Creative conversations between Debbie Adamson and Hanna Hedman
Sometimes you have to trick yourself*
Not think too much. Collect from everywhere. Limit yourself. Be open to change. (May -June 2011)
Become an imposter. Question your motives. Push yourself further. Give and exchange. (July 2011 – April 2012)
Find comfort in the same. Form a new language. Make your own context. Be not afraid. (August 2012 – Jan 2013)
* Hanna Hedman at the beginning of the project, followed by extracts from conversation throughout.
- Debbie (June 2013)
Old trees to old architecture – from an island to a continent
In March the Handshake crew (including me) took a trip to the other side of the world and showed our work at Schmuck, the jewellery component of an international trade fair for the handcrafts in Munich. It was my first time abroad so I decided to make the most of it and see a bit more of Europe while I was over there. I traveled for 6 weeks, in a bitterly cold spring, and am still reeling from the amazing experiences I had, now months onward.
Unfortunately I don’t have many photographs (due to a technological glitch), so I find it hard to be precise about things. A lot of my memories have started to mingle, arranging themselves randomly under the general label of “Europe” in my head. But I do have my notebook with a few things I scribbled along the way, so with that as my guide here are some reflections on my impressions of the trip.
Munich - filed in my memory under ‘sunny bit at the beginning,’ between ‘Saukraut’ and ‘snow that made my hands shiver.’
The streets of Munich were the first place where my feet really touched European soil. I was lucky that it was beautiful spring weather, and sunshine cast long shadows across all the old architecture. I was quite struck by the colours that I didn’t expect to be there, such as the bright yellow defined by bold lines in black on the façade of a building.
People seemed friendly and jewellers were out in force, following the trail of exhibitions spread throughout the venues in the city. We stayed near the middle, so after the first few days I had the misguided feeling that I knew my way around. A few more days later and I realized it’s really much bigger than cities I have been to before.
The trade fair venue – Messe Halls - filed in my memory under ‘getting confused in the subway,’ between ‘following my map’ and ‘missing the bus to Prague’.
The venue for the tradeshow itself was further out, about 40 minutes from the heart of the city. Being the novice traveler that I am, I was glad to have the others with me to get there. I soon realized that a subway map is no real indication of distance or traveling time, just a template of stations.
When we finally arrived, I was surprised by what met us. The Messe is series of 4 massive halls, cavernous spaces. For the fair they were each divided up by a maze of temporary walls and platforms, with a really unusual mixture of showcases. There was everything from gold rings and art objects to prosthetic legs and kitchen appliances.
This made me think a lot about context. Trade fairs are about selling, and this sits well in line with the traditional values of jewellery in a craft context, but a lot of contemporary pieces move closer to the arts, and it felt like there was a bit of tension for some objects within this space. As Benjamin Lignal asked when we met – was all the work for sale? I know one of mine wasn’t.
The Handshake booth - filed in my memory under ‘labrinth of the B something hall,’ between ‘the river rafts you drink beer on’ and ‘retro duck tape’
Setting up for Handshake was an epic task and I take my hat off to Sharon and Peter who started a whole day earlier than the rest of us. In typical New Zealand sprit we created an installation using duc tape. The display was modeled on the layout of a subway map (using the tape to map the coloured strands of the tracks) and aimed to present the development aspect of Handshake as an ongoing project. Each person had their own ‘Platform’ displaying jewellery, surrounded by images to document their journey.
The overall effect was quite retro, and definitely eye catching. It was pretty obvious our showcase wasn’t simply another gallery. I did see a few rather baffled looking passer byers, but in general we got a really good response and those that came in were really interested in the project.
Schmuck - filed in my memory under ‘Jewellery exhibitions,’ between ‘Warwick Freeman highlight’ and ‘wandering the streets of Munich city’
I’ve never seen so much contemporary jewellery in my life and it taken me a while to process it. Out of all the shows we saw, it was the ones that I almost missed that ended up my favourite.
More things in my head…..
Otto Kunzli showcase
- filed in my memory under ‘things that made me think.’ And also ‘another gallery whose name I forget (starting with ‘p’)’, between ‘trying to understand German’ and ‘the book which was too big for my suitcase.’
He’s a bit of a rockstar really
Set in a temporary building (outside said gallery starting with ‘P’), the Otto Kunzli exhibition had more than a few people queing. At the pre-event, Jewellery fans swooned over his small red buttons and rushed to get a copy of his poster. As we made our way into the main show there was ooohing and uhhing, a little bit of jostling, and cabinets with faces pressed close.
His display cases were simple and clean, what lay within them spoke volumes. Through this vast collection of works, we saw the living legacy of a man who is considered one of the most provocative and influential jewelers of the post-War era.
- filed in my memory under ‘people that have influenced me.’ Also under ‘days at the Messe’, between ‘the marathon of set up’ and ‘observation overload.’
Warwick Freeman talk
- filed in my memory under ‘things that have moved me.’ Also under ‘New Zealand Jewellers at Schmuck,’ between ‘Karl Fritsch’ and ‘Lisa Walker (works)’
- Debbie (June 2013)
Going slow/slow going
I had an interesting chat with someone about the giant Redwood and Sequoia trees of California recently. If you haven’t seen or herd of them, these trees are very big and very old. Some have been around for nearly 2000 (human) years and, as you would expect at that ripe old age, have massive trunks and an equally impressive height.
To give an example (from the local neighborhood) once again in human terms, this one is just a baby. (But I’m not the expert here!)
- A redwood tree in a local park at Naseby. Photo credit Peter Monipenny
According to the person I was chatting to (who apparently saw a documentary on said trees), one of the reasons for their successful lifespan is due to slow growth. They establish their roots very gradually, steadily getting bigger at a sustainable pace.
Somehow the story of these giants made me feel better about taking it slow - I’m learning to be patient. I’m not sure if others would agree, but sometimes I think its hard to accept where your at when your head is already trying to be three steps down the track. Often I feel like I’m so busy doing acrobatics in my head that I’m exhausted before I even hit the bench!
