Pilgrimage to Jewellery Mecca
25 Feb 2016
It’s a long way from New Zealand to Munich. But it is a pilgrimage undertaken at this time each year by a select group of New Zealand jewellers and designers whose work has caught the eye of selectors for two of the most important international exhibitions focusing on these disciplines.
The exhibitions are Schmuck (the German word for jewellery) and Talente.
Schmuck in particular is an iconic event having been staged in Munich since the 1950s. It is regularly described as Jewellery Mecca or the Venice Biennale of Jewellery. The exhibition is part of the broader International Handwerksmesse (International Crafts Fair, 24 February – 1 March 2016) and is a key event that has spawned Schmuck Week, which pervades much of central Munich.
Jewellers, designers, gallerists, curators, collectors, educators, writers and critics flock to the Bavarian capital to immerse themselves not only in the exhibitions at the Handwerksmesse but also the myriad other exhibitions, events, dinners and networking opportunities during Schmuck Week. It is a place for the jewellery elite to demonstrate and witness new developments in their artform. And this is also why our New Zealand jewellers and designers trek to the other side of the world to take part. This year we’re proud that Victoria McIntosh (Dunedin) and Moniek Schrijer (Lower Hutt) have been selected.
Talente is another important feature of the Handwerksmesse and showcases the work of young, emerging designers across a range of disciplines. New Zealand has had a strong presence in the exhibition in recent years including a number of our young jewellers, textile artists, typographers, glass artists and even a wheelchair designer being selected. This year five kiwis have made the cut. They are Matt Galloway (Dunedin) and Kate Hursthouse (Auckland), typography; Bellalucy Irvine and Caroline Stephen (both Auckland), textiles; and, Sarah Kim (Auckland), jewellery.
All of the selected artists will be in Munich assistance from Creative New Zealand, accompanied by the wonderful Renee Bevan as their Talente mentor/coordinator and Schmuck liaison. Renee is a successful contemporary jeweller in her own right and knows a bit about the importance of the events in Munich having been selected for Talente in 2005 and then Schmuck in 2008 and having travelled to the events in her role for CNZ since 2013. This year I also will have the privilege of witnessing the events in Munich and supporting the New Zealand delegation in their endeavours for success on the international stage.
New Zealand's connection to Munich and Schmuck dates back to the 1980s. It was catalysed by a visit to New Zealand in 1982 by German jeweller Hermann Jünger as a guest of the QEII Arts Council and the Goethe Institute. He gave a workshop in Nelson attended by a group of New Zealand’s most innovative contemporary jewellers. Amongst them were Alan Preston and Warwick Freeman. In 1989 Alan and Warwick were the first New Zealanders to be selected for the Schmuck exhibition. Both artists continue to play an integral part in New Zealand’s ongoing success in Munich and have maintained their influence in that arena for more than quarter of a century.
In 2013 Warwick was honoured with a special showcase at Schmuck. He followed up the next year by co-curating with Karl Fritsch the landmark exhibition Wunderrūma, the largest ever international exhibition of New Zealand historic and contemporary jewellery, which was presented at Gallerie Handwerk during the Handwerksmesse. This year Alan will give the important Schmuck keynote lecture, in collaboration with Dr Areta Wilkinson, at the Pinakothek der Moderne.
There is another generation of New Zealand jewellers about to make a big impact in Munich. They are group of about 20 jewellers who have taken part, or are currently taking part, in Wellington jeweller Peter Deckers’ international HANDSHAKE mentoring programme. They are set to launch a major exhibition at Schmuck Week and it's bound to be another significant milestone for New Zealand’s legacy at Jewellery Mecca.
I’ll look forward to telling you more about it in the coming days.
Image caption: Hotel Blauer Bock will be home to the New Zealand artists selected for Schmuck and Talente while they're in Munich.