‘A Talk with Gésine Hackenberg’, Art Jeweller living in Amsterdam

May 19, 2013 | No Comments

“It all started with my love for spoons!” Gésine Hackenberg At the exhibition of ‘Unleashed’ I scribbled ‘Waanzinnig mooi!’, translated ‘Incredibly beautiful!’, next to her objects in my exhibition leaflet. A few weeks later I saw some of her pottery pieces on the internet and then I knew it was time for me to look if I could have  ‘A Talk with..’ Gésine Hackenberg. She also seemed to be a Rietveld Academy artist as well! Lucky me, Gésine (German born) lives in Amsterdam and invited me to come to her studio not so long ago, where I enjoyed a wonderful afternoon!“I’m interested in everyday life & my goal is to implement it into jewellery, mainly the kitchen-stuff. I love to eat!”
A collection filled with awesome pieces!  Gesine Hackenberg is so talented, in her conceptual point of view as well as in her technical skills. This results in beautiful and very wearable jewels, made of all kinds of materials using all kinds of techniques. Our conversation started with her ceramic jewellery collection which I truly adore! Not only because of the conceptual approximation, but also because of the technical difficulty to make such beautiful creations. Look at the pierced fish and it’s necklace in the photo above! Amazing! Soon the conversation was about….spoons! “Yes spoons, that’s where it all started! Without any awareness of a conceptual possibility for jewellery in the beginning. – “I Still sometimes, just have to hammer a spoon”-“It was during my Rietveld period that I became aware of the fact that a spoon has so much in common with jewellery. You will discover it as well, as soon as you realize the status and intimate use of a spoon during many centuries was that very similar to jewellery. Think of the very beautiful (& personal) travel cutlery of the 17th and 18th century. They are real show pieces, made of precious materials in beautiful designs.  In those days these where the objects to inherit. Spoons were often used in rituals and as memorial birth-pieces, medicine spoons, connected to life, the body, cultures and so on. The spoon really served the human body”.
There are even sayings in many languages about spoons. Like in German ”Het gezicht van de lepel afgeven’ …Gésine vertaling duits svp.., (vertaalt: “To send off the face of the spoon’), meaning: the person is nearly dying and thus soon the spoon will get/approach to another persoon/face). But also ‘ I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth’. -By the way in Dutch this saying is ‘born with a golden spoon in my mouth’.

It is unique to realize that during the centuries, spoons worldwide came with an immense diversity in sizes, forms (elegant or rough), function, material, tradition, cultural standard, religion and several more aspects where the spoon was integrally related and therefore especially designed.  In this context you’ve got to see Gésine’s approach towards ‘jewellery is very similar to the use of spoons in life. It’s so basic to daily life”.  Next to this also  the 18th century Dutch still-life paintings have been of great impact to her style of design.Later on she was attracted to all kinds of visions of using ‘daily kitchen things’ into jewellery. For example just by looking in to her kitchen cupboard,and observing the clothing systems of lids, ice cream spoons, the ‘ready to eat’ covered table setting, glasses, bottles, and jars, pottery and many things more.Gésine started as a goldsmith who also studied at the Design Academy Pforzheim, before she came to Amsterdam. Here she did her practical year at Rian de Jong Studio. The most purest thing Gésine can say about this period and her Rietveld-period is; ‘ That practical year was very renewing, but the first year at Rietveld academy was even more renewing. I was so confused I couldn’t go back anymore. I had to stay!’  It was a period whereas I had to let go of all my technical skills and learn to make a place for ideas and concepts. Asking myself the unusual questions, wandering a lot and becoming aware of what I would like to say with my jewels. It was a period of many try-outs and often feeling small and insecure.

Later on Gésine was also involved in the project Redlight Design. I highly can recommend you to take a look at drooglab.com and the ArtJewelry Forum where you can read and see much more of the work of Gésine. Besides creating her own jewellery collection and exhibitions Gésine is also teaching at the Academie voor Schone Kunsten,  Hasselt (Belgium) and Zadkine (Amsterdam), guiding students through their graduations (process).Exhibitions where you see pieces made by Gésine:
“Pièces de Milieu. Table still-lifes” are presented in the permanent collection of the Dutch Silver museum, Het Nederlands Zilver museum Schoonhoven.