Hanna and I have talked about this a while ago:
- “One thing I’ve found interesting lately is a shift in my mode of making….I have realised that if I intend to continue long term I don’t have to do everything right away. At the moment I have lots of ideas in my work to draw from and develop in many ways – so I’m taking a bit of a slower approach” - Debbie (Aug 2012)
- “Taking it slower might allow you to find a good way for yourself that is not rushed into. I am the opposite of that, but I always trying to slow myself down even though I love the process of making fast and obsessively.” – Hanna (Aug 2012)
After this email I started to think more about the way my brain ticks (which I think is slow and steady) and how that affects the way I make things.
- “After hearing about you reading that book about the colour pink I’ve been thinking lots about how I rarely use colour in my work. It’s something I would like to do more of, but I feel like I’m not brave enough to do it yet. Actually I think I’m not brave enough to do lots of things but I’m slowly getting there.
As I was driving the other day I was thinking and I realised I don’t really see images in my head. They come up when I am inspired, but usually it’s just words that go through. I think this is where my journal with drawings is so important – to capture that moment. I’ve been doing a bit more of that lately, but the forms are quite big, blurry and loose. I seem to skip the details and let them come from the process.” – Debbie (September 2012)
- Debbie (March 2013)
A sideline of note
As I look back through the emails I keep spotting new threads of information that I forgot about. It makes me realize how silent some currents of thought can be during everyday practice.
As some of you might already know, this year I have been working alongside Goldsmith Kobi Bosshard in the small Central Otago town of Middlemarch. This has given me the double advantage (and privilege) of having another mentor like figure, with hands on and workshop based experience, guiding my practice.
I haven’t discussed this much because it is outside of Handshake, but it has also had a powerful affect on my practice. Hanna and I have talked about it often so I thought I would fill you in, and then I can mention some of the challenges and insights that this has led to have come about.
The gears of Handshake are a powerful force, and they have propelled me into the workshop with frantic urgency many times as a deadline draws near. More often though they tick away in the background, silently working as the rest of life takes place. Working with Kobi has not been this case, it has affected the structure of my daily life.
When I first went to work with Kobi it was only meant to be for 3 weeks. Then I enjoyed it so much that 3 months came and went. Now I find it hard to believe a year has passed and we are coming to an end! This transition involved packing my bags, leaving Dunedin and stalling plans (indefinitely) to move to Wellington. Our initial temporary arrangement has slowly solidified and grown into something more (we have finally found a routine) but for the last 12 months I have effectively lived in 3 places, and it has at times felt like a precarious balance. I seesaw physically (between the places where I live, work and play), and also conceptually (as I shift between perceptions of myself, the directions I am pulled in, and the paths I choose to take).
When Hanna and I first started talking about it I mentioned how challenging I was finding it all. I’ve always felt a bit conflicted about where I see myself, and this experience has confronted me even more:
“At the moment it does pull my energy in slightly different directions. Kobi has very strong views and his ideology about jewellery seems a bit more traditional. He’s very involved in the arts, and so has an amazing and appreciative eye, but I guess he questions why a lot of contemporary jewellery over looks the integrity of jewellery for what it is (adornment). He constantly challenges me to forget about art/concept and just to make jewellery (rings, pendants, bracelets etc). His values and philosophies are very humble and down to earth and I enjoy this very much - yet somehow I feel more confident making work that tries to push boundaries than work that uses the traditional! I think this is because I actually don’t wear a lot of jewellery myself, usually just something like a small pair of earrings. But I’ve realized its a journey and all I can do it try – its been helping me develop in lots of ways so has been extremely rewarding. Although it does drain my energy a bit, I’m learning to be very focused on managing my time and allowing more space for projects. I have committed to much less so that I have enough time to develop.” – Debbie (October 2012)
I have since had a number of conversations with people about this feeling of a fragmented practice and had some good advice. It seems the trick is to treat it all the same. Your making is all one activity. Things might head in many directions and seem like a tangent but in the end, often with the things you least expect, it will go full circle. It all feeds the same thing.
- Debbie (Feb 2013)
Bits and pieces
A while ago Hanna told me about a bird that like to collect colourful bits of rubbish to build its nest. I finally found a picture of it.
A statement about.. This week I had to fill out a few applications about my work. Like many of us I do anything I can to avoid this but here is what I wrote:
Material is everything, anything, all things and one thing. Material is dumb stuff (reference to Warwick Freeman’s talk at Jemposium 2012), and lies to you everyday. It’s also highly complex, and can tell the truth in many ways. I am fascinated by this play, the exchange between truth and lies, like chipboard that’s exposed when you scratch the surface.
What makes us want to wear something or be drawn to it, is it the integrity that comes from being made? It could also be the story that we decide to fabricate. I guess this is something many of us unknowingly explore.
- Debbie Adamson (September 2012)
Setting in place – Handshake at The National, Chrstchurch
Handshake had its premier at The National in Christchurch last week. This is the closest it’s been to home for me from the far south, so I made the 5 hour drive to help set up. Nearly 2 years on from the quake, I was blown away by he amount of debris still littering the streets.
It actually looked quite beautiful – even though it was broken and hurt. I found it very interesting as a backdrop for our work.
I’ve been working alot on moving further away from metal. Lately i’ve been thinking about the feeling of the material, surface texture and weight, and how it can trick you or somehow feel real.
Hanna and I also talked about that crucial moment when you can go too far, and had this to say about my work:
“I like the way you are handling the rubber now. It has its own character. The way you carve and shape it into something unrecognizable. …… Maybe you can push the material even further. Sometimes a few hours where you let yourself to just experiment with the material again like you did in the beginning. Burn, shape, push, break…and then maybe something new will come out
I know what you mean with overworking the pieces. This is something that I struggle with as well. You have tried to find strategies. Sometimes overworked loses personality. I guess it is every artist struggle. When is something finished? How long should it be worked on? And so on…”
- Debbie (September 2012)
Less talk more walk…(is needed).
Lots of extra curricular activities have been going on about lately. As a consequence I’ve been a little quiet on the conversation front, and a little distracted from the work bench. Never the less, Hanna and I have made an effort to oogle some inspirations. I have posted some images below.
This week is the opening to our latest hanshake opening at Tha National in Christchurch – so be sure to keep posted for some images soon.
