BAJ’s Sofie Boons gets inspired at Munich Jewellery Week

Munich Jewellery Week is one of the world’s most important events for the contemporary jewellery industry. BAJ’s Sofie Boons attended the 2023 event this March to see what’s next for jewellery and get inspired. Here is her diary of a jewellery-packed week in Germany.

Reflections by Sofie Boons

Munich Jewellery Week Day 1

Even though it was strange to leave the UK behind on what appeared to be a rare beautiful snowy day, I am excited to have made my way to Munich for the annual Munich Jewellery Week. Ever since the early 2000s many jewellery artists, designers and makers have been overcoming any adverse weather conditions March is known for, to attend the famous Schmuck exhibition at the International Crafts Fair, with this year’s edition curated by Caroline Broadhead – something I spoke to her about in the latest edition of the BAJ podcast

In response to this event, galleries, collectives and a range of jewellery artists have been developing a tradition of organising a range of fringe events and independent exhibitions. Dotted around the city in old bookshops, empty metro stations and other exciting small venues, the growing number of events (now more than 50) are documented in a little booklet that will be my guide for the next four days.

Munich Jewellery Week Day 2

As I look across the packed first floor of Gallery Handwerk, where the exited humdrum of the voices of jewellery artists, collectors, gallerists, and enthusiasts are providing the soundscape backdrop of my exploration of the last showcase curated by Wolfgang Loesche and Dr Angela Böck, I cherish the dedication of the community to its medium. The gallery is exhibiting the work of a range of acclaimed makers. It fits nicely in the carefully curated selection of fringe events that I explored today. A schedule for which I want to thank Julia Wild, who I’ve had the pleasure of joining for the exploration.

It would be impossible to mention all the openings and events visited today, much of this will be food for thought for months to come. I can, however, already say that it was brilliant to see both a selection of new and older work from established makers in relation to that of upcoming voices. It was also wonderful to explore all the various approaches to displaying jewellery and its stories, a definite highlight was to see the selection by Christian Hoedl, carefully juxtaposing work by for example Alexander Blank and Patricia Dominguez in a small and delicate antique furniture store. The presence of other disciplines, through for example including a photographer in a showcase, was also something I greatly enjoyed in a selection of the events. With many showcases capturing the magical and delightful properties of jewellery, my sense of wonder for the medium and its questioning in physical and contextual spaces is what draws me to Munich Jewellery Week.

Munich Jewellery Week Day 3

My third day in the centre of Munich, sees a continuation of visits to the fringe events. It starts off with a bang, by a small discussion, organised by Julia Wild, of Ruudt Peters, who tells us all about his experiences through lockdown and how his collaborations with architects have inspired his newer work and their display in the show titled ‘CASA’ at Spektrum Gallery. 

Another highlight of the day was my visit to the show ‘Whack the demon of ignorance with the stone of madness’ at gallery Raumwerk, where David Bielander was moving around his exquisitely crafted large steel snake. The reinterpretation of the animal through Bielanders eyes, is extremely light and can move due to its expertly designed elements. This alongside his famous rubber lips, leather croissant and steel shrimps, was absolutely worth a visit.

I finally also make my way to the Munich Jewellery Week hub, where I meet up with the team behind Current Obsession for a podcast interview. I end my third day with as much of a bang as it started, as I make my way down to the Neues Rottmann Kino, a local cinema, to watch the film ‘Hunter from Elsewhere’, a documentary on the jewellery artist Helen Britton.

Munich Jewellery Week Day 4 11 March 2023

At the last day of my trip to Munich for the annual Jewellery Week, I am excited to travel to the Handwerk Messe and make my way through the various craft skills represented by a range of stands to the contemporary jewellery section in the hall. At the fair you can find the big names in the gallery world, with a large stand again this year dedicated to Gallery Marzee from the Netherlands. Showcasing pieces by a selection of the most renowned jewellery artists in the field, rummaging through some of the drawers she brings annually is an absolute delight. 

Making my way to the centre, my exploration of the Schmuck 23 selection by Caroline Broadhead absolutely meets my high expectations following our podcast conversation. The selection of 63 artists and their pieces is carefully laid out in its traditional format, with the central topic for me clearly around the strong ideas jewellers aim to portray through the medium. The sheer range of techniques, materials and subjects represented in the selection, demonstrates the broad spectrum of approaches to the medium and how jewellery and objects can engage in discussions and topics that are very much of this time. 

Annually at the show, the Herbert Hofmann Prize 2023 is awarded as part of the Schmuck show. The prize, which is considered the “Oscar of jewellery awards”, is always presented at an award ceremony on the Saturday of Munich Jewellery Week, and is again a great opportunity for the community to gather and celebrate strong artists and their work. One of the Herbert Hofmann Prizes 2023 went to Tamara Marbl Joka and her brooch “Mirror of the Past”. The brooch is made of concrete, silver and steel.

Once I have also browsed through the Talente 2023 selection and had a look at all the work from various jewellery departments, I make my way back to the centre of Munich, to attend the opening ceremony of the Theresa Hilbert exhibit at the Pinakothek der Moderne.The award winning Swiss jewellery artist, who was born in Zurich in 1948, has been living and working in Munich following her jewellery studies. It is the artist’s first monographic exhibition, for which Hilbert selected around 250 pieces spanning her entire career. Discussions around the high quality of craftsmanship in her work, and the importance of craftsmanship in today’s culture are a perfect end to my visit to Munich Jewellery Week.

Interested in immersing yourself in jewellery with our future-facing BA (Hons) in Jewellery Design and Production? Find out all about the course here.

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