Neke and Karl

About Neke / About Karl

Kia ora!

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.

April 18-20

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…

“The Handshake project has been a continuation and progression of my general jewellery practice.  Working with Karl Fritsch and developing a relationship has been hard at times and rewarding at others.  Writing a blog and keeping up with everyone has been a learning curve, the amount of work needed for this project has amazed me.  It has been a real lesson for when I want to set up my own projects!
The next version of Handshake will definitely be a bit easier because of the expectations and realisation of the work needed to fulfill all the aspects of the project.  The ideas from the first exhibition body of work has developed and I will continue to work with Karl to experiment and express these ideas through jewellery.”
15 November 2011
Kia ora ano!!
It has been far too long  since our last outing at the New Zealand jewellery showcase.  It went down well with the punters and it was great to finally put some faces to the names of some of the other shakers!  As always the contemporary jewellers work stood out as unusual, weird, odd and is that really wearable?! I am happy with my progression even though I had to leave my people behind in Sydney as they became little furry monsters and were chucked out in the trash.  It was a sad moment but we moved on and let the Aussies have that one.  I am pretty sure they would never have made it past the border,  R.I.P.
 This  is the work  at the New Zealand jewellery show as part of the Handshake exhibition.  The ‘chalice’ at the top made out of jade, sterling silver and paint.  The move from the previous body of work to this has been a progression of ideas but still keeping to the kumara as the symbol and object.  The shape and form are recognisable as well as the material.  The kumara chalice has become a symbol and metaphor of “half empty or half full?”.  Why do we compromise our environment and our sovereignty ? No drilling and no selling of assets!  This is an important year for politics with the elections coming up and with what has happened with Rena and the probability of mining going ahead.  It is time to act…
The Kumara below is from the previous collection and forms the duo, this is made out of brass and coated with gold leaf.  The chain and muka cord pushes out of the top and reaches the ground, finding again its roots and grounding.  The circles are targets and important as symbols.
Together they form the work for the second and third outing of the Handstand exhibitions.
The next exhibition is Masterworks and I will be adding another piece to the this space
jan 2012
How time flies and it has almost been a year since this all began….
This is my latest piece shown in the Masterworks Handshake show in December 2011,  ‘Astro and Rena’.
Here we are at Pataka at the opening of the show ’25 years of Whitireia’.  Two goofballs, nothing like talking and sharing ideas over a few vinos and coolas art work!

Jemposium/Handshake at Toi Poneke

It has been some time since the last update and there has been plenty going on.  Jemposium was an awesome and overwhelming time, information and social overload.  It was an explosion of jewellers into Wellington and a fantastic array of exhibitions to visit.
Handshake made its 5th outing at Toi Poneke arts centre.  I managed to make a new piece for the final installment of my kumara collection, a fitting and poignant piece,  guardian and Atua (god) of the kumara crop.
 Much has been going on with the issues regarding mining in Aotearoa.  The government has its own agenda it seems for everything going on at the moment with the new budget, the proposed selling of crown assets, there is a sense of hopelessness and the only way forward is to protest and lobby! this government is out of control!
“Anger is brewing among conservationists and Maori across Northland over Government plans to open up the region for widespread mining applications next month, according to Te Wakameninga o nga hapu o Ngapuhi spokesman Bryce Smith.”
The general public I believe have little grasp of the situation, foreign ownership of our assets, land and profits heading
overseas, really New Zealand?
Karl is working on a new catalogue which will most likely be awesome and hopefully out soon.  He has been working a lot with Pounamu, jade and stone, which has been exciting for me.  As usual Karl is working with stone in unconventional and creative ways.  Raw and dynamic, solid shapes core drilled out to reveal a ring?.  He told me he can not help it now, everything becomes a ring in the end wearable or bearable or not.  The best thing about us both working stone is the exchange of ideas, methods, techniques, tools ect.  His freedom to experiment and engage a material has been inspiring. I think living in Aotearoa has influenced this choice of material.  We have a strong and dedicated stone culture.  He has also been interested in Maori culture and politics.   I believe foreigners who settle in New zealand are more open and understanding of the culture here, want to be a part of the movement, learn customs and language and value what Maori offer on a world stage.
So after a successful Schmuck 2012, Karl’s  profile as a leading international contemporary jeweller is stronger than ever. So leading up to 2013 when Handshake hits Schmuck with a bang we will have names like his to accompany our show.  It is a nervous time for all as we prepare our catalogue and working towards Schmuck.
Mauri mai! Mauri ora!
After much contemplation and working towards the CNZ application, skpe meetings, meetings, emails. And even a bit of work getting completed.  The next showing of Handshake is a week away at the National in Christchurch.  Here’s something I wrote about the project for the CNZ application:

“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

the memories

the struggle

the idea?