These beautiful instalations of grains of salt are by artist Motoi Yamamoto. The forms are incredible, and I’m fascinated by the way something ordinary, such as a gallery floor, can be trasformed into something so extrodinary.
These sculptures by Kate MccGwire are seductive and interesting. I found her work on this website and was intrigued by what she had to say:
“I gather, collate, re-use, layer, peel, burn, reveal, locate, question, duplicate, play and photograph.” — Kate MccGwire
Kate MccGwire’s practice probes the beauty inherent in duality, exploring the play of opposites — at an aesthetic, intellectual and visceral level — that characterises the way we conceive the world. She does this by appealing to our essential duality as human beings, to our senses and our reason, and by drawing on materials capable of embodying a dichotomous way of seeing, feeling and thinking. The finished work has a consistent ‘otherness’ to it that places it beyond our experience of the world, poised on a threshold between the parameters that define everyday reality. 1
Hanna responded to this image in an email as well:
“I know that work from Kate MccGwire frombefore and I am really inspired by it. I myself love repetition and how shecreated beauty from the undesirable and what we leave behind after killing.Good work that deals with the material left behind from the process of eating,brushing out hair, cutting our nails and so on intrigues me”
- Debbie ( 20th August 2012)
It’s nice to have a good old chat and dabble in philosophy
Hanna and I finally got the chance to have another skype meeting recently. So much to catch up on, so little time.
Reflecting on the journey so far led both of us to look at our own practice with some pretty interesting observations.
If you have been following, you might remember that I started this project experimenting with Hanna’s methodology for making. This involved making drawings, manipulating metal, and piecing together fragments to form resolved but unpredictable works. The approach resulted in a body of work notably similar to Hanna’s own. While this was an obvious outcome, it still left both of feeling a little uncomfortable, and this is something we have been discussing lately.
I suppose this conversation centers around ideas of originality, authenticity and the artists voice.
A little story that might be relevant goes like this:
When Hanna first started her studies the library had something like 30 books designated to contemporary jewellery. Probably the internet had only a handful of sites, and while the jewellery community was thriving well, social networking platforms like facebook were only a sparkle in Zuckerbergs eyes. Today however, our libraries contain hundreds of volumes, there are thousands of pages, and possibly there are even millions of profiles, each dedicated in some shape or form to the field of contemporary jewellery.
It’s a goldmine, at least that’s what it feels like, until you realize the fever that this can entail. I’ve seen and read more about jewellery online than I’ll ever experience in real life, hands down. Its just so darn seductive – that slick image, the cool idea, all those carrot box rings and that great artist on Klimt. I could spend hours, actually I probably do, and it’s so easy to be influenced by the solutions that others have already come up with.
So it was nice to have a conversation about some of these problems. In some ways I was relieved to hear that Hanna was not immune to the insecurities that something like this can bring about. On talking further I was really encouraged by what she had to say, and really value some of the advice she gave me.
When your looking at what other people make, sometimes you start making to fit in other peoples’ context. You have to make in your own context.
In other words you’ve got to be true to who you are. Look for inspiration in other places – places that mean something to you. Even if you can sometimes fake it, in the long term you it doesn’t really work if your lying to yourself.
Hearing these words made me realize that while I’m busy worrying about my voice, she remains constantly critical of her own. I think it’s all part of the process of developing as an artist and I’ve come out of this chat feeling much better – liberated in fact – because I know that every step of the project so far has helped me take a step further towards making my own context.
I also attended the Big Idea Survive and Thrive forum this week and it was great to hear some of these ideas reiterated here. Authenticity and the story told, about themselves and in their work, were trademark characteristics emphasized by almost every speaker.
As a humble maker I feel privileged to be part of the bigger picture. The overall tone highlighted by the Keynote speaker Marianne Doczi was moving into the future and fostering sustainability. After this experience I am a firm believer that the creative industry has a strong role to play in finding solutions, innovating and educating for the time to come.
It’s a nice thought to consider – I might not save the world, but if I can help inspire creativity that can, I think that’s pretty special.
- Debbie (July 2012)
I recieved some snail mail from Sweden mail last week, and aside from the goodies inside it got me thinking. What a rare pleasure it is to see something handwritten. In the day to day of emails and type front, I welcome the unruly scrall and scribble. A real person actually wrote this, dotted i’s and all. It records a moment lost in the homogenuity of sandscript. A hestiation, frustration, something considered and then cut out – time.
I keep feeling like we’re all running out of time. A daily battle of finding more, fitting in and figuring out what really matters. It’s a gift that has become precious. When someone gives you this gift, you marvell at the consideration and thoughfullness therein. It comes in many forms, and I think this is where craft has its part to play. We’re all makers in one way or another, and making takes time, what a beautiful thing it is to give.
Now for the good bit – present time! The following photos are of the packages Hanna and I sent to each other braistorming the idea of artificial nature. We’ve been discussing this as a theme which occurs in both of our work, and this is the first stage of something collaborative for part 2 of Handshake.
Contents of the box: Audio reading of Ralph Waldo Emmerson’s philosphy on Nature. Article extracts (relating to introduced species in New Zealand, as well as about the human as an animal). Patricial Picinini catalogue. Deconstructed fake house plants. One of my rubber bracelets.
Contents: Book ‘Ishmael’ by Daniel Quinn. A defitinition of anthropology as well as a reading about making from feminist point of view. Fake wood laminate. Confetti. Cast plastic glittery teeth. Cast seeds.
Watch this space.
- Debbie (23 June 2012)
The Exchange…..Waiting on a package from Sweden/New Zealand…
Meanwhile some inspiration for the week:
A collective brainstorm in museum made by gardeners/children/senior citizens/other people out of natural and non-natural materials.
“In the rain forest of the brain, the bio-diversity of thoughts proliferates and the intellect’s short-circuits whirr in your eyes. Needless to say, as time goes by the circuits get tired and nervous; there are burn-outs and failures. But chance creates the most sparkling ideas.”
- 24 May 2012
The common room.
Hanna_We both work with artificial nature in the way we try to portray nature and comment on humanconflict on nature. In your case for example in the use of man-made materialand with me questioning our false romantic relationship with nature. Maybe thisis something we can continue to discuss and work around?”
