Munich Jewellery Week is a yearly event which hosts numerous pop-up contemporary jewellery exhibitions, talks and performances over the city from worldwide exhibitors and runs in parallel to the traditional Handwerk & Design Fair, and its prestigious exhibitions, Schmuck and Talente. Over Munich Jewellery Week (MJW) 2018, I viewed 25 shows and on average walked over 20,000 steps a day and enjoyed many a Kaffee und kuchen! There are too many exhibitions to sum up in one blog post, so I have focussed in on my key learning experiences.
I kicked the week off with Sentimental Journey featuring both Helen Britton and Felix Lindner. A huge part of attending MJW was geared towards understanding the context of my own work, reflecting on curation whilst also considering ways in which to mediate audience engagement. Part of Britton’s accompanying statement to the exhibition below, was a perfect introduction to MJW and this research.
‘We come from opposite sides of our planet with such different backgrounds; cultural, historical, political, geographical. These external forces make so much of what we are and how we see, but not everything. There are the personal choices; how to react, interpret and select what to show. This is simultaneously a result of context and of something else too: the unique stories we carry within us and the stories we see in materials.
How does context impact, how do we deal with it and how does this reveal itself in what we choose to bring across the bridge from the private space of the studio to the public space of the exhibition?
What do we reveal about history and about ourselves with this activity?
What do we transmit of our experience?
Trawling the ruins, the shards, the rubble of history, selecting materials and forms that release an emotional impulse we tell a story here with this work – not a story of excess, of bounty, but of poignant observation.’
The push and pull of blurred lines between the context of the artist’s studio and the exhibition space, how much to reveal? Will my work be understood? Do you leave a trail of breadcrumbs through the use of a title, or statement? Are all questions I have been asking myself. The location Bayerischer Kunstgewerbeverein was a beautifully large space, the curation utilised this arena perfectly and the sensitive execution of display materials and props, as I navigated my way around the exhibit, especially the mirrors, aided the atmosphere and really struck a chord with me. Britton’s work is actually very wearable, and I am aware it has a broad appeal expanding beyond contemporary jewellery insiders. But within this exhibition space, it came to life in whole different manner and became so much more than jewellery. I can only aspire to do the same.
My second highlight was Like a Rolling Stone, a collective exhibition of 7 British artists (Stephen Bottomley, Susan Cross, Jessamy Kelly, Rhona McCallum, Jo Pudelko, Jessica Turrell and Cristina Zani) and 3 Italian artists (Maria Rosa Franzin, Gigi Mariani and Gabi Viet) and the product of the collaboration between the Italian Cultural Institute (ICI), Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) and The University of Edinburgh focussing in on the relationship between gemmology and contemporary jewellery. Utilising geology geophysics and fieldwork in North Berwick, the project explored themes of relocation, transplantation, camouflage, identity and materiality. This exhibition and project was a real focal point for me during MJW, as I have become increasingly aware that beyond my MA I would be interested in the wider impact of my future work, how and why we share and develop research and information across sectors institutes and industries.
I hadn’t planned on viewing Hidden Curriculum, but as seems to happen at MJW, I stumbled upon it whilst looking for another exhibition and I am so glad I did. Hidden Curriculum formed as thirteen Greek contemporary jewellers set out to explore concerns such as gender roles, morals, social class, stereotypes, cultural expectations and personal language in opposition to that of the Mexican artist and educator Jorge Manilla. I learnt a lot from this exhibition. It sounds simple, but it was so lovely to be greeted with a genuine smile, welcomed and handed a perfectly produced pocket guide to their exhibition. Highly organised, slick but unpretentious alongside excellent customer service – A job well done and their efforts really made a difference to my experience as a viewer.
Delivered in a very different manner, but I had a similarly positive experience at the exhibition Exit, from the Dialogue Collective, a London-based group of artists with a background in jewellery and silversmithing and a shared connection to London Metropolitan University. Through collaborative making and discussion, there aim to develop ways of bringing contemporary jewellery and objects to a wider audience. Their high energy, fun, accessible interactive edge brought their exhibition to life. Drawing on recent experiences of Brexit, when you entered their pop-up embassy for their independent micronation Temporaria, you were invited to apply for a tourist visa, the artists took the time to talk you through the exhibits and on your exit, a brief test and the result of your visa application – I was delighted to be approved!
I have identified that I am clearly drawn to the exhibitions which had a strong identity or rigorous theme and or based on an ongoing project which led to a certain depth to the exhibition. This combined with materiality curiosity at Destruction for Reconstruction, was fascinating. Five broken objects take on a new sense before being passed on to the next artist for a new transformation. Participating artists included; Joyas Sensacionales, Alicia Giráldez, Carla Garcia, Carme Roher, Clara Niubó, Fátima Tocornal, Gemma Canal, Lourdes Carmelo, Lola Gratacós, Montse Basora, Nicole Deuster, Nuria Anguren, Sebastiá Macia, Xus Anglès with Ramon Puig Cuyás and Silvia Walz. Playful yet refined, and engaged me to reflect on my own material transformations – what could or would I do differently if a piece was passed on to me?
I finished my week off in Munich with a day exploring the Handwerk & Design Fair, and its prestigious exhibitions, Schmuck, Talente and Frame. Building on what I learnt from Collect 2018, this was valuable in exposing me to a world stage of galleries who support contemporary jewellery such as Platina, Galerie RA, Galerie Biro and Gallery Rosemarie Jäger. I was particularly taken with Galerie Spektrum, and the curation of the solo exhibition from Ramon Puig Cuyàs, titled Maps to get lost in the forest. After a week looking at some wonderful jewellery, it was stimulating to see the jewellery exhibited alongside original drawings and packaging.
Munich Jewellery Week was eye opening and provided a thoroughly enjoyable but steep learning curve. The largest theme I took away with me was probably on the implementation of curation, the use of installation and the quality and consistency of oral and written communications. And not to overlook basic customer service. Undoubtedly MJW facilitates unique access to networking on a world stage, but there didn’t appear to be a huge amount of contemporary jewellery outsiders, and the feel was much more of an industry conference. Finally, MJW really brought home that to fully utilise my MA as a future springboard, it will be really important to apply for graduate opportunities and competitions such as the BKV-Prize for young Arts & Crafts.