Munchin on Munchen

I arrived in Munich on the 15th of March around 9.30am. I spent the morning getting acquainted with the shower and much welcomed space and wardrobes in my hotel room. It was absolute bliss to have a space that would be only mine for the next week, where I was free to leave clothes on the floor and stay up as long as I liked without inhibiting others lives. In the afternoon I decided to get my bearings of the city. I decided trying to find a post office (surprisingly, not always an easy task in Europe) would be a good way to figure it out. Four hours later I returned with postcards sent and a bag of new clothes and a general sense of the layout of the city. The NZ crew met in the lobby of our hotel, The Blauer Bock- As a slight aside, if you ever travel to Munich for the Jewellery pilgrimage week, I would highly, highly, recommend staying at this fine establishment. Not only is it very centrally located, but it is also the main hotel that exhibitors, jewellers, gallery owners, and dealers stay at. Residing here for the week gave us all a huge advantage in the networking front. We were meeting people over breakfast that we might not have had the opportunity had we not been staying there. Anyway, we then ventured out for our first dinner as a group, joined by Helen Britton. We got better acquainted and had our first experience of a Bavarian beer hall and the complete menu of meat- not much choice for vegetarians here!

The next morning we met for breakfast. There was a real sense of excitement and nervousness building as today was the first day of Handwerksmesse being open. We headed out on the train to the Fair halls. When we got inside the hall, it felt like one of those prizes you win where they ask you to grab as much stuff from the aisles as you can in a certain amount of time. There was a huge want to run straight to the back of the hall, which is where Talente was situated, to see your work and the set-up. However, on the way you’re being distracted by the variety of inventions, processes, works, pieces and installations. We swiftly made our way on restrained legs to the back and went hunting for our work. My initial excitement was stifled for a second upon recognition that they only used two of my pieces instead of the four that were sent over. After conversation I was told it is quite common for them to not use all pieces as there is limited space and a need for cohesion and digestion in display. My work was also displayed on glass which I was unfamiliar with and had shadows hanging over my work from the pieces above which took a bit of getting used to. I suppose I had trouble with the limited group of my pieces because they came from a body of work consisting of 25 pieces, which was reduced to 8 for application, then 4 accepted  and finally two. When you make the work knowing that they all speak to each other, to find the conversation limited to say, two words instead of 25, you are speaking very publicly with what feels like a limited vocabulary. I really had to look at the work as an outsider instead of myself. Once I did this I realised it wasn’t too bad , my work spoke for itself and I should really just enjoy the privilege of having my work displayed there! I then proceeded to check out the NZ contingent’s work. What a talented lot I was lucky enough to be in the company of. Very proud! I spent the next three hours checking out Talente and Schmuck. My favourites in Talente were Li-Chu Wu, Rosa Nogues, Timothy McMahon, Veera Metso, Jasmin Matzakow, Hanna Lundborg, Nadine Kuffner, Eleanor Bolton,  Robert Hoffmann, Dik Scheepers, Amba Molly, Laura Stracke, Joscha Brose and of course, Anzac Tasker, Rachel Bell, Corrina Hoseason and Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova, the beautful and talented Kiwi’s I travelled with.  In all honesty I wasn’t as wowed by the Schmuck installation as I thought I would be. I felt, especially in comparison, that Talente was more innovative and exciting. However, some of my favourites were Jasmin Winter, Jennifer Trask, Stefano Marchetti, Mia Maljojoki, Robert Baines, Lisa Walker, Sophie Hanagarth, Attai Chen, Jorge Castanon (also staying at our hotel and one of the most delicious people I met- fondled his jewellery over breakfast, absolutely breathtaking) and Peter Bauhuis. The Manfred Bischoff series was beautiful to see. He had a large cabinet to himself with about a dozen pieces all made from gold with corresponding drawings. The galleries that had travelled to the fair included Gallery Ra, Platina and Gallery Marzee. My favourite display would have to of been Platinas’. The high wall was covered with a collaboration installation/work made entirely from a single piano. There would have been hundreds of pieces and it was stunning (although they could only fit roughly half of the piano pieces on the wall)

Sorry, a bit of background about Handwerkskammer, The German chambers of crafts council. They organise the annual fair at the Handwerksmesse, what used to be the old Munich airport. Consisting of 6 refurbished airport hangers, you could find anything from how to make sausages, to crash test cars, to panelbeating tutorials. It is essentially a hand-craft fair. I will be completely honest and say in the three or four visits I made out to the Messe, I didn’t even make it out of our hall. If I was to divulge even more information, for the first two visits I didn’t even make it out of the back third of our hall that included Talente, Schmuck, Exemplar (artists working inside the space, such as Karl Fritsch) and some textile artists. To take it all in is impossible. I imagine if you were just a punter it would still be hard work. After three or four hours we were all pretty visually saturated with enough goodies to take home and file away in our sleep.  We headed back to our hotel for a wee break before the next outing.