Debbie_”Our materials contrast (soft vs hard) as well as the imagery (plan vs animal) so am wondering if there is anything in that for us to play with. Since our work has so many similarities, it might be nice to see how they differ (as an experiment as well as inspiration). Could our works sit alongside one another? Would they enhance one another or distract?”
- formulating a plan for the next step……
We send each other a package of goodies for inspiration.
What the package should contain:Visual- photograph, drawing.Written text- Written by artist, taken from book…Physical thing- Material, object…
Deadline on first sketch after package has returned:Date still to be set? 3-4 months.
Deadline for exhibition: 1 year
Posting deadline 21 May!!!
Man / Nature Image sharing..
Debbie_I posted these images because I like the way that nature seems to overwhelm the vulnerability of the human body. Its as if they were heading in a direction and then just dropped dead. They’re quite romantic images because they are so beautiful. It makes me think again about depictions of nature and our relationship to it.
Right: Kate MacDowell sculpture
Below: Traer Scott Photography
Debbie_What a poetic glimpse at vistors to a natural history museum reflected in the glass. Few seem to really be looking at the exhibit, most just a sidways glance as they head about their way. The people are like ghosts in the staged landscapes of these extinct/endagered animals.
Hanna: Anna Schuleit installation.
Hanna_An installation of 28,000 Potted Flowers at the Massachusetts Mental Health Centre to mark its closing.
A sea of flowers and an explosion of colour and scent was accompanied by muted shuffling and muffled voices from a recording of the institutions last days. The work was made to commemorate the absence of flowers in a psychiatric hospital setting.
Another work pushing the borders of man vs nature even if thats not its intent.
- Debbie (31 March 2012)
Debbie: Collaboration Corroboration.
Some visual brainstorming on this topic as we launch into the next stage of the project.
Working with reconfiguration of materials. Starting off with the same raw materials and branching off. I guess the collaborative part for this would be largely at the beginning and end- with us filling in the gaps of the middle with our own making. Its always interesting to see how individuals interpret their materials differently – however we don’t want to end up too similar. There could be a looser way of working with this concept.
Below is a quirky image capturing the concept of collaboration. Connectedness and the creative spark – idea anyone?
Some collaborations are about the physical bodies or actions of two people making them possible or giving meaning. Jewellery perhaps has an invisible line between maker and wearer.
The exquisite corpse is another way of collaborating. Unknowingly collaborationg on elements that make up the whole.
Debbie – Interesting snippets I wrote down at Jemposium - Part 1
Materials are all the same – Fabrizio Tridenti
Material is dumb stuff – Warwick Freeman
“Stay hungry stay foolish” – title of Atilier Ted Noten talk
Life is too short to be boring – unknown
Our objects are just the proof or demonstration of the limits of our knowledge – I missed the reference but this was in Fabrizio’s talk.
The master of making makes little distinction……simply pursues excellence in everything….leaves others to guess when he’s working or playing. – mentioned by Karl Fritsch
Less is more or more less – I missed the reference but this was in Manon Van Kouswijk’s talk.
Art is always a witness, a relation to time – referenced in talk by Andrea Daly
Man made reflections
- Debbie (10th March 2012)
Hanna: Artificial Nature Inspiration
Debbie – Some responses to my work at Jemposium and the Masterclass.
I enjoy the sculptural qualities of the white one which has space and allows the shapes to breath.
I had to touch them, the material intrigued me
I like the wieght and thickness of them, particularly the black one
My words transcribed from an email to Hanna:
Everyone had a different favourite. But when I went to the masterclass on the last day they had a very similar response to you and engaged with the works which were pushing 3d use of the rubber. Karl Fristch described it as ‘making a dead material come alive’ and appearing familiar but with ‘something strange or not right (in a good way)’. He reminded me that each piece I’ve made has so much information the help make the next.
Manon van Kouswijk suggested that sometimes the metal in my necklaces is undermining the rubber. She thought it would be interesting for me to try making more of the 3d rubber pieces as objects for a while, and see where that takes me, before committing them to jewellery. I’m kind of interested in this idea, because I think it might be intersting to make a small series of some sort.
Fabrizio Tridenti was really good wiith technical things like looking at the weight of the thread or cord. He also told all of us to make sure we market ourselves properly. He suggested developing a small piece that is easily repeatable and can be sent to galleries as part of self promotion. We also talked to him about surviving as an artist, whether to have two sides to a practice (One art and one commercial) and how he managed. This is something I’m thinking on alot but have not made any decision on yet.
Marcel van Kan for Atelier Ted Noten had similar comments about self promotion and we talked about the importance of photography. When my work comes back from this show I want to arrange a photo shoot (with an actual photographer and models instead of just me!), but I’m still deciding how to best do this. I’m not sure exactly what I want it to come across like, but I really want to see the pieces on the body and in an interesting way. I think it might be nice to some how play with strangeness and familiar-but-not-natural feel of the pieces. I need to brainstorm this more.
Liesbeth den Besten came from a curatorial point of view. She was very interested in how the jewellery is operating and what it is saying today. When I mentioned you were my mentor she said that your work engages alot with the idea of contemporary ornament (because of all the detail) and asked if I am interested in that also. I guess I have never thought specifically in that way, but I was really interested when she suggested that alot of contemporary jewellers are ‘trying to make an ornament relevent to their times’ – by using materials that never even existed in the 19th c, and combining them in ways that weren’t possible. The question that follows is then – what does this say about our time? This is something I want to consider more, but I feel like I am really engaged with this work and I can see there is potential there.
- Debbie (ammended 12th March 2012)
Debbie – Jewellery hangover.
I’ve recently attended JEMposium, an international contemporary jewellery symposium held in Wellington for 3 days. It was a fantastic opportunity to hear from respected people within the field (makers and curates alike), put faces to the names of jewellers who’s work I’ve admired from afar, and meet many more.
There is so much I want to share as a result of this. I have so many questions and am working on a list. But right now, I’m in a bit of a haze. Some of the information was like liquid gold, but it feels like I’ve drunk too much. It’ll take me a few days (maybe a week?) to really process whats going on in my head.
Meanwhile we had our latest Handhake show at Toi Poneke. I worked really hard to produce as much as I could and thought I would show you some images of the results.
