On collaboration: background

For the July exhibition at Auckland’s Objectspace gallery I am lucky enough to be collaborating with Liesbeth den Besten.



Liesbeth is an independent art historian who works internationally as a writer, curator, advisor, jury member, exhibition maker, teacher and lecturer in the field of crafts and design, especially contemporary jewellery. She is chair of the Françoise van den Bosch Foundation and member of the AJF board.

Here’s Liesbeth with Ruudt Peters (Amelia Pascoe’s partner in crime), preparing to install his work in her current exhibition, ARCHIVE OF OBJECTS OF VERTU, at Phoebus Gallery in Rotterdam.


Our association goes back some years and we appreciate and enjoy each other’s work. I attended Liesbeth’s address and masterclass at Jemposium in Wellington in 2012, and went on to read her publications and AJF articles. In 2013, Liesbeth saw my Home from Home project at the Handshake show in Munich, and invited me to be her artist in residence for 3 days.


She subsequently included a commentary on my practice in her speech “ The golden standard of ‘Schmuckashau’”(read it here: zimmerhof-lecture, I am on p 6 and 7), delivered at the Zimmerhof symposium in June 2013. The speech closed with a manifest for contemporary jewellery (see below) which continues to chime with me.


We began our correspondence by sharing our current obsessions.  Liesbeth’s:

2015-09. PHE-case-5_2 liesbeth


current obsession view 2 ls

A promising start! The writer has a case of objects in her living room; the maker has a case of books…

Over the weeks our correspondence has included descriptions of exhibitions, jewellery-related experiences, family history, personal revelations, reflection. As to be expected, Liesbeth writes quickly and with obvious enjoyment; I am slower and less fluent, but send something every few days, even if it is just a video/image for her to enjoy over coffee.

What are we going to show?

As for what we will be exhibiting, we are still working it out. Here is Liesbeth’s manifesto, which gives us a framework of sorts:

  • A forget about sceneries and props,
  • B forget about objecthood and focus on jewelleryness,
  • C forget the aficionados and target on the uninitiated,
  • D focus on the reasoning, on the ‘why and how’ of jewellery, on the ‘what if’ of jewellery, on the ‘where’ of jewellery, on people and jewellery, on jewellery and place,
  • E focus on questioning instead of answers,
  • F focus on experiment instead of nice results,
  • G focus on process and projects,
  • H focus on inclusion of other media and strategies,
  • I focus on sharing and collaborating,
  • J don’t be afraid to forget about unique one-offs for the gallery every now and then,
  • K take care of finding your own vernacular, use slang when necessary,
  • L forget about Schmuckashau

And here is the (deliberately open-ended) description from our original proposal:

  • The starting point will be ideas-based, and we will together refine the conceptual content of the project
  • The work will develop through enquiry, experimentation and accident; space will be made for the unexpected; uncertainty and changes in direction will be navigated to let the work come into focus over time
  • For the gallery there will be jewellery /objects relating to the body
  • There may be an element of participation or performance, or work using other media
  • There may be other manifestation/s of the project elsewhere



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