get a sense of what I was missing out on.

"...Hipsters are a subculture that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock. Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often be seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, and sometimes thick rimmed glasses. Both hipster men and women sport similar androgynous hair styles that include combinations of messy shag cuts and asymmetric side-swept bangs. Such styles are often associated with the work of creative stylists at urban salons, and are usually too "edgy" for the culturally-sheltered mainstream consumer..." 
The Urban Dictionary

Counter-culture or not, the launch of ‘Above Earth Below Sea’ at Paper Plane Gallery was an impressively original showcase of ‘contemporary jewellery and objects’ by Australian and Japanese artists.

The eclectic crowd was treated to an eerily mesmerizing performance by Japanese singer TeN, whose music was an enchanting combination of live singing, poetry and ipod-directed echoes.  Australians Kate Brown and Sandra LaRocca also performed a number of their own songs, an earthy contrast to TeN’s elegant recital.

Singer TeN
 The art – or ‘objects’ – represented an exploration of jewellery as functional art, embracing unconventional materials not often considered for their decorative value such as plastic bags, interactive screens and disposable beverage bottles.  The artists write on their blog that the notion of value in jewellery is shifting towards a story being told by the maker, and not just the market value of the material.

Flowers made from disposable beverage bottles
Connecting to nature - taking time to smell the roses
The central theme evident among the diverse range of artworks was an expression of how the artists connected to nature.  While the exhibition was conceived and planned before the Japanese natural disasters, there was an emphasis on compassion for those in the affected areas.  Funds were raised for the Red Cross throughout the night.

At risk of being labelled ‘a culturally sheltered mainstream consumer’ by the shaggy haired hipster crowd, the Paper Plane gallery will appeal to all who have an interest in art, nature and the philosophical connection between the two.  Which raises the equally philosophical conundrum; when the ‘counter culture’ is embraced by the mainstream, is it still hipsterific?

Hipsterific or mainstream?
Paper Plane Gallery
727 Darling St

Exhibition continues to August 15th. Thu-Fri 12-6pm; Sat-Sun 11-4pm 

Part of Sydney Design 2011, presented by the Powerhouse Museum 

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