Last weekend I went to Munich for Schmuck 2014. Schmuck is an annual art jewellery exhibition and consists of Schmuck and Talente at Internationale Handwerksmesse and then numerous exhibitions around the city. It is a jewellery mecca especially for art and contemporary jewellers and I hadn’t been before. We went for three days and saw so much! For example, on day 1 we went to 15 different shows. I would like to say massive thanks to Mariko Sumioka for being an amazing guide and also to Trudy and Ina for lovely company. We saw work by newcomers, very well-known jewellers and work from many different countries – as well as taking time for bier and ice-cream.
It was a thought provoking experience and I am left thinking a lot about concept, materials and commerciality. I saw jewellery made from seahorses, cow intestines and flies, alongside wood, metal, ceramics, plastics, paper, found objects and much more.
It was wonderful to see so many of the people visiting Schmuck wearing such bold jewellery – I have never seen so many men wearing jewellery (large necklaces and brooches in particular) and that was brilliant.
Seeing all the different displays was very interesting. There were strong ones and weaker ones. The Dialogue Collective exhibition at Galerie Hell had most of their jewellery on canteen style trays in the corner. Visitors could sit at a table in the middle of the gallery and ring a bell, at which point a member of the collective would bring over the tray and tell you all about the work on that tray. When you had seen enough, you’d ring the bell and a different tray would be presented. This was a wonderfully interactive exhibition which gave so much information and more value to the work presented. Most of the exhibitions at Schmuck were passive viewing experiences and if the work on display is conceptual, without an explanation, how will the audience understand the work – surely it will be judged only on appearance?
Different displays (click on the images to see them more clearly):
It was really interesting and encouraging talking to other jewellers, I learnt a lot from this. For example, having a conversation with a jeweller whose work I really admire and discovering that a prominent gallery does not like it took me by surprise – it reminded me that just as art, clothes and taste are subjective, so is jewellery. Not everyone is going to like your work regardless of the skill, concept and/or composition. And then there are judgements between art jewellery, contemporary jewellery, fine jewellery, production jewellery and fashion jewellery. We were concentrating on the Schmuck events and in doing this we walked past many a fine jewellery shop or display in quite a dismissive manner. And I guess they may well do the same with some of the work we were looking at.
It has made me consider where I fit in and I have decided that it doesn’t matter. It is hard to fit into one category and my work has characteristics of two or three. I really enjoy making one-off pieces because I have so many ideas that I want each piece I make to be a development of the one before. However, I also make a small number of production items. I apply for exhibitions and shows that interest me and make work that I really enjoy making. For me at the end of the day it all comes down to making, my sense of enjoyment and achievement in this.
Our trip to Schmuck was brilliant, inspiring and thought-provoking, I look forward to going again.
(You can see more images and information in this article from Wallpaper magazine)