We met in the lobby and all ventured off to our first exhibition opening of the week, ‘Hautnah’. Eunmi Chun and Akiko Kurihara were students of Otto Kunzli at The Munich Academy. It was interesting to see the layout choices and the work itself. Although Akiko’s works were very clever and witty, my favourite works were the animals made by Eunmi Chun from hair, goldleaf, bowel and seeds.  After that, off to another dinner and prep for the next day.

The following day was full of exhibition openings. I made it to three before lunchtime. My favourite of the three would have to be “LOOK” as curated by Ruudt Peters. (Images here You walked into the space only to find it was all black lit which was an interesting concept to reckon with. On one hand it was really unique and gave a new perspective to the work as it was all on a central white table, but on the other hand it was hard to see the detail of the pieces. People were using cellphones to illuminate the work. I had this same issue with at my exhibition  last year with Julia Middleton,  Off/On. We had our work on red plinths, illuminated internally with L.E.D lights. This allowed for a bit of lighting but as the night grew darker, this wasn’t enough to show detail of the work.(The exhibition was held at Foxglove bar on a huge white bookcase) I will however be using this to my advantage for my next exhibition.

After the morning of exhibitions and some very nice cheesecake with Alan Preston, we made our way to The Munich Academy of the Arts. Here we were shown around by Jiro, Otto Kunzli’s assistant and also a jeweller exhibiting during the week. What a grandiose building the academy is. Very interesting to see the workspaces and get a general feel for the day-to-day goings-on. The workspaces range from 4-8 people to a room. Casting, forging etc have their own rooms. To be honest, I had heard about the Academy and held all sorts of false notions about it, such as, you had to study for 6 years. The party we went to on the Friday night, organised annually by the jewellery students of The Academy (fucking great party!), gave me the opportunity to speak to Otto and clear up a few of these soon-to-be misunderstandings. Here goes: minimum study is three years, which equates to diploma level, any study over that does not gain you extra qualifications. You have access to all other disciplines workshops and tutors, such as ceramics, printmaking, sculpture and performance. It costs $1600ish NZ a year to study (400 Euro a semester).  They have weekly round table discussions, done in english but mostly German. I feel myself being swayed…

I know I’m missing out a few key events in the middle here but it generally consisted of exhibition openings, loads of walking, fine food and lots of Weisbeer (beer doesn’t taste the same since I’ve been back). On the Thursday night was a meet and greet kind of night at the Messe (Messe is what the fair halls are called). Mostly it was just talking to people and spying on people looking at your work.

Friday morning we all headed off to Helen Brittons catalogue launch, ‘Jewellery Life’. This went on for a few hours and was a great opportunity to meet interesting people and see the work on show at the gallery. On the Friday night I worked at Karl Fritsch, Gerd Rothmann and Robert Baines’ exhibition opening, “Returning to the jewel is a return to exile” at the Residenz.  This is not the first time the trio have shown together at The Residenz. For some background, check out this article by the wonderful Vivian Atkinson . The work was again featured on a blue disc shaped table circling a centred marble column. Although their work is very different in aesthetic, each jeweller had a third of the disc for their work, allowing for easy distinction, digestion and viewing of the pieces. Gerd made me wear one of his necklaces and a ring for the duration of the opening, to which I happily obliged. He believes that jewellery should be seen on the body, demand a presence and at the end of the day is the jewellers’ relationship with the wearer that defines it. His work is wonderfully playful but also very skillfully made and he is one in the category of few jewellers who do not deny the hand of the maker, or at least the reminder of the human connection (as seen with use of finger prints). He seems to be adding more and more colour to his work of late which is refreshing and eye-catching.

Robert Baines’ work was again refreshing and a new tangent for him. There was a very cheeky and sneaky undertone to his work which I can’t disclose at this time as it might ruin the point. Baines has branched out from his known application of red and gold to a flourishing colour pallet in his work. He is exploring deeper away from the filigree style work though still keeping with the constructionist style that he does so well. Hi brooches were all structures, either square or round, that were reminiscent of fields or flower shoots, and amongst these were mostly giraffes and a few with kangaroos. They were very weighty pieces but  intriguing when worn and also made the wearer want to constantly look down at them.