Museum recommendations by Gésine:

The Danner-Rotunde Collection at Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, Germany.
‘Het Huis van Alijn’, ‘The House of Alijn’,  in Ghent, Belgium.

Book recommendations by Gésine:“Still Life and Trade in the Dutch Golden Age’, by Julie Berger Hochstrasser, ISBN 978-0-300-10038-9,  €40 hardcover.“Abecedarium, Jewel.Vessel.Implement.”, by Peter Bauhuis. Hardcover, ISBN 978-3-89790-361-6, both in English and German, $60. The absolute must have of Gésine! Especially because of his ideas and ‘The Gallium Treasure of Obertraun’. It’s true, it’s a unique collection…don’t forget to read Gallium on Atlantis and realize that ‘The Gallium Treasure of Obertraun’ has been in Munich’s Archäologische Staatsamlung in 2011. I love it!“Fragiles. Porcelain, Glass & Ceramics”, by Robert Klanten, Suen Ehmann and Sabrina Grill, ISBN 978-3-89955-208-9, $70.“Thing Tang Trash. Upcycling in Contemporary Ceramics, by Bergen National Academy of Arts 2011 (Norway), ISBN 978-82-9180845-1.

This article is published with the courtesy of Gésine Hackenberg, 2012.

Corpus Container + Christmas Jewellery Fair, Steinbeisser at Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy, Amsterdam

November 11, 2012 | No Comments

My first Christmas invitation arrived & you are invited as well! At Saturday 8 December & Sunday 9 December,  from 11:00 to 18:00, this live performance and Christmas Jewellery Fair by Steinbeisser will take place at The Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam again! The opening reception, 8th Dec,  will start at 16:00. taking place on the Ground Floor in Room nº 28* in *Steinbeisser at Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy – Oostelijke Handelskade 34, Amsterdam

Corpus Container is a project that investigates the human from different aspects: how we relate to the human body, the person, the self, the inner
and the outer. They are investigating the body as a container. Where does it start and where does it end? A live-performance and collaboration between contemporary jewellery groups A5 (Sweden) and OTSE! (Estonia).

The Christmas Jewellery Fair is a group show of various contemporary jewellery artists. This year with A5, Adam Grinovich, Andrea Wagner, Annika Pettersson, Claire Baloge, Claudio Bracco, Diana Tipoia, Gitte Nygaard, Hannah Joris, Jacomijn van der Donk, Johanna Dahm, Karin Roy Andersson, Kathleen Hennemann, Maki Okamoto, Monika Brugger, Rian de Jong, Roos van Soest, Sayaka Yamamoto, Volker Atrops, White Tent, Yusuke Kagari and more.
I expect it will be surprisingly fun, hope to see you there!

Sieraad! Art Fair, SAF, in Amsterdam

October 29, 2012 | No Comments

A little while ago I was on the internet (as usual) this time ‘discovering’ Audio-wear jewellery! By a total surprise less than one hour later I received from Sieraad! Art Fair (SAF) the press release entitled ‘Audio wear from Brooklyn….’. Yes! Believe it or not, it was exactly that and great! this Brooklyn designers duo “Elasticbrand”, by Arjen Noordeman & Christie Wright will show their collection at the Sieraad! Art Fair in Amsterdam (SAF), starting next Thursday 1st of November until the 4th of November this year at De Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam!

Having never heard of this phenomenon, ‘Audiowear jewellery’, and being truly astonished and totally overwhelmed by the beauty of the pieces they created, I also enjoyed the Audiowear Concert@Museum of Arts & Design, NYC. Inspired by hip-hop and other music styles. Please take a look at it and although the tones are not that clear to me the sound they created is stylish. I hope you will also like it as well. In my opinion it’s a “can’t miss!’

In addition there will be many other highlights. Not to mention the work of many designers showcased, created by than 160 artists, coming from twenty eight countries. Next to this the 5th edition of  ‘New Nomads’, New Traditional Jewellery, with more  than 300 participants coming from all over the world. Of which the jury has selected five winners! I look forward to see you there! …the place to be for the next coming days!

