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Set and match: jewellers meet their idols

1 February 2012

Set and match: jewellers meet their idols

Imagine being taught by your hero – your idol and inspiration. Undoubtedly your skills and workmanship would improve.

This is the idea behind collaborative jewellery exhibition, Handshake, at Toi Pōneke Gallery from 9 - 18 February.

The project is the brainchild of Wellington-based contemporary jeweller Peter Deckers – a jewellery lecturer at Whitireia New Zealand.

Last year, Mr Deckers asked selected graduates to name the artists that most inspire them. He then asked these distinguished international jewellers if they would be interested in being the graduates’ mentors. Their response was an enthusiastic ‘yes’ and the twelve ‘apprentices’ were teamed up with their idols.

Mr Deckers says he wanted to create better opportunities for graduates

“The graduates involved in Handshake have made invaluable connections and exchanged ideas with some of the best jewellers in the world,” says Mr Deckers..

He says that with many of the mentors located throughout Europe and the United States, conversations have often taken place online – in a “virtual studio space”.

“The virtual window to the world is in our homes. Instead of an apprentice travelling to their mentors, the mentors can be reached by skype. This enables them to get instant feedback from the best.”

Whitireia graduate Jhana Millers is now working towards her Masters in Fine Arts at Massey University. She says she relished the opportunity to work with her idol, Suska Mackert, who is based in The Netherlands and Germany.

“I feel incredibly lucky to work with someone I have admired and been influenced by for so long. Through our online discussions I’ve become far more informed about artists and projects happening in Europe,” says Miss Millers.

She hopes to meet her mentor in person later this year.

Several other apprentices have been able to work side-by-side with their New Zealand-based mentors including Karl Fritsch and Lisa Walker – who live in Wellington.

Handshake – Prentice & Prodigy marks the first anniversary of the project, and follows successful shows in Auckland, Wellington and Sydney.
Participating graduate jewellers include: Debbie Adamson, Becky Bliss, Nadene Carr, Kristin D’Agostino, Gillian Deery, Sharon Fitness, Sam Kelly, Jhana Millers, Neke Moa, Lynsay Raine, Sarah Read and Jessica Winchcombe.

The exhibition is part of JEMposium: Jewellery or What – International Contemporary Jewellery Symposium in Wellington from Friday 10–Monday 13 February. For more information go to or


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