Karl’s work was typical in his amount of it. There were more rings than we could keep an eye on and a constant stream of people wanting to try them on. What seems to me like a freedom in my work I could never attain, Karl manages to pull off with ease. This is not however, to be thought of as free of requiring knowledge of direction and philosophy. Aside from the rings, Karl had some pieces that I had never seen before. Giant pendants made of clay that resembled door knockers and antiquated vessels with legs newly attached. I had my most enjoyment out of people trying to make sense of these works in a jewellery context.

After the ‘exclusive’ opening finished, I had the pleasure of Karl being my exhibition tour guide for the next few hours. We dashed along to Rebellen der Liebe, an exhibition of work by Alexander Blank, Stefan Heuser, Christian Hoedl and Jiro Kamata- all students of Otto Kunzli. The work of all four was extremely varying in style and the way it was curated and installed was interesting and as far as I know, unique. It was not your standard four white walls gallery set-up. As you walked in there was a cabineted little bench with a selection of work as well as a few pieces in the corner on the wall. Behind this was a corridor that lead to the store-room. They had lined this with reflective goldish insulation material. I was encouraged to run as fast as I could down the corridor to experience the ripple and rush. It was pretty cool. At the end of this was a single cabinet with about three pieces in it. I enjoyed the corridor more to be honest. The final surprise was another area which was the largest room housing a half-pipe with jewellery hung on the side of it. It was interesting as you had to walk down the middle but couldn’t get too close to the work because of the gradient of the pipe. Interesting new take on curation and installation but really hard to restrain myself from running all over it.

After this we hoofed it down on the fantastic underground system to Förderpreis der Landeshauptstadt München 2011, a bi-annual exhibition and awards ceremony for Munich based designers. As said by Karl,this is an annual real munich incest event ,all the munich artists, designers , architects, photographers probably go through that at a certain stage of their career”. Winners here: I quickly had a look around at all that was there to offer, met a few more people then made off for the next destination, Pinakothek der Moderne.

On the way to Pinakothek der Moderne we discussed the merits of the rumour about micro-chipping and DNA testing dogs in Munich so if they shit on the street, the resulting defecation can be traced back to the owner who didn’t pick it up, resulting in a fine. We wondered what kind of uniform the shit officer would have to wear and if he/she would be higher or lower on the social dislike scale in comparison to parking wardens… The Pinakothek was packed with all the jewellery crowd that had besieged Munich for the week. I was beginning to recognise quite a few faces by the end of it. The occasion at the Pinakothek was the opening of Peter Skubics exhibition, ‘Radical’. By this stage however, I was feeling quite tired, hungry and had had a few drinks. I decided no to view it at this time, especially knowing I would be distracted on the way. I instead eventually made moves back to the hotel to meet with Anzac Tasker and Alan Preston, my two chapperones to the Academy party that was going on that night. All I will say is that the night was long, the Weisbeer was perfect, Alan was much-loved by the French students and we all had a rollicking good night.

Saturday 19th March. Half way through the week and just getting started. We headed out to the Messe again as Saturday is the prizegiving day. Sadly none of us Nz’ers were recipients of awards this year, however all the winners were well deserving. After lots of clapping we made off to our next destination which was the annual dinner for all involved at the Handwerksmesse. This involves all exhibiting jewellers in town, gallery owners and collectors, visiting students and anyone else that has affiliations. So you can understand how, when we did a rough count at the 13th Century beer hall where it housed, that we came up with 1000 people. Imagine the networking that went on that night! I experienced drinking a beer as big as my head and met people from all around the world. Biggest bonus of the night would have to be meeting and having a conversation with Manfred Bischoff and getting commissioned to make a brooch for a Dutch collector. If you’re ever in Munich for the week, be sure to muscle your way in there with your best made jewels on and talk the night away. On Monday we all went back to the Messe to take photo’s and absorb a bit more than we had been able to. It was also my birthday! What a fantastic place Munich was to spend my25th birthday thanks to the NZ crew.

I am now at four pages long and I still have three days left in Munich. I’m sure some of you will be losing interest so will keep it simple as possible.  The next major event for me, and the last one I will talk about was spending a few hours at The Pinakothek der Moderne.  If you ever go, make sure you have light bags and lots of cash in your wallet as they have the best bookstore ever and they’re extremely cheap. I fortuitously bumped into Alan at the ticket office and we started at Peter Skubics retrospective exhibition on the top floor. His installation would have to be one of my favourites I’ve seen. It was made up of the work displayed on various wooden tables with glass cases atop, tied down with a single black strop over each. A real mix between the comfort of the kitchen table and the inability to touch the work because of the glass casings and the strength of the strops. I wasn’t  drawn to every piece as a whole but they all had elements to them that I not only liked but have also drawn inspiration from.