Handshake at Toi Poneke – My work
For the show I had these works suspended over axe handles which hung from the ceiling (hopefully I will have an installation image soon). The result was the people got to really get close and walk around them. Alot of people even touched them – I like that it broke those boundaries and gave a tactile experience.
Back to it!!
- Debbie (16th February 2012)
Debbie – Suitcases on stand by.
Happy New year to you too and all our followers!
I am moving! Or at least I will be, and already kinda have.
I’ve shifted from Dunedin with the big smoke of Wellington in my sights. But first I’m going home for a few months, to Central Otago, where I am lucky enough to have the chance to work alongside (and learn from ) Kobi Bossard in his Middlemarch studio. (You will get to hear more about this soon). Its a big change for me, and it’s more than a little scary/exciting.
So I have to say, its been an interesting time to make work. I’ve packed and unpacked, and will soon have to repack. The load gets lighter every time as another thing gets left behind. I guess I’m left wondering what I will eventually hold on to!
I keep forgetting how lucky I am as well. This project, and my mentor Hanna, have certainly been a driving force for me. Last year I worked alot, and had more redponsibility, so really struggled to make. As Hanna mentioned, its a challenge of balance that we all face, but I’m thankful that Handshake kept me checked in.
I think I’ll follow the lead with a few photos from my last month.
This is where the magic happens (next door is a workshop with oodles of tools, I sometimes sneak in there and find myself sidetracked).
Brooches I made for Peter Deckers Retrospect Exhibition. I started on these before the move. They were a good chance to warm up and test out my new space.
After these pieces I went back to the drawing board for more inspiration. Barefoot in my garden on a beautiful summers day with my sketchbook – it was glorious (I also got sunburnt)!
Some of it is rather bitsy. I’m sometimes like a dog with a bone. If I start something I soldier on, even if I realise I’ve made it harder on myself! These are the holes I made in the first week or so.
This is a sample image of my first necklace for Handshake at Toi Poneke. (Not technically finished but when have we ever let that get in the way!)
Off to the cave (uh I mean studio) I go.
- Debbie (20th January 2012)
Hanna- Happy New Year!
I hope this year will bring you lots of creative moments!
It is occasionally a struggle to manage everyday life and work. As a newly graduated artist I think this is something that becomes very different from live as a student. It takes time to find your own voice when it comes to style, approaches and concept, but it is also challenging to find your own way of managing working time after finishing your studies. Becoming a professional jewellery artist for me has includes becoming an economical advisor, teacher, speaker, writer, secretary, electrician, carpenter, PR-agent…and the list goes on. I know that this is something Debbie also has struggled with during this project, but I hope you will find your way in this as you go on with another year as a professional artist. I hope your move to a new town will give you new inspiration and energy.
Debbie started this year by copying my methodology for both for making process and use of material. I think it is now important for you to go on to find your own language as you have mentioned to find autonomy and confidence. I am certain that you will. The year with Debbie has been a good experience for me, but I must admit I have felt insecure in the role of a mentor, as this has been a new experience for me. It is difficult to verbalise what sometimes is only a gut feeling, but I hope to become better and be help in your development.
Getting in contact with New Zealand also bring back many memories for me, both sad and happy. NZ was my second country for many years. I miss this beautiful country very much and I hope that maybe our relationship will result in meeting each other for real in the future, hopefully in New Zealand.
I thought I would tell you about my own year with a photo a month. This is my 2011:
I started to renovate a new workshop space together with 3 other jewellery artist. The space is in a basement at Södermalm in Stockholm. We worked 12 h days for the first months. I am proud that we now have completed the space after 1 year of work. I have learned so much about building, plumbing, electricity, painting and putting down floors.
I was invited to the Handshake jewellery project and I had my first contact with apprentice Debbie. First through e-mail and later video talks over the Internet. I also had a exhibition in a town called Uppsala here in Sweden at a gallery called Kaleido.
March is “Schmuck week” which mean that many european jewellery makers are travelling to Munich, Germany for a weekend of exhibitions, lectures and meetings. I was in two exhibitions during this week. LOOK presented by Caroline Van Hoek(picture above) and FRAME presented by Platina.
I spent a lot of time in Antwerp, Belgium in April with the help of Silke & the gallery. I has in Antwerp to present two solo exhibitions, lecure and teach a workshop. This is what Silke Fleischer has written about the collaboration;
“Art jewellery can be seen as a crossover between visual arts and jewellery. By organizing “Jewellery Sessions”, we create an interactive information exchange, a dialogue, a conversation or a meeting between two or more artists. We start this concept with our first two artists in residence: Hanna Hedman & Sanna Lindberg, to give you an overview of their cooperation, works, and forms of presentation.”
I travelled to Holland in May to present my work in a exhibition together with Juliane Brandes, Ineke Heerkens and Jutta Kallfelzcortusy. Photo by Galerie Marzee.
A necklace from my series “Human Tree” photographed by Sanna Lindberg was on the poster for my exhibition “Tale” at the Legnica jewellery festival in Poland. I didnt get to travel there myself which was very sad.
The plants on our balcony was very happy in July.
The planning of the project “ALLA” was very intense during September. ALLA is a project which I manage and curate together with colleague Rut-Malin Barklund where 30 jewellery artists living in Sweden have created unique brooches as a reaction to the theme of xenophobia. You will hear more about the project in 2012.
Working working working working working working working working
I presented my new series of work “While they await exstinction” at Biró in Munich, Germany after months of working very hard to complete the new serie for the opening.
This years last month was mostly spent at my extra job and working with the ALLA project.
2012 here we come!
Debbie – 19 December 2011 – First entry!
Its 6 days out from Christmas and feels like mayhem. Family, friends, food, drink and stocking stuffers. Needless to say, time is disappearing and the mood is manic (and somewhat merry), so I’l keep this short. I’m moving to Wellington next year and right now am in the midst of packing up my studio. Its exciting but also left me rather nostalgic. I’ve been thinking alot about places and me in them.
Check out the image on this link.
I’ve also been rather inspired by the Host a brooch event that has happened in Christchurch recently.
Change is the only real constant in life I suppose. Its so scary and can be so great and exciting. I’m just looking forward to getting my head around it all!
