I met Karl when he taught a lost wax casting class at Whitireia Polytechnic when i was a student there in my first year of the Degree course in 2003. He was a real character and super enthusiastic about casting and wanted us the students to experiment, go crazy and not confine ourselves to the limitations of the materials or processes.
I find Karl’s work fun and frivolous, unconventional and unexpected. He continues to push the boundaries of the ‘ring’ form with his use of materials and the way he assembles them . Although he trained in the more traditional silversmithing and goldsmithing areas he throws caution to the wind and allows for form over function and creativity over technique.
Although culturally we are far apart we share a commonality through jewellery and art. In his publication Metrosideros Robusta he describes his work,“…using conventional jewellery pieces as a grounding material in my work- like the epiphyte rata I added my attachment in gold or silver, nestling in or on a ring and also growing over entire pieces of jewellery”.
Karl has studied and used historic examples of jewellery to inform his work, looking back, understanding human attachment, obsessions and desires pertaining to jewellery. A shared understanding for us both as i look to history and tradition to inspire me and push my creativity. As Karl contains his making specifically to rings, i find myself drawn to Pounamu and jade as my main material source. There is much room for improvement, experimentation and development and I believe as a mentor Karl will be great in these areas.
I know that Karl has a rich jewellery foundation and being able to work with him and share ideas and knowledge will greatly inform my own work practice.
School Holidays a good time for Karl and I to finally meet, our exchanges generally being on emails with times and dates that never seem to get filled. But we met up at his studio and home in Island Bay on a gusty and sunny Wellington day.
So here we are both with our laptops discussing jewellery, family, laptops, photos and joking around. Sometimes very hard to do much when you are having fun and being silly. But that’s the great thing about Karl, he fits in well here in Kiwiland because he doesn’t take things too seriously!! There are piles of his work strewn across tables in various states, he shows me huge and heavy rings made of bronze cast from plastic animals, wearable? sure but only if you want some weight training for your finger! This is it, there is a lot of play and prolific making, ideas are pulled from everywhere and anyone. As we sit and i discuss some of my ideas, it sparks his own interest and relates his history and connections to me.
interruptions are many and his daughter Mia bored with what she was doing comes in on the action, he is solo Dad for the first part of the holidays as Lisa is in New York ‘representing’ as jeweller extraordinaire. The challenges of family and work! we all juggle our commitments most of the time we wonder how things actually get done?!
So, I digress.. my ‘themes’ and ideas are related to past work and research into the oil industry. It seems each year the relevance and regularity of this ‘theme’ affects our lives and continues to erk me more and more. Sometimes I think its time to move away from it, but it rears its head again and I feel compelled to say something, do something in my work! It feel especially angry when it is a ‘David and Goliath’ type scenario. This is in relation to whats happening up on the East Coast, with the local Iwi, Te Whanau-a-Apanui and Ngati Porou not part of the consultation process with the exploration for oil in the Raukumara Basin. Crown Minerals owned by the Government has given Petroblas(who has a terrible international record for environmental disasters) rights to explore for oil and gas in an unstable area and a food gathering area for locals. No consultation, no rights for Iwi and arrested and given trespass orders after protesting which is the rights of all people!
“Greens co-leader Metiria Turia is welcoming news Petrobras has ended its seismic survey in the Raukumara Basin.
A spokesperson for the Brazilian oil giant confirmed the company wound up activities on Friday after completing the full survey it intended.
Ms Turei says Te Whanau a Apanui, Ngati Porou and Greenpeace did a great job of letting the company know it was not welcome in East Coast waters.
“The idea of making this country a very unpalatable and hostile environment for these guys to operate is I think the right strategy. Protesting when they‘re here, causing this ruckus when they’re here for the public to see and hear makes it very difficult for the company to feel like they’ve got a social contract to mine,” she says.
Ms Turei says the fight now shifts to the Canterbury coast where US explorer Anadarko wants to drill in deep water.”
After that wee discussion and some about Kumara, which came to my mind as an object in this fiasco. I quoted a whakatauki or saying to Karl.
Kaore te kumara e korero mo tona reka! The kumara does not speak of how sweet it is!