It was also interesting to see his leap from his architectural type coloured/mirrored brooches into large-scale sculpture replicas. From here I ventured around the rest of the Museum. I had many monumental experiences of seeing artists work in the flesh that I had only ever seen in books. I saw my first Picasso’s and Dali’s, Joseph Bueys had a massive collection of his work on show, saw some of Dan Flavins’ glowing work. By now uber excited and by myself so must have looked like a crazy person with a tic trying to hold it all together. And there’s more! Downstairs they have this massive collection of design over time. Everything from electronics to automobiles to furniture. Have enough inspiration for a house! Now it gets really juicy. Below all of this, deep in the earth of the Pinakothek is The Danner Rotunda. Here is housed one of the worlds best collection of contemporary jeweller. The current curator for the works is Karl Fritsch. His way of display is at once striking and easy to digest. He has purposefully selected works that give a wide scope of jewellery while also being at the top of its game. Karl has not added names directly with the work so you’re taking the work only on its merit. This bought an overwhelming sense of calm over me when viewing the collection. Thankfully it wasn’t until after I’d seen it all that I saw the A6 pull out done in Karls typical hand drawing associating pieces with artists. There was one cabinet with only bracelets all in a row. Even though they were all by various artists using various materials it was delicious to ponder over. Other cabinets remind me of my sister who used to set up her myriad of porcelain and glass animals as if they were having a conversation this was the biggest feeling I got from the groupings. They were all from different backgrounds but were getting on like a house on fire. It was beautiful to look at.

What a fine way to end the week that was Munchen. I am now back home and feverishly searching for a new studio to get making. Forgive me for any errors I have made and feel free to correct me anyone that recalls better than myself.  I’ve been having trouble keeping normal conversation and think it’s about time to start speaking without words again. Lebewohl!



Time for a digestive me thinks

I have spent the last few days holed up in the south of France trying to digest what has just happened to me. My senses are so wonderfully assaulted from my week in Munich. When people have talked about coming away from Munich with a feeling of Schmuck overload I used to think they were being silly. I now take it all back. I will try to write something that goes someway to explain the week, though I imagine I will have to revisit at a time when I can be more comprehensive. I can tell already that it will take me a fair few posts to share the week.

I will start by introducing the NZ team that I was lucky enough to be sharing the week with. Very rarely could you get a bunch of 8 adults together in a close situation and expect everyone to get on. However, I can say from this trip I have made some talented, hilarious and wonderful lifelong friends. Fran Alison travelled with us as our mentor. We couldn’t have asked for a more informed, contact savvy, kind and fun person for this role. Fran made us all feel comfortable from the word go, was always willing to have a beer with us and give us any snippets of information that were helpful not only for our stay in Munich, but also for our practices. For these pearls of wisdom I cannot thank her enough. You can find her work and a bit about her here Next up on the list was the one and only Alan Preston. What a divine pleasure it was to meet this man. He was so full of energy and enthusiasm and so easy to talk to. I think he saw more exhibitions than all of us and covered more ground and was still eager to come for a beer at 1am. I hope I am half the person he is when I am 70. We also had Emma Ward from Creative New Zealand. It was so lovely to meet her and thank her for all of the hard word herself and Creative New Zealand put into making this trip possible for us.

Now, onto the Makers and Shakers exhibiting at Talente. Rachel Bell. This lady not only makes deliciously enticing jewellery, but she is also one of the funniest people I have met in the last wee while. She has inspired me to break free a little in my making and is also an inspiration in the way she lives her life. Next on the list is Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova, known to us as Flora. Flora’s work is so painstakingly beautiful. She works with layered paper and cuts back into the layers. You can see her work here: Also exhibiting at Talente was the very sweet Corrina Hoseason. Another person, like me, who has just graduated from her degree. Corrina’s sculptures have reference to eighteenth-century Sérves porcelain tradition, but with a modern New Zealand cultural/agricultural twist Last but by far not least is the awesome Anzac Tasker. His work at Talente stopped everyone in their tracks. I think he is one of New Zealands most promising up and comings. Anzac is a typographical installation artist. Coming from a Monday-Friday job in graphic design, it is refreshing to see someone who is pushing the limits of their practice- bringing type back out from the computer screen. Anzac’s use of  type is truly ground-breaking. He’s one to keep your eye on for sure.