Oh and happy holidays everyone!
= Debbie (19 December 2011)
Dear Debbie and the rest of you followers,
Thank you for inviting me to share thoughts, pictures and comments with you. I am not used to wordpress, so I have to start by trying to understand how this works. I am sure I will get into it. Wishes from a snowy and dark Stockholm, Sweden. To be continued…
Hanna – (18 December 2011)
If you have read my conversations with Hanna, you will know that I am moving! I’m at home for now (see my tempoaray studio space below) and will evetually head to Wellington in a few months time.
I have an excting few months ahead, as I will be working with Kobi Bosshard in his studio, learning a few more traditional methods, and putting together a collection as I go. He is very opininated and tends towards a traditional craft sensibility. His strong views on the overlap between jewellery and art will certainly conjur conversation, and I am looking forward to sharing some of his thoughts with you.
Anyway back to it.
Process and fun with photoshop.
- Debbie (21st January 2012)
Half empty or Half Full
I’m still pondering the words to say. To be honest this is probably the tenth time I’ve started this sentence. So instead of forcing something that isn’t ready to come, I’ve decided to just share some more pictures with you all.
These three works are part of an exhibition that Jessica Witchcombe has been organising.
- Debbie (8th December 2011)
Handshake at Masterworks Gallery
I am now getting really into the play side of things and letting go of the structure a bit. Picking up on shapes I’ve already drawn for this project and re-hashing or combining. It’s fun times! Excited to see some publicity of the Handshake show on facebook this week.
I still haven’t had much communication with Hanna the last few weeks but checked out her blog this morning and she’s been working hard! There are some great images of her latest show (I see my work is looking more and more similar so I want to try move it a bit further in the coming months), as well as process.
Images sourced from Hannas blog: http://www.hannahedman.com/#home
- Debbie (3rd December 2011)
And so it goes.
Its been a while since my last post so its time to dust the cobwebs off.
Everything and nothing has been happening lately. We have moved around the studio, and I’ve finally managed to build my own bench. The day job has been taking over (especially during the world cup!), and the end of year draws nearer. In Febuary I am moving to Wellington, and this has been consuming a lot of thoughts in my spare time.
My correspondence with Hanna has been a little quiet of late (my fault), and since the first part of this project has left me with so many shapes to play with, I have continued on.
For the New Zealand Jewellery show I left my showcase unchanged. But for the Masterworks show I have managed to make 4 new works. They are closely related to the rest of the work, and continue to play with the same shapes and forms. But I have tried to move into pieces the have less rigidity, and have two necklaces experimenting with linkages. Also, I have been considering the balance of simplification.
Stay tuned for more info. I will be posting some photos and a bit of an artist speel sometime soon.
- Debbie (24 November 2011)
So we grew together series
These pieces are a family of siblings. They come from both worlds -
Hanna’s and mine.
Discussion of works. I was aiming for 6-8 works but ended up with 10.
6 necklaces and 4 brooches.
This session started off a little shaky with technical difficulties meaning Hanna had been waiting half an hour before I could get connected!
In the end it was mostly like a show and tell session. I showed Hanna each piece and its partner – placed them on the body and talked about the process of making them and the impressions the shapes made.
Hanna liked my inclusion of the rubber and thought it was a really wise move on my part.
We discussed the differences between each set and the way the shapes changed on pieces that had a combination of black and white as opposed to all one colour. I found these pieces harder to make – more challenging compositionally.
Hanna thought that each set explored slightly different elements – and commented on how interestingly the two monochrome pieces dealt with the rubber almost as if it was stone in a setting – making nice jewellery references.
She thought the other brooches were more similar to her works – building layer upon layer of shapes.
Photography reference – black and white reversed silhouettes.
Our meeting ended up cut short because Hanna had to go to work! I told Hanna about the pieces I thought would be best and she decided that I should email her photos to make the final selection from.
“I have had another look at the work again tonight. I dont think there is anything to add to our last discussion about what pieces to send; you need at least six pieces in the exhibition. You have to explain that they are 3 families. I still think choosing the brooches, larger necklaces and two of the necklaces on string would be the best way to show diversity in shape, size and colour. I think it is nice that the two larger necklaces have both black and white in them.
For presentation its nice that they are different from eachother for giving them focus. I think presentation is somthing that you will have to think of, but that will become resolved as you set the show up. Should they hang? Should they lay on the table? Will they lay closely to eachother or not and so on. That is something that is best tried.” – July 16th 2011 via email.
-Debbie (25th July 2011)
Watch this space – oh and if you are Dunedin a little something
More on happenings between meetings.
After much palying around I have finally come to grips with the bones of each piece and constructed the metal frameworks. Sent them to the trusty powdercoaters and came back with beautiful results (not perfect but never the less I’m happy). Here they are pre rubber (I almost want to leave them as they are!)
I’ve got to a stage where I have been arranging pieces and have come to a loose group of 10 paired ‘sketches’ to work with. After having a quick chat with Hanna I’ve decided to work on pieces in pairs – giving them similar silouettes so they become realted like ‘siblings’.
Have been considering the method of joining between rubber and metal more and more. I want the connection to be built into the piece (ie so the rubber is actually integrated rather than just tacked on).
I started putting together the first necklaces (larger pieces) and have decided to try making rivet pins that wedge the rubber components between a front and a back piece. – I have already decided to spray enamel the metal and because of this I need to have all the technical connection details resolved before they go – a bit of a gamble since I haven’t done a lot of experimentation with this process!
After constructing the first piece with pins I have decided to go with it – the way they slot together leaves heaps of room to continue playing and re arranging the rubber right up to the last minute – I’m so indecisive so I love having options!
-Debbie (24 July 2011)
Since I last saw Hanna I’ve been a little crazy in the studio (I haven’t seen the light of day for a few weeks now). So there are lots of bits to show and talk about.
I have started cutting rubber – treating it the same way I have been with the metal by drawing shapes, cutting and putting aside. I have lots and they have become so exciting that I’m wondering why I dismissed it so quickly in the first place! Have finally got to the stage where I am ‘composing’ my fragments – much harder than it looks!