African Jewellery, photographed by Angela Fisher & Carol Beckwith

October 7, 2012 | No Comments

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
This week I was surfing on the internet and couldn’t take my eyes off the beautiful pictures made by Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith (African Ark, Africa Adorned), more over than thirty years ago. Photos that give an intimate look inside several African cultures and show all the aesthetic jewels in their natural surrounding. The pictures become even more interesting as soon as you realize that within the local communities everyone is able to ‘read’ the social information of a specific person in a split second by the jewels. For example which tribe, relationship status/availible for marriage? In some case even how much she is adored by men, the more necklaces the more popular…this girl is very popular!
Besides all of this I am also always so impressed by the beautiful colours of the glass beads, the extraordinary feeling for the forms of the jewels and the transition from jewellery to body wear, sometimes in combination with body art and the knowhow that it’s not only for beauty. Which results in a poetic relation towards the natural surrounding and age of the person on the photo.
The photos above are perhaps not all of Angela Fisher and/or Carol Beckweth. But I did found a site with many photos only made by them. Go here to have a look.

Book recommendations:‘Africa Adorned’, by Angela Fisher, hardcover, $210.‘Painted Bodies’, by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher, €100, ISBN 978-0847-834-051.

‘History of Beads” , by Lois Sherr Dubun, hardcover, ISBN 978-0-8109-5174-7, $75.

‘Costume Jewellery, Asian jewellery, Haute Joaillerie, Pearls and a 19th Century Collection”

September 12, 2012 | No Comments

‘Long time no see’ will be your thought! That’s right, this year I took a unique long Summer holiday! Enjoying the beach, prairie and spending family life at the country-side (‘Jardin de la terre …un petite coin perdu..’), visiting many beautiful exhibitions & reading the books that arrived on my desk. Lovely, lucky me!

As in the past and what now has become an annual tradition I visit the ‘Museé Christian Dior’ in Granville (France). The Christian Dior museum is located in his beautiful childhood home situated at a cliff top with an extraordinary garden (coloured and perfumed flowers) and sea view. This year the summer-exhibition was ‘Stars in Dior’, about Hollywood dresses. An eye-catching collection! Which we combined with a workshop about fragrances at the ‘reading room’ (the charming tea-house) in the garden.Meanwhile the book “Grossé + Bijoux Christian Dior by Henkel & Grosse” arrived on my desk! A beautiful book! A highly interesting text and beautiful photos about the Henkel & Grosse company and the cooperation with Christian Dior next to a good impression of the collections of the last century. Designs so known to each and every one of us (in the western world) ISBN 978-3-89790-335-7.
Personally I was totally amazed by ‘Grossé hair chain with metal applique’ made in 1907, at page 31. This piece of costume jewellery implicates to me  the fact that memento-mori and mourning jewellery wasn’t always correctly made by the hair of the deceased. Years ago someone made me aware of the fact that you almost never see mourning jewellery made of blond or red hair. Striking, because in England the Country where mourning jewellery was so common, is known  for  people with red hair. Funny, in my opinion, is that there has been a serious market (or at least a try-out for it) for fake mourning costume-jewellery.
At the online database of the V&A I did find a Christian Dior costume jewellery necklace by the British John Galliano, where you also find many other fashion designs by Christian Dior.

The other part of my holiday was filled with visiting Asian jewellery exhibitions and permanent collections
First I went to exhibition ‘Gold from Java’ at the Gemeente museum in The Hague, again. But this time guided by Madame Lunsingh Scheurleer, the guest-curator and writer of the accompanied book, herself! I enjoyed  a very inspiring time! A very nice exhibition with extraordinary examples! Accompanied by a catalogue ‘Gold from Java’ with extremely beautiful enlarged photos of the jewels of the show. ISBN 978-9040-003-608, written in both Dutch and English.