I’m going to leave it at that for today. More tomorrow..

Galleries- Amsterdam

Amsterdam. I love Amsterdam. Amsterdam has so much to offer .. contemporary jewellery available on a daily basis… to be one of the few full-time contemporary jewellery spots of today. Gallerie Ra, Rob Koudjis Gallerie and Louise Smit were the three I visited. By far the favourite two had to be Gallerie Ra and Rob Koudjis. They were each in their own way spectacular and individual. Gallerie Ra was the first on my list. turned up at 11.30 on my first morning only to find it didn’t open for another 30 minutes so I went for a lovely wander round Amsterdam. There is something about this city that really invites that. It is smaller than you think and exceptionally easy to navigate your way around. Anyway, after about an hour- didn’t want to look too obsessed- I returned to an open Gallerie Ra. Like many galleries there were drawers full of work which are only accessable to those who have the want to look. Exhibiting at the time was Iris Tsante and Svetlana Milosevic. The works by Iris Tsante were made entirely of pencil sharpenings and pencil nibs and they were beautiful. They had a look to them that exuded brittleness but as soon as you had a close look you could see the work that went into making them connected and strong. It again bought up questions of the value of materials that are brittle versus metalic objects and the price we pay for them. I know with myself, perhaps because I am a jeweller and know I can fix things, but I imagine more likely because I’m the type of person that doesn’t always take the best of care with things that belong to me- In other words, I’m a thrasher. I imagine if you’re paying decent money for something beautiful then you’re going to aim to take care of it. But then that always raises the possibility of when you’ve had a few drinks and anything can go wrong… Anyway. They also had works on display to the left as you walk in. These are on 3 or four different levels of cabineted glass that runs along the whole wall. This was really nice as it allowed you to view the works from underneath also. They were really helpful and inviting at Gallerie Ra. The woman who worked there a couple of days a week even pulled out a book of Rian de Jong’s work for me to look at which was really good to see a wider scope of it than just the internet- got to see more of her work that I’d never seen before. They had a bookcase of catalogues and a chair to sit and read them.

After this I headed to Rob Koudjis Gallery. had to be one of my favourite moments-as they all have been. Rob was exceptionally welcoming. Katja Prins is currently exhibiting. What a high to see her work in the flesh. I commented to Rob how nice it was seeing the progression of her work as I‘ve been watching it since I’ve been studying and it has helped inform my work. Then a beautiful woman walked in the door who Rob introduced to me as Katja. It was wonderful to meet her. She was a supremely delightful person and it was really nice to comment on her work and go some way to say thanks for the inspiration she had given me without sounding like a dweeb. The set up at Rob Koudjis Gallerie is fantastic. He has a rather large gallerie compared to most and the absence of steel filing drawers full of unseen jewellery was quite refreshing. We had a talk about how space between works on the wall was important to digest them. Instead of the filing drawers he just had a group of glass cabinets at the front and back displaying others work that wasn’t part of the current exhibition. If you’re ever in the area, go visit! 

I am currently on another overnight train, this time to the city of the annual jewellery migration-Munich. I talked to a friend today about what is in store for the week and it’s looking pretty busy even without gallery visits. Every day I will be spending about half the day at Talente and surrounding areas, like Schmuck. The rest of the day I will be visiting exhibitions on the gallery list that they give out every year. Tomorrow, Tuesday, I will be arriving and having dinner with the New Zealand contingent. Wednesday will be the first opening day where I imagine we’ll be running around looking at everything there is to see. On the Thursday night Karl Fritsch has informed me of a party happening at The Messe. The following day, Friday, I imagine I will again be at Talente, then head off for a further look at exhibitions. Then in the evening I am helping out at Karl Fritsch, Gerd Rothmann and Robert Baines’ exhibition opening “Returning to the jewel is a return from exile” at The Residenz.. This is going to be an eye opener for sure. See how the big kids do it! See who is attending and who is buying what and why. Then on Saturday it will be more of the same and then in the evening apparently they have a get together/prizegiving for people exhibiting at Talente and Schmuck. I imagine this will be a very interesting night. Will definitely give me a bit more knowledge of what the worldwide jewelery population consists of. Then again on Sunday I will be helping out at Karl, Gerd and Roberts exhibition. On Monday I will be spending my 25th birthday in an unknown country with unknown people (although I imagine by then I would have made a few friends!). Tuesday will be the final day of Talente and Schmuck. I believe by then I will be completely worn out and looking forward to the 35 hours of quietish solitude I will have flying home on the 23rd. My my how time has flown. Now that I’m writing this I don’t want to leave. I understand how people become hooked on travelling like this. Your senses are continuously being inundated and overwhelmed- this makes me also understand the feeling of deflation people get when they arrive home after travel. To be hooked on the new and then be plunged back into the old is something I’m going to try to work with.