“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!

MUNICH 2013 


Me and Karl at the first of his exhibition openings! Heaps of people, admirers, buyers, famous peeps..Gallery Biro Munchen!

neke mahi at Munich

Rongo ascends to the Whare of Whanui

Handshake at the Messe Hall, the International Handwerk Fair, Munich.neke mahi munich 2

neke- Kumara neke- te whare o whanui c/u

Specimen ‘1’

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!

neke- table munich

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.neke-gold guilded door

Door ways of delight and intrigue only in Europe!

neke- ledehosen

Oh yes and Maori meets Bavaria, Ledehosen! Loved the traditional clothing of the Bavarians very cool!

neke-dinner with schmucks

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!

neke- karl biro
Karls work at Gallery Biro.
neke-peter bauhuis
Visit to Peter Bauhuis studio, small vessels cast into various metals inspirational!
neke Otto rings
Ode to Otto Kunzli.  Seems to be my theme- rings.  Otto’s exhibition was the main event of the schmuck week, a retrospective of his incredible jewellery career, we were lucky enough to meet him and spend some time! His fast friend and inspiration is Kiwi jeweller Warwick Freeman.  A collaboration that has lasted years and been an inspiration for many of his works!
Handshake at OBJECTSPACE
A collaboration between mentor and mentee….
How was this going to work and turn out!  We had a few things in mind and these were the ‘known’.  We needed to use a 1 metre x 1 metre ply board that was stained and the work was to be secured by sinkers.  The ply board will be suspended from the ceiling with wire and on the angle of choosing.
These were the only prerequisites and we needed to come up with plan.  Dates were thrown at us by Jaqui from Objectspace and we needed to get on with it! As usual we were busy and coming together to discuss things was very hard!  A few deadlines later we managed to meet up and formulate a plan!karl muka
So we needed some muka and decided to have a session at Karls house!! He did well and enjoyed the fibre and flax, learning quickly.  It was a test of patience and endurance, but we managed in the end.neke and karl muka
After much discussion we decided on the theme and idea of Sinkers! This had its origins with the Objectspace proposal.  We wanted muka to be the connection and we would make 5-10 pieces each and edit after that.  A few emails and texts later we managed to meet up with our finished pieces and some muka.  I made 5 pieces and Karl had about 12 and after some time of mixing up them up and editing we found that Karls metal pieces worked best with my Pounamu pieces.
nekes mahi
My finished pieces.
We had a few different ways of placing and hanging and having the work at different heights and levels and angles. This a real collaboration and I enjoyed the process, watching Karls enthusiasm and way he worked, tweaking and arranging the work, his mind tick tick ticking over, great stuff!
Soo.. after sort of having an idea of the lay out the last time I left Karls house I came back with my/our finished pieces.  Karl had this brave idea about hanging them all as a clump.  A bunch,  I thought it looked like a few people had gone fishing off the wharf and got the sinkers, hooks and lines tangled!  I guess then as it all came together the ideas and concepts flowed from the making and finished product.
P1030956 sunkers at objectspace
The setting up at Objectspace.  The 1mx1m ply boards we were dealing with.  In the end we used the board like a roof and had it suspended 3m above the floor with the muka hanging from the centre of the board and pieces attached in a clump 1.2 m above the floor. It looked great with everyone else’s pieces hanging in all different ways and colours.
sunkers 2
looking at Becky and Fabrizio’s work with the Sunker in the background with the ply board all most touching the roof!
sunker 3

5 Responses to Neke and Karl

  1. Linda says:

    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.

  2. Loving the Kumara Neke! Look forward to seeing them in person

  3. Elsa Krasniansky says:

    Dear Neke
    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.
    Much Love

  4. Sue Beesley says:

    dear neke,
    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.
    Arohaniu sue

  5. 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!

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