‘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.


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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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