I have decided to aim for around 7 complete pieces for Hanna to curate from, and we decided straight away to schedule our next and final meeting to give a definitive deadline (15th July!). It looks like I will be making a combination of brooches and necklaces. I seem to always lean towards necklaces because they feel like they have a sort of sculptural freedom I really enjoy working with – it was nice to hear that Hanna is familiar with the feeling.
I sent her some ‘sketches’ of possible pieces and we talked about them. I’m not sure I will end up cutting these works in half and the addition of the rubber creates some technical issues. I have to figure out how to put them together, and because I am powder coating the metal these construction details have to be fully resolved beforehand. Gluing / sewing / riveting? Whatever I do, it has to be integral to the piece and not obvious or become a design feature in itself. Could thread become a feature?
Hanna thought they looked a bit like coral and commented that I seemed to be more at ease with the rubber as a material – this is because I’ve worked with it before. It’s intriguing how you can be constantly referring to knowledge from before and coming back to the same subjects.
On that note we had a brief discussion about how to continue the project past this exhibition for phase 2 of Handshake. I’m dead set on travelling and not sure how to juggle it all. Travelling will be great for collecting ideas, but how can I stop and collate them into works along the way? I have been wondering about networking with makers so I can arrange brief stints in workshops. Hanna said to make sure I have a journal and keep the discipline by creating a routine of drawing.
I have also just been to Queenstown for a couple of days where I met fellow Handshakeee Jessica. We had a chat about life and the project over a cup of coffee, and I got to ooh and ahh over some of her fantastic work.
Over all I’m feeling reinvigorated – I’m sticking to my timeline but the deadline is looming and its going to be super busy fitting this all in around the day job! It’s crunch time. My next entry will have complete pieces!
- Debbie (13th July 2011)
Some thoughts and ponders
Have had an idea about what I could do with some of the pieces. Am considering constructing pieces and then cutting them in half to form two pieces so that they are 2 halves of a whole – or as Hanna put it ‘from the same egg’. I like the idea but am also not sure I’ll be able to trick myself enough to actually do it!
My one liner:
‘Jewellery shaped by my identity as a twin, and the process of twinning.’
I also got a powder coat enamel test done. It’s the first time I’ve tried this but I think I like the finish. I’ve always done a lot of dipping work in paint and I like the way it softens off the edges, adds a thickness and strength to the pieces. Once again I seem to be scared to add colour – I really must push myself one of these days!
- Debbie (13th July 2011)
Have been keeping myself busy with top secretness for the last few weeks.
Notes from 4th meeting with Hanna via skype – June 18th
Everything is in pieces so not sure where it’ll end up!
Took an image for the publicity that kind of mimics Hanna’s main image. That was fun and interesting! I wasn’t totally happy with the result but Hanna suggested that perhaps I can now focus on where to develop the use of photography with my work as a means of communication. There are so many images out there so pictures do need to be engaging and clear.
I’m not really that happy with the result. It was a fairly rushed shoot and I ended up superimposing the pieces on top. I don’t like that this has a slightly removed feeling. Also, I am always hesitant to photograph unfinished work for advertising unless it is obviously a process shot – which this really isn’t. Still, its done now and gives me a start.
We talked about life and where I’m at now. Having just moved house and had lots of change I was feeling rather weary and unsure.
Reconsidering some of the shapes and ideas I have been working with – had a little show and tell of cut outs to date. Hanna reminded me that even if the shapes seem random and removed I can always bring them back in terms of the form I give them. Draw connections through form.
Maybe the reason I’m feeling unsure is that I still feel like an imposter working in a manner so similar to Hanna. How can I bring my own something back into the project?
- use of materials I am already familiar with
- textile for hanging
I’m worried about the connotations of such materials but maybe it’s more about the relationship of these materials to my own practise (rather than theme) that is more important here?
Also consider the pieces these forms end up becoming:
- necklaces can take control of your body
- brooches can sit on any part of the body and be symbolic in that way
Need to write a list of questions about my work for myself to answer so I can start formulating my artist statement and ‘one liner’ about the project.
Have still been considering lots of words lately – hmmm how to encapsulate it all!
Hanna sent me some more images to mull over.
- Debbie (12th July 2011)
Notes from 3rd meeting with Hanna via skype – June 8th
Two strains – the process of playing in another makers world. Using Hanna’s methodology and materials to the point of imitation to build on my own practice.
Reflection – drawing inspiration from the experience of being a twin.
Tie of identity / Sense of dependency and individuality / Parallel relationships.
I like the way that Hanna titles her work. It always seems so emotive and suggestive. Since my development has been so all over the show I’m a little unsure of where I’ll go with this. I want something that kind of captures the story behind it as well as the process that’s making these works.
Identical, Double, Copy, Mimick Simulate replicate
Imitation similarity Difference Impression
Duplicity Singleton Apart Attached Something kind of similar So we grew together
Doppleganger mirror counterpart Forge Trace
There are still so many more words in the cloud of my head right now. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by concept, but Hanna suggested I make a plan of attack for process and it seems to be getting things done.
1. Decide how many pieces to aim for. (At the moment I’m considering making pieces which actually work as two halves of a whole, so this could mean up to 10 pieces!)
2. Make drawings at the beginning of each day at the bench.
3. Collect and spend the first block of time (two weeks) purely cutting out these shapes (forming some if desired)
4. Get these pieces out and arrange to make the puzzles fit!
5. Finish and fasten together (it sounds so simple!)
(while I already had this process in play it helped to nail down specific deadlines)
Also discussed ideas on my publicity image. I had thought I might just go with a detail but then Hanna suggested a concept photo. (Might need to think about this one!).
We considered the way I am mimicking Hanna’s methodology and discussed an image that might bring both of us together somehow. I’m still mulling this one over so you will get more info next time!
- Debbie (5th July 2011)
Process and play – some visual stuff
“I will write it in questions that do need to be replied, rather considered:
Are you still interested in working with the theme twin or have you found new directions in your work? If you are interested in the twin aspect. Is it important that the viewer is reading this in the work, or is it only as inspiration to you? Do you want the viewer/wearer to understand how it feels to be a twin or put them into a certain mood?
Maybe it is now the biological pictures that are the theme? How far away from the theme will you allow yourself to go?