MicroMACRO Testaccio, Roma

So. First I will apologise for the gap in writing over the last week or so. I was busy travelling through 7 countries. What a blast! I will rewind to my last writing I did when I left Rome.

Macro Testaccio Gallery

So yesterday I discovered one of my new favourite galleries.MicroMACRO in Roma with the exhibtition, ‘Plus Ultra’. This has to be one of the best joint contemporary exhibitions I have ever been to. The quality and diversity of the works was superb. Housed in an old meatworks, the space is made up of high ceilings with the old railings carcusses would travel along. From these the work is often hung or supported. It might sound gorry but the space is light filled and a beautiful diversion from the standard gallery of four white walls.

As I walked in I was confronted by a lone man, wearing only some reading glasses, in all his ugly naked glory. This was a ‘Self-portrait’ by Pawel Althamer (1993)- made with fat, wax, animal intestines and hair. The more I looked, the more beautiful he became. Although the materials lead to a translucency and complete exposing of the reality of the materials, the intracacies of the making was phenomenal. You could see veins, hairy testacles, tendons on feet and hands.  He was so exposed in a way that I couldn’t help but feel priveledged that I was invited to see his ,in more way than one, bare naked self. Althamer often approaches the notions of the individual and community. He is especially interested in his precence as himself and the idea that his name is essentially just an address for him. As said in his artist statement, “ I built the sculpture of a man, a monument to Pawel Althamer.  Althamer is the sole object of my attention: it seems to me a way to register my physical presence in the world, and also a way to confront my work as an artist. It is possible that by standing next to an inert object that represents me I can feel more clearly the fact that I am alive?”

Another standout was Kiran Subbaihah  ‘Backwards ahead’ (2003) involved walking into a room that had two projections set up on either side. It was not until being in the room for 30 seconds that I realised the projections were a time delay replay of who had just gone through. This was a concept I found really interesting as it delved not only into the world off cctv and spying but also with the notion of past events, what has gone before you and you are not the only one to have trodden certain grounds. The picture that I took in there was not actually in real time, it was of me 30 seconds earlier. I like works that can mess with your head a little and make you think. 

Another one like this, though very simple in idea, was Paola Pivi’s polar bear covered in chicken feathers. “ Have you seen me before” (2008). It was a neat sight to come across and put a smile on my face. I like it when people fuck with the norm just a little bit. No point making life too easy for your brain to process.

There were many many more great things to see. If you look at their website you can take a virtual tour, which is great if you cant make it to an exhibition.

I ran out of time to visit their other main gallery which housed other exhibitions as it was further over the other side of town.

( I apologise for any spelling mistakes in the above post, spellcheck didn’t want to work for me)



So again I am on a train. This time I am leaving Firenze/Florence and on my way to Roma. What a difference it has been being on streets again with cars and scooters. Another automatic impact is the infiltration of the Renaissance. Every corner you look is some serious history looking right beck at you. Today I’ve seen paintings that are 800 years old, I saw the one and only David by Michelangelo, I went to a contemporary art exhibition called Talenti, the equivalent of Talente but for up and coming Italian artists. Biggest thing that hit me about this exhibition was that about half of the artists incorporated audio with their work. The standouts for me were Atonio Rovaldi, ‘The opening day’, a two channel video installation, one on either side of the room. The one on your right being a baseballer throwing a ball and the other video, about 20 metres away on the left, being his target-china vases. Alongside this is an audio that is timed so perfectly and naturally to parallel the movement of your head from throw to smash. Another was Ludovica Carbotta’s ‘Imitazione’ with her three sculptures made from cement casts of her feet while she stood on clay rich soil for a few minutes. Surmounted by a small plinth of reinforced concrete exactly equal to her body weight, creating interesting images of space, size and matter.…This was all housed in Palazzo Strozzi, an old palace of the Strozzi family- be honest, I really welcomed the snippet of contemporary when absolutely everything in the last week has been extremely old. Even though the pieces never lose their beauty, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and stop seeing the work for what it is.