He related to this saying to his home town where he grew up on a dairy farm, very interestingly something about cheese and milk?! sometimes hard to decipher German English..
I related the saying and also the words ‘Kumara’ and ‘Riwai’ as name calling for people who look one way on the outside and act differently on the inside. Maybe this is a very Kiwi thing that we do this, but he did understand the relevance. Therefore my analogy was related to Raukumara basin and to kumara as in the local Iwi and the Government and Petroblas the riwai or potatoes. The saying being that if you go around talking yourself up then you might get eaten…mmm interesting.
We discussed heaps in my visit which lasted much of the afternoon, it was great to see his home and workshop and whanau! Organised clutter with piles carefully pushed into there respective corners. All the tools and equipment necessary (mostly) to make what he wants. I was amazed at the studio him and his mate had built the workshop with no plans, but then big or small when you are good with your hands and willing to give it a go..anythings possible! Must be that Kiwi thing rubbing off on him!
So, from that we know Karl is a very busy man and even though we live half hour away from each other time is a shortage.. I will make and make and experiment with these ideas and see..
Friday 27 july 2011
Ahhhh the development of an idea….the seed, the roots, the vine, the leaves, the flower, the fruit….behold the mighty KUMARA
I am inspired by someone who doesn’t say very much, whose work speaks volumes and someone who gallovants around the world and spends little time on the computer. It would be great to be just like you! When I visited Karls studio those many moons ago, he had these huge bronze rings they were mammoth. One had some clumped bits of wax stuck to a plastic bull. Wearable? of course. The structure, randomness, solidness and the object itself were not hidden or abstract. They were what they were not holding some intrinsic value or meaning. They existed in the here and now, present and accountable, substantial and solid.
In my latest offering i have hollowed out some kumara and allowed them to dry and shape. The transition from plant, to fruit to art work, likened to the stiffening of the kumara over time. It has been an experiment to see how the kumara would turn out after I painted some of them and polyurethane the others. A most interesting exercise, it narls up like a piece of old bark, slowly shrinking and hardening!
Still the kumara as a metaphor? If not a symbol, it has potency in this country. Each one of us has surely tasted its sweetness. I have used it as an object in my work for all these reasons and more. Politics is at the top of my list whenever i think of making work. It is a big year in Aotearoa and the world, we are clearly effected as a global community. It is an interesting time with the Maori Party and the Mana Party, Don Brash and the Act Party. Are we reflecting the extremities of politics going on all over the world?. Left wing and right-wing extremists. Targets for public scrutiny, politicians and political parties.
And so the Kumara Party visited the Australians leaving a trail of mould and mildew, a bad smell and unpleasant taste in the mouth. Somewhat mimicking the biodegraded nature of New Zealand politics. Do not be fooled, most of the Kumara Party may have been discarded in Australia, but Socialism and cultural integrity will see them rise once again, this time on home soil.
Handshake project so far…
Jemposium/Handshake at Toi Poneke
“It has been an interesting journey so far……
Firstly, whenever anything involves more than one person it becomes a ‘relationship’ and everyone knows that relationships are the toughest ward to take on. Our ultimate goal would be to suck and drain the information and expertise out of our Mentor without too much fuss, but then that would be too easy. Therefore a slow process of emails, meetings, discussions and texts, phone calls, building and fostering relationships.
Karl Fritsch is an international superstar as far as contemporary jewellery is concerned, not so much here but in Europe. Having him as my mentor has been great. I got to know him before he became my mentor and developed a friendship. I have learnt about his art and his life, how he faces the challenges of being an artist and keeping the momentum going. How he creates, his processes and work ethics, ideas and solutions. It has been an effective and rewarding relationship. It is important as an emerging artist to have established artists to look up to and to communicate with.
The Handshake project has been a great opportunity and I have enjoyed the challenge so far. My work has continued to grow and develop and the mentoring has been inspiring and motivational. It has strengthened my resolve to create and make work that is relevant and representational of my beliefs and aspirations.”
