KARL Fritsch’s jewellery is unlike any other.
“Good,” says Fritsch, “I would have to stop making it if you said you’d seen it before.”
For the past few years, the German-born jeweller has made nothing but rings.
“I like the format. I can try it all on and see it right away. And it’s made with your hands and worn on your hands, it’s so close to how it’s produced. I like how it moves around a lot too, touching what you do.”
A collection of hundreds of pieces of Fritsch’s work is about to show at City Gallery. It seems a lot, but Fritsch admits he sometimes finds himself working on up to 50 rings at any one time.
“As I’m working on one ring I get other ideas, so I start another ring. I need to hold tight to all these ideas as they spark.”
Those who wonder how much fresh inspiration can possibly come from something so small need only look at Fritsch’s work.
“I think I could go on making solitaire diamond rings my whole life. I love to be surprised again by what a solitaire ring can be.”
Fritsch’s techniques come from traditional training at the Goldsmiths’ College in Pforzheim.
“I studied there for three years and then I worked in the industry a year. That was enough to make me realise that wasn’t the way I wanted to make jewellery.”
Six years at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich introduced Fritsch to new ways of thinking, and encouraged him to put this to practice.
“Within experimentation you create possibilities for new results, so I don’t stick to what the rule book says.”
This trend of unique twists on a classic foundation is mimicked in Fritsch’s use of materials. He kneads gold like plasticine, blend precious metals like silver with common ones like iron, and he’s even been known to put screws through diamonds.
“Sometimes ruining something can give you a new appreciation for what it is. It makes you aware of what the material is, and you look at it again.”
His ideas are obviously working for him; Fritsch was awarded the Herbert Hofman Prize from the International Craftsmen Trade Fair in Munich for jewellery artists whose works show novel ideas, high standards of craftsmanship and outstanding finish, and the most promising award for applied art from the City of Munich. His work is currently displayed in galleries and museums all around the world.
After a life of jet setting, award winning and bustling around big cities, Fritsch, his Kiwi partner and their children moved to Island Bay last December.
“It’s nice here. There’s always a park, the kids bike to school and I’ve got more time in the workshop. The climate here is good, if you’ve been through winters where I grew up you appreciate it. I’m still a bit nervous that winter’s still coming though, I don’t entirely trust it.”
Distrustful of Wellington weather? Looks like Fritsch will fit in just fine.
Leg of lamb, Fingers 2010
They’re bulbous, bleached out, pierced with screws. Curiously, the jeweller sees a kinship between his work and the growth of the Northern Rata, a New Zealand native that begins its life as an epiphyte.
The Url address below is a great piece of writing on Karl’s exhibition in the City gallery in Wellington and on his work in general by Vivien Atkinson well worth the read.