Handshake is a mentoring project unique to the contemporary art world. It is a space where established artists hand-over some of their quality knowledge to those asking for a ‘hand’ and is a two-way project that encourages symbiosis and a ‘give and take’. The accumulative’knowledge‘ gained from the feedback relationship is transformed for various quality exhibitions and collaboration projects.
The project began in February 2011, is the brainchild of Wellington-based artist, curator and tutor Peter Deckers. The idea was born out of recognition of the need for ongoing support for talented New Zealand graduates after completing their jewellery/art study. Handshake reverses the old ‘apprentice’ model, whereby a mentee works for a mentor – here the mentor works more for the mentee through their feedback and support in the development of ideas and exhibition work.
The first iteration of the project, Handshake1, began when twelve jewellery graduates from New Zealand were given the opportunity to make work alongside their jewellery heroes from around the globe, without having to leave their own workshops. Peter approached these distinguished, internationally established artist and icons, offering them the opportunity to act as mentors in a collaborative two-year project. The result? A lively blog, touring exhibitions, an exceptional learning experience as well as a series of catalogues and a book.
Handshake2 took the project even further with an open call, a fresh development programme which included a JEWELcamp, a masterclass with Benjamin Lignel and an exhibition programme that enabled more relationships to form, practices to develop and ideas to refine as testing grounds for feedback and further development. The third iteration of HandShake was established from former members of Handshake1 and Handshake2 projects with exciting new challenges that includes development programmes, collaboration projects and a series of national and international exhibitions in established premises.
Handshake takes advantage of new technologies: Skype, Blogs, FaceTime that enable the mentees to develop and refine their practice alongside their mentors in a virtual studio space. A significant part of the project is that the mentee records their process via the Handshake blogs for others to view and learn from. Through their individual blog pages, the mentees present the fabric of their ideas, demonstrate the processes of their research, design and making, self-reflections, their search for deep philosophical connections, explored possibilities, and edits of the solutions. It also includes why mentees choose their mentor, summaries the advice and feedback, shows extracts from mentor publications, press reviews and interviews, all making for a rich reading.
Click here for more: Handshake Project history
HANDSHAKE 3 (HS3) 2016 – 2018
MORE background about the HS project in this AJF interview with founder Peter Deckers: https://artjewelryforum.org/peter-deckers
The HANDSHAKE projects have been made possible with the generous support from Creative New Zealand, Whitireia NZ, Makers 101 and JEMbooks.
Sofia Björkman was supported by IASPIS.