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Ambitious Exhibition of Taonga Returns to the Dowse

Ambitious Exhibition of New Zealand Jewellery And Taonga Returns to the Dowse

The largest collection of contemporary New Zealand jewellery to ever be shown in Europe will be exhibited at the Dowse Art Museum from 21 June through to 28 September 2014.

‘Wunderrūma: New Zealand Jewellery’ includes the work of more than 75 contemporary New Zealand artists as well as taonga Māori, Pacific and historical jewellery from Te Papa Tongarewa. The exhibition was shown earlier this year at Galerie Handwerk in Munich, Germany to coincide with the international jewellery symposium Schmuck.

‘Wunderrūma’ is curated by Warwick Freeman and Karl Fritsch, two of New Zealand’s most prominent jewellers, and supported by New Zealand institutions The Dowse Art Museum and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa as well as government arts agency Creative New Zealand.

Courtney Johnston, Director of The Dowse Art Museum says that touring the exhibition to Germany was an ambitious undertaking for The Dowse but in keeping with the organisation’s ongoing commitment to the craft/object art dialogue in New Zealand and internationally. “The Dowse is known historically for supporting the development of contemporary jewellery in New Zealand. It was
an obvious decision for us to partner in such an important presentation of New Zealand jewellery at Schmuck, the world’s most prominent jewellery symposium.”

The title ‘Wunderrūma’ plays on the European tradition of the Wunderkammer (wonder room or cabinet of curiosities) and the te reo Māori transliteration of the word ‘room’. While contemporary jewellery is the centre of the exhibition, historical, Māori and Pacific collections, fine art and industrial sources which parallel and influence contemporary jewellery making are also included.

The exhibition encompasses the work of more than 70 jewellers ranging from early exponents such as Kobi Bosshard through to a new generation of jewellers including current student Fran Carter.

Works made from precious metals sit alongside less traditional works such as a necklace made out of cigarette butts by Frances Stachl. The inclusion of pieces by artists Colin McCahon, Len Lye, Michael Parekowhai and Rohan Wealleans as well as Māori taonga extends the discussion of adornment.

Co-curator Warwick Freeman explains, “Jewellery can be found in many different places and practices. ‘Wunderrūma’ is not a history of New Zealand jewellery, or pronouncement on contemporary making in this country. Instead, it reflects what two artists see from their viewpoints (local and international) when they look at adornment in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication with a new text by Fritsch and Freeman discussing the development of the exhibition and photographs of the works included. A curated assortment of existing and new pieces of text in the publication will give the reader a range of ways to explore the history of adornment in Aotearoa New Zealand.


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