It is sometimes important to limit yourself, but at the same time being open and accepting changes during the way is also important.
Do you think that the use of other techniques and materials would push your work in your own direction? Maybe using “ all my” techniques, materials, repetition makes the work to similar? Is it possible that you only use the method or some of the aspects to create your work and not reproduce all the same steps?
When choosing a material what is important to you? Do you want to tell more about your story of being a twin? If so what materials do you associate with this?
For example; your own personal history of being a twin; materials that bound you and your sister together. Materials that reminds you of being a twin? What color?
Or the western societies general associations of being a twin(does that exist in materialization, colors?) Can you use these materials for your work to convey the story?
Or is the patterns, combinations and shapes more important when telling your story and not at all the material?
When thinking of being a twin do you come to think of a part of the body? Where on the body is the connection to your theme twin? A starting point could be this part on the body and outwards rather than from your bench and outwards and the on to the body. Can this be another starting point for you?
Making quick 1 min drawing with the body and placement in consideration could be a way of pushing yourself?
Do you fall into trying to make beautiful when making something to quickly? For me having the already cut pieces is a trick to try not to think and make beautiful, but I always struggle to fall back on esthetics. This is also prevented when you limit yourself and give yourself rules. I can only do it this or that way.
Can you push yourself further?
Keep a sketchbook at all times, so you can collect information everywhere!!”
Images courtesy of Hanna.
- Debbie (5 June 2011)
2nd meeting – email image brainstorm – late April
So I have started working. I am using Hanna’s methodology as a basis for this project and have had some interesting insights – I’m really still coming to terms with metal!
We decided that I would use my experience of being a twin as the theme for collecting material. So far I have managed to get caught up in looking at scientific books about genetics with all sorts of human biological pictures. I find them fascinating but am also concerned that I might be working a little too parallel to Hanna’s current body of work (which I have spent a bit of time looking at!). So hopefully it will develop onward – I’d like to introduce other materials when I can see a place for them.
Time for some pictures……I am currently awaiting Hanna’s response.
When I spoke to Hanna she said she likes to draw and have a stack of images on her desk ready to look work from. I really like this idea and have spent a bit of time in the library collecting images. This is just a sample and I’m due to do a few more. I might start moving away from biology and look at patterns and shapes that are repetitive. I’m also interested in looking at things that come in pairs. Objects that mimick one another etc….
Here are some working samples. As you can tell I still haven’t got into the rhythm of shaping them yet, but I am enjoying making small pieces that I’m not yet committed to. I like that each fragment might become something later on that will surprise me. At this stage I am mostly cutting out pieces and putting them aside, I will come back later and shape and see what combinations arise.
This is my first attempt at amalgamating a form. When I showed Hanna some of the previous images her response was…
“I see that you have already started to make jewellery out of the pieces. Maybe that is a to big step in the process? You have to trick yourself not to make the obvious and unexpected.”
I think she is right, I’m still a little too close to the forms I’m working with because they’re fresh in my head from when I cut them out. It makes me bias in the way I put them together.
However, I had already started the following two pieces, so I decided to see where they went.
I’m not so sure about the first, but like where the second one is headed. They’re both pendants so I need to try them out on the body a bit more. I think I’l see what kind of thread I can find that works. Also haven’t sold myself on colour yet – for some reason I can imagine accents of bright liquorish allsorts (stripes, spots etc) along with the white – not sure where this is going to end up?!
Now I’m just eagerly awaiting Hanna’s reply. Our next meeting will be a skype – this one was via email because of unforseen circumstance, but a good excuse to get some pictures up!
- Debbie (3rd May 2011)
1st meeting – 24th March
Key outcomes from this meeting:
I got an insight into Hanna’s practice and how she works. We discussed methodology – both for making and conception. I really enjoyed hearing about the way Hanna likes to make her work in pieces.
….”fragments related to jewellery but not yet jewellery”….
She plays with a form, cuts it out and shapes it in metal, before putting it aside in a box. Eventually the box is full so she opens it…… “Its like christmas”…… Then she begins to play, putting them together and adding bits like a puzzle. I think I might try this one!
Also discussed possibilities for the form of collaboration that this project might take. I’m keen to make new work, so it might also involve an exchange of ideas – potentially interested in using my identity as a twin for a starting point.
Time to start some ground work!
- Debbie (25th March 2011)
Why I chose Hanna?
I remember sitting in my studio one day at art school and organizing fragments that I had been experimenting with. As I arranged and rearranged, trying to come to some sort of order, my lecturer came in to the room and happened to observe this performance. With a grin, he made a casual remark that it reminded him of the scales from a fish he’d once seen. I was confused, but this was my introduction to Hanna Hedman.
It turns out the Swedish born jeweller had had a residency at the Otago Polytechnic some years before and, as part of one of her projects, she had spent hours cleaning and grouping small scales and bones from the body of a fish. This obsessive arrangment of shapes was something that had obviously stuck with my lecturer, and it also made an impression on me.
I chose Hanna because I am fascinated by her forms. Her pieces are like stories for my eyes. They are layered, sculptural, dynamic and tactile. The beauty of their details is often beguiled by what they represent (organs from a body for example), contrasting the ugly and the alluring. There seem to be no two pieces alike, and she manages to make large collections of work that are at once captivating and coherent.
Hanna uses simple devices to make complex structures, and her titles are elusive and evocative, yet somehow so telling.
If there is one thing I hope to get out of this collaboration, it is the chance to get an inkling of Hanna’s obvious determination and skills of arrangement!
- Debbie (7 March 2010)
—-My good intentions (for this project and this year)——————————————-
a) To make the most of this connection and collaboration with Hanna. Pick her brains to the best of my ability through open and casual communication, as well as through regular skype meetings.
b) To make, and lose some of my inhibitions with making. Consistently work on producing things, so that they can have time and space to be evaluated, and developed on.
c) Experiment. Consider new ways and methodologies. Try some of the ways that Hanna works, and use her guidance to step outside my comfort zone. Challenge myself.
d) Make improvements in my practice. Move to implement more systems and structure – produce work(s) and documentation to start approaching galleries or stockists with.
(Please note some points may be added or altered depending on the course of this project-it may have a mind of its own!).
- Debbie (19 March 2011)