Michael Wong is a Contemporary Silversmith and Jeweller trained in Melbourne, Australia. He is currently working at BAJ as a Jewellery Manufacturing Tutor. He recently struggled through his first British winter and still doesn’t understand why so many pints over here are served warm.
Munich Jewellery Week, (MJW), the annual, week-long celebration of contemporary jewellery and object, recently wrapped up for 2017. As always, it was filled with an assortment of eye-opening, thought-provoking, and idea challenging events and exhibitions. Spread across the city, the 90+ events included exhibitions, lectures, discussions, mobile presentations, punk rock parties and, of course, an annual visit to the Augustiner Keller beer hall. While it was a great time to catch up with old friends from around the globe, it was also a brilliant opportunity to meet new makers and put faces to names.
It’s always a challenge to see all that MJW has on offer over the course of the week, so in the mere 48 hours I had, it was downright impossible. Regardless, here are some highlights from my weekend at ‘schmuck’!
The first stop is Lost Weekend, the café and bookstore in one is always welcoming to the exhibitors and visitors of MJW. Here you can pick up a copy of the MJW Map and Guide while recharging with a caffeine hit. I took some time to plot out my adventures, splitting my two days between the shows around the city, and the events that were further out. With my map and my game plan set, it was time to visit some shows!
Lost Weekend’s central location makes it an excellent starting point or meeting point. It was a short walk to Off the Shelf, the Central Saint Martins exhibition of staff and student work. Shown for the second year at the Munich showroom of Vitsoe, Off the Shelf demonstrates some of the latest student work out of the UK.
“From her cheeky men earrings to her mesmeric Alchemistic Stick necklace, Kurihara has created a considered, humorous body of work that makes you laugh while constantly surprising and challenging your initial perceptions of her work.“
A hop, step and a jump from Vitsoe is Micheko Galerie, a gallery with a strong focus on contemporary Asian art. This year, the space was filled with the fun, playful, and downright magical work of Akiko Kurihara in her solo show, The cat did it. From her cheeky men earrings to her mesmeric Alchemistic Stick necklace, Kurihara has created a considered, humorous body of work that makes you laugh while constantly surprising and challenging your initial perceptions of her work.
Wallet lighter after picking up a Kurihara stud, I was off to Galerie Wittenbrink, an iconic Munich contemporary art gallery. Wittenbrink is located opposite the Pinakothek de Modern, the Design Museum. This year, Wittenbrink is hosting Quidam an exhibition by contemporary jewellery master, Otto Kunzli. This latest eye-opening show by Kunzli is a must see.
A stroll through the streets of Munich brought me to the Kunstpavillon, located in the Old Botanical Gardens. Here I found the group exhibition Tog_ther! Fill in e or a. Beyond exhibiting the latest work of some of the best contemporary makers around, Tog_ther! Fill in e or a, also aims to shift our reading of jewellery by changing the viewing context. After all, the motto of this show is: ‘chairs instead of showcases’.
Over the course of the afternoon, I ventured north to catch a few more shows before tonight’s main event at the Pinakothek. As always, Galerie Biro pulled out all the stops, with two exhibitions by Peter Bauhuis. Thesaurus and Nordisches Gold, Korinthische Bronze are both a combination of considered material investigations, technical master class and the application of a well formed artistic practice. Again, the wallet was out at the group exhibition HD-Treasure, a show investigating contemporary aesthetics and the reading of treasure in our high definition lives.
It was late afternoon and, as with most nights of MJW, there was a central event where people congregate. Tonight, it was the opening of Tone Vigeland. Jewellery – Object – Sculpture. Held at the Pinakothek de Modern, the huge solo retrospective of the Scandinavian studio jeweller’s work was as intimidating as it was impressive. Reaching back to works from 1958, the 150-piece show is undeniably a highlight from MJW.
With the night’s frivolities kicking on at a myriad of other venues, an early start on Saturday seemed unlikely.
I dedicated day two to visiting exhibitions further away from the Munich city centre. Two shows, both from the UK, lay just south of Central Station. Subterranea, a four-person exhibition looked at the literal and metaphorical idea of what lies beneath. Crash! Bang! Wallop! was a group show from the School of Jewellery in Birmingham, located in a beautiful jewellery studio and showroom. These exhibitions, as well as Off the Shelf, were brilliant British representatives to the increasingly international jewellery week.
Continuing the international theme, I visited the small vitrine, Das KloHäuschen, a former toilet block, now used as an art space. In this unique space, Australian contemporary maker, Claire McArdle, created Sextet, a series of six jewellery-sound pieces, a piece for each of the urinals standing in the toilet block.
” If you ever want to see a world of contemporary jewellery and object without having to travel the globe, look no further than Hall B1 of the Munich Fairground Messe.“
The afternoon was to be spent out at the Munich Fairground Messe, where Schmuck and Talente are always held. These are two of the biggest drawcards for the week, both being large group shows. Schmuck exhibits what is widely considered the best-of-the-best of contemporary jewellery. The prestigious Herbert-Hoffman Prize is awarded to three of the participants from the exhibition. Talente is a similarly impressive exhibition, looking at all areas of craft and design, with a focus on emerging talent.
While these two exhibitions were a huge focus of MJW, there were multiple other exhibitors out at the Messe. Galleries from around the world had set up shop, many travelling from other parts of Europe and a few coming from far further abroad. If you ever want to see a world of contemporary jewellery and object without having to travel the globe, look no further than Hall B1 of the Munich Fairground Messe. Highlights were the exhibitors of Gallery Marzee, from Nijmegen, Gallery Rosemarie Jager, from Hochhiem and Atta Gallery, from Bangkok.
Saturday night was the most social of all, with what seemed like every contemporary maker, collector, commentator and spectator, converging at the Augustiner Keller beer hall. The night of big schnitzels and bigger beers must be one of the best ‘networking events’ in the world. For those keen to rock the night away, the British-based punk group Scrotum Clamp, was close by to see them through.
Another slow morning meant missing what was sure to be an excellent lecture by Dr Katja Schnieder at the Pinakothek but I managed to squeeze in a couple more shows before jumping on my plane back to London. I ended my whirlwind 2017 MJW with a visit to Galerie Handwerk. Tribute to Manfred Bischoff was a touching group exhibition by 43 of the late master’s students.