Yesterday I was taking a stroll around Florence and came across a bridge called Ponte Vecchio that crosses the main river, Fiume Arno. A little bit of background info- the bridge was built for the Medici family as a private accessway between their two main palaces, as a means to travel without the need of bodyguards. The shops that were originally across the bridge were butchers and such. The Head of the Medici family told them they all needed to clear out as the smell that rose up to their private walkway was too much, so instead, the only shops that were allowed to reside there are….JEWELLERS! As you can believe, my excitement was high. Had a quick Gelato to boost up the sugar levels and stop me from fainting. I asked the lady that was showing me around if it was a mixture of classical and contemporary and she said yes, so you can understand my deflation when it was essentially gold bling of various forms. This aside, it was still an awe-inspiring sight to see such a grandiose amount of jewellery in one area. And as I said it was strictly jewellery. There was the one shop which worked completely from coral which was a nice break in the glimmering gold, and there was also the traditional Firenze style of knitted fine gold. This was extremely intricate and kind of made into miniature scarf-like lengths.

After this grand find I stumbled across Museo di Palazzo Vecchio. I happened to stumble across a once in a lifetime opportunity. Damien Hirst’s “For the love of God” was part of the exhibition and words are failing me now trying to explain what it was like to see it for real. It was just me and a friend Trish (and a security guard of course) in a black room with the diamond studded skull in the middle. The way that thing gives off all the colours of the spectrum of light is phenomenal. I looked and walked round and round until we got kicked out for the next people. Sadly I couldn’t take photos for you but it surely is burnt in my mind. Holy f@&#*%g shitballs man! Anyway, back to the rest of Palazzo Vecchio. It is the historical seat of the government of the city of Florence. It still also acts as the town hall at times. The rest of the Palazzo is old apartments (very grand private apartments ate that, and not small either). Paintings grace the walls and frescos cover the ceilings. If you ever travel to Florence I would recommend visiting Palazzo Vecchio.

After this we went to Museo Galileo- The institute and museum of science Here are housed so many instruments that date back further than I would have imagined. It was a really good museum, especially in the way it had videos explaining exactly what most instruments do, as being a bit of a novice in this area, I found this really informative and helpful. It was great to see the craftmanship that went into making the instruments. Considering they were made in an age when there were no power tools and everything was done by hand, the quality was phenomenal. The craftspersons of these deserve a lot of credit because making ginormous implements of out brass and not being able to make a mistake equates to a lot of pressure to get it right. The were oh so beautiful and inspiring. Makes me reflect on the quality of my work, but then also brings the question of not wanting things perfect…tricky one.

Visited Piazza Duomo this morning I really had no idea what I was in for when walking there. It blew my mind apart. The sheer grandiosity and scale of it is enough to floor you. There is no possibility of ever fitting it all in one photo from the ground. The extravagance of the exterior is like none before, but the difference with this church is that whereas most are opulent on the inside, this church has its beauty mostly on the outside, leaving the inside rather bleak in comparison. Until you see the frieze on the inside of the dome which is bigger than anything before or after.

I also stumbled across this below Pretty nice idea and good to see the love going on in the world.


Haven’t been getting much sleep since I’ve been away but I figure I’ll sleep when I’m dead. For now there is so much more to see…


Venice baby!

As i write this I have boarded my first train in Europe. I got hijacked in Venice for an extra night by my friends who I think purposefully made lunch drag on so I would miss my train. Not a bad thing at all as it ended up being the opening day of Carnival. People go slightly crazy in Venice at Carnival. The streets are heavily pregnant with people from all over Italy and the world. People are dressed in traditional Venetian costume, masks, wigs or animal costumes. Anything goes. It was an absolute riot. We went to a Campo ,which is like a square in the middle of apartments, where there were some phenomenal  Venetian bands. Booze was flowing and feet were moving- you had to coz it’s bloody cold there at the moment.

Veronica and I decided it was time to go our separate ways and start seeing other countries. Our union was sweet but we were destructive for eachother. Living off numerous bottles of divine Venetian wine, double lunches that go for four hours, and late nights lead to one feeling that it’s not sustainable. Not for me anyway, although this is the standard way of life for Venetians.

I have seen sights that you couldn’t imagine in your wildest dreams. Venice is a true fairytale 24/7. I got driven around in a friends boat-seeing Venice from the water gives a whole other perspective. I have seen colours so bold and vivid that your eyes feel drunk with the pleasure. I have been inside churches made entirely of marble that make you wish you could be immortalised in marble so you could stay inside forever.

One notable thing was that there really was not much in the way of contemporary jewellery. Morano, an island about 10 minutes from Venice has for centuries been the home of traditional Morano/Venetian glass. The whole island essentially consists of glass studios. So, as you can imagine, the jewellery available in Venice is mostly glass, except for serious gold and diamond bling for the rich. It got to the point I stopped looking at the jewellery as every second shop was selling glass jewellery and all of it very same same. (Check out this link to get an idea of what it looks like- friend asked if I would like to buy some glass for my work but I realised I prefer raw materials, like a blank canvas that I have complete free licence to do as I please.

The one jewellery shop that stuck out for me was Attombri. Using antique beads with contemporary beading techniques the Attombri brothers created beautiful forms. The thing that set them apart form the rest was the size of the glass they use(being mostly small beads), the colours and the forms they created.

There is huge potential for a contemporary jewellery gallery in Venezia. There is definately a niche and a market just waiting to buy something a bit different.

I am sad to see it go but i think it is best for my health to leave. Ciao Venezia, it’s been beautiful.

Borano- The colours of the houses identify which family you’re from.

Venice- Boat styles

The time is nigh…

So, I have finally finished packing up my house and all is stored away. The best packing I’ve ever done for a move. Everything is for once in labelled boxes instead of being hiffed in rubbish bags waiting to explode at the other end. The trials of packing for the opposite season on the opposite side of the world have been interesting. Also, what jewellery to take, how much and what can I take safely without it getting broken. Finally went and bought a pair of boots that don’t have holes in them, so feeling pretty set for the journey ahead. Will have warm, dry feet at least! Will be travelling through Switzerland instead of France now. Have been doing a bit of research on Basel where I will stay and turns out not only is it an exceptionally beautiful place, it also happens to have one of the highest ratio’s of galleries and museums per capita, with a whopping 300 galleries to 200,000ish people.Now that’s something to be excited about! Will keep you updated. For now it’s off to say goodbye to friends and countdown the days until I am in Venice.

Tickets have been booked!

So, after many days of sitting at the computer with numerous tabs open for numerous airlines, train companies and bus services, I gave into the confusion, walked out my door and into STA travel on Cuba St. Viktoria makes it look so easy. Within 15 or so minutes I have walked out the door with my itinerary in my hand and a smile on my face. I am going to Europe. To be exact I’m going to Europe in 24 days and  I am counting.

First stop will be Venice to stay with my darling friend Veronica Green. Not only is she a sensational artist, she’s also a cracker on the banjo. Check out her work at After Venice will be Florence, Rome and Milan. In Rome I look forward to visiting ALTERNATIVES contemporary jewellery gallery. Their website can be quite full on but the array of artists and their work is beautiful In Milan i will be visiting Alessandra Scotti Arts which has a unique range of artists and introduces the public to the artists’ wide ranging use of materials and methods. Their website has not been updated for a long time and does not hold much information but I am keen to have a look around. From there I will be travelling to The Netherlands. Gallerie Marzee, is just over the German border. Their three stories are full of contemporary jewellery, with artists I always have admired. Seeing the work in the flesh will be a real treat. Marzee has graduate exhibitions so look forward to talking to her about my work. Gallerie Ra is also a big one on the hit list.

From The Netherlands I will be travelling down to Germany for Talente. If time allows it I would like to visit Berlin. There is situated Gallerie Oona, and Schmuckfrage,

Then I will be heading down to Munich where the real fun begins. Talente is on from the 16th-22nd March, some information from the Creative New Zealand website may fill in some blanks for you, At the same time is Schmuck, which is essentially the grown-ups Talente. I am bouncing with excitement to see both the works on show at Talente and Schmuck. On the following website is an explanation of the scope of what goes on during the week of Handwerk and Design. I have also been asked to help out at Karl Fritsch, Robert Baines and Gerd Rothmanns exhibition at the Residenz in Munich. Following is a site that explains more about their work and working styles.

The excitement in Munich does not stop there. Among the many more places to see is Wittenbrink, They have an amazing store frontage which always seems to have dazzling exhibition installations. Cant wait to see one in real life instead of on the internet. Another place on the wish list is The Munich Academy of Art. Among my heroes that studied there are Karl Fritsch, and Lisa Walker,, the best husband and wife jewellery force there could be who we are now lucky enough to have living in NZ.

Another place I intend to visit is the Danner Rotunda collection of Jewellery arts in the Pinakotech der Moderne in Munich. On display there is the finest collection of contemporary jewellery the world has to offer, currently curated by Karl Fritsch. Most of my influences are on show there and to see the collection in reality would be a moving and life changing experience.

I think that’s more than enough info for one day. The sun is shining and its warm here so am off to soak it up before I head of to an early spring, chilly Europe.