Soon thereafter I went to the museum Volkenkunde (Museum of Ethnology) in Leiden (The Netherlands) where you can find in the permanent collection, in the Indonesian room, golden jewellery from the Hindu-Buddhist period mainly collected due to the colonialist time of the Netherlands. Lucky me again, there was (and still is) also a small exhibition ‘The Hidden Garden, Jewellery from India’ going on, and will be on show until 6 January 2013. (Next to the impressive Terracotta Warriors from China exhibition…although no jewellery of course..it’s so beautiful and with such an impressive video…you’ve got to see it..I have to mention it).

Followed-up by a visit to the Tropenmuseum (Amsterdam) which has an impressive  collection of Asian jewellery permanent on show, divided over several rooms. Every Saturday & Sunday they have a workshop for children, aged 4 to 12 years, ‘Make your own cool beads’ from recycled paper. €8 each person including admission. Please take a look at their web-site for more information.Because of the book ‘Elemental Art of the Indonesian Archipelago’ (selections from the collection of Mingei International Museum, San Diego USA), ISBN 0-914155-19-9. I surfed to their web-site and found the astonishing on-line collection. Besides a beautiful permanent jewellery collection it seems to me they frequently have exhibitions with jewellery & gemstone in it.

Furthermore I enjoyed  the exhibition ‘Magie van de Vrouw’ at the Wereldmuseum (Rotterdam, Netherlands), which was held until 9th September…sorry too late. But I’m on time for the next coming ones..

Forthcoming Evensts & Exhibitions‘Parelen, in kunst, nature en dans’ (Pearls, in art, nature & dance’), Museum Lakenhal (Leiden, Netherlands), from 16 September onwards (opening the 15th..lucky me again!) until 13th January 2013.‘In the Nave’, Van Cleef & Arpels la haute couture de la joaillerie, Musee des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, from 20 September 2012 until 10th February 2013. All the daring of the creations of this legendary jewellery house will be highlighted in the Nave at Les Arts Décoratifs, with 400 pieces that have made the fame of Van Cleef & Arpels since 1906. The exhibition is accompanied by a beautiful edition, hardcover, English and French, 320 pages, ISBN so far unknown to me, €54.The Collection of Ilona van der Bilt-Ptasnik, Zilvermuseum (Schoonhoven, Netherlands), will become part of the permanent collection from 25 September 2012 onwards. Last year, the Dutch Silver Museum Schoonhoven received a generous donation from the estate of Ilona Ptasnik. A large collection of antique jewellery for the Silver Museum of an unknown woman. Through research, they know in meantime that she was born in Amsterdam in 1918 in a Jewish family from Poland. The threat of war in 1938, her parents decided to emigrate to America. Where Ilona married Adriaan van der Bilt with whom she returned to the Netherlands in 1946. Her jewellery collection shows a personal preference for stones, but otherwise the collection is a sample of goldsmithing, styles, techniques, fashion and cultural history.

“Angels’ Tears or Gems of the Ocean Pearls in the History of Jewellery”, Pforzheim Schmuck Museum, from 26 October 2012 until 27 January 2013. This exhibition will show the historical and current examples of the diversity and artistry the use of pearls in jewelry, with loans from Albion Art in Tokyo, Chaumet dits Meller and Mellerio in Paris, the Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, the Qatar Museum Authority in Doha or Tiffany’s in New York. Particular gems and tiaras from the 19th and 20th Century, from the state collections in Qatar, which heads the Princesses of Württemberg
Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen the daughter of Sissi tiara. (see photo above)
The exhibition has many lectures, concert and other activities to enjoy, please take a look at their web-site.

The Zelnik Collection, at The Istvan Zelnik Southcast Asian Gold Museum, Budapest, Hungary. Looks impressive to me reading this article at ‘Asian Art’.

And last but not least; Carien, I would like to thank you very much for your input and effort for this article! Please keep up-dating me with interesting exhibitions and what-so-ever. Great to have met you through my blog & I hope to meet you in the nearby future.


Margriet Sopers

Margriet Sopers, FGA

Having a diploma in jewellery, FGA and a propaedeutic of the Academy of Art followed-up by interesting years as a jewellery expert at Sotheby's & Gemeentelijke Krediet Bank, as well as being a member for years of the Society of Jewellery Historians, I am glad to share with you today's world of jewellery.

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