Handshake at The National
Three pieces have been created for the National show. It has been a bit of a slow and exaggerated process. So much has gone on, that is in life and politics. My focus continues to be drawn to the drama of asset sales, the madness and mindless arrogance of John Key and his white collar government. I would love to move away from this kaupapa and focus on something else more positive and encouraging. However, my outrage and disgust overwhelm me and I am driven to respond. Albeit on a low level with my Jewellery work, but being involved in marches, social media and creating a dialogue of discontent. It is only through People power that we can stop this controlling government form taking, stealing and selling what is ours and our children’s. Stand up people! before it’s too late!
Toitu te Whenua
We are all the target, our land, our assets.
and when the diggers come and the land is cleared for progress.
and the sea is polluted and we no longer eat kaimoana, swim and play at our beaches
and the last ounces of fossil fuel are sucked from Paptuanuku
the foreigners will own our land, our assets, our whakapapa
all that remains are the remnants
“ka whawhai tonu matou mo ake tonu atu”
Anga-a-Digger(Digger shell) 2012, Kawakawa Pounamu, Muka, paint, Toroa bone.
Tarutawhiti (strangers, aliens, foreigners) Jade, Pounamu, muka, paint.
Utu (revenge, cost, reciprocity) Kawakawa Pounamu, paint, muka, jade, brass.
Pictured above are the three works that will be in the Handshake exhibition at the National in Christchurch- TOITU TE WHENUA!! I AUE HI!
Me and Karl at the first of his exhibition openings! Heaps of people, admirers, buyers, famous peeps..Gallery Biro Munchen!
Rongo ascends to the Whare of Whanui
Handshake at the Messe Hall, the International Handwerk Fair, Munich.
Rongo-maui ascends to the house of his brother, Whanui (star Vega) to ask for one of his children( kumara seedling) to take back to Mataroa. Whanui refuses so, Rongo turned as if to go away, but hid behind a whare, and then approached the family of kumara unknown to Whanui, and took some of the seed with him. This seed he hid in his body and then returned to Mataroa and slept with his wife Pani-tinikau, who became hapu (pregnant) and brought forth the kumara.
This is the story behind my work for the exhibition in Munich. A return to the origin of kumara, one story passed down. These connections are important to me and I reflect this in my mahi.
Munich was a great place to visit and exhibit. The culture and the language was intriguing and I love to be immersed in another language. I was constantly questioned about my work and what it was made of! With varying responses and acknowledgements of where Jade came from and surprises that Aotearoa had a Jade culture!! Of course there were always those that had visited NZ or really wanted to or had relatives here and they knew all about it! They were the ones that bought my work and felt a connection to it.
Along with my exhibition work that I took to Munich, I also took some pieces to sell, swap and trade. This worked out well and I sold a few pieces at the Handwerk Messe to keep me in beer and kai!
Table of goodies at Handwerk.
It was a full on time at Munich with heaps to see and do. Exhibition openings, famous peeps, amazing jewellery, food, beer and historical Munich to explore.
Door ways of delight and intrigue only in Europe!
Oh yes and Maori meets Bavaria, Ledehosen! Loved the traditional clothing of the Bavarians very cool!
and dinner with famous peeps at famous places! This is a Jewish restaurant in the heart of Munich where all the Schmuck jewellers go on the saturday of the exhibition, we went on friday..after a few exhibition openings. Jhana, Manon, Marianne Junger, Suska, Miss Gillian. Another interesting thing is that the Germans like to deal with hard currency, cash so not like us plastic toting number pushing kiwis, its great!
We would like to contact you about participating in a contemporary jewellery exhibition that we are planning for July in our Annex Gallery.
I would be great if you could respond to our email address – thankyou.
Loving the Kumara Neke! Look forward to seeing them in person
I love your honesty and pride, Karl surely is great, but you keep up your heart clean.The kumara is sweet and older than us, a super metaphor for life and death.
great to hear from you and see your provocative work. i love the politics and symbolism in the pieces. the chalice is my fave. we have sent this to our daughter in Wellington as we won’t be able to get up to see your work.Please send us any updates, every success with your beautiful pieces.
Loved seeing your work at the exhibitin opening at The National last night Neke. Beautifully designed and crafted! We would like to invite you to the the launch of Craft Aotearoa on 6th September. Let us know your email address and we can email you the details. Information is also on our blog. Looking forward to following your creative progress!