I love words and I love discovering words that describe concepts concisely and precisely.

When I saw the word “Unicum” on the sheet next to the Jantje Fleischhut work I’ll be responding to from the CODA Museum collection I was excited.

UNICUM: “A unique example or specimen”. What a perfect word.

The word has the same meaning, and is spelled the same, in English and Dutch (both coming from the Latin word unicus meaning sole, single, unique). This seems like a nice synchronicity as the pieces will be shown in The Netherlands. The blend of English and Dutch, New Zealand and The Netherlands.



I’ve been carefully reviewing the works that I have been given to respond to; making notes, playing with materials and researching the artists’ work.

I’ve received three artists’ works: one from Evert Nijland, Tehri Tolvanen, and Jantje Fleishut.

These artists’ all use materials and techniques in unexpected ways- fitting perfectly with the ‘innovation’ theme.

They mix precious with nonprecious, natural with artificial, and translate traditional jewellery forms into something non-traditional and surprising.

The end of the Handshake 4 journey

And so we reach the end of the Handshake 4 journey…

A journey that’s involved emails, messages and video conversations sent over a distance of more than 13,463 kms. It’s involved time a difference of 19 hours with one rising for the day and the other concluding their day. It’s involved one sitting in a singlet and the other wrapped up for winter. It’s involved hard questions being asked and answered (or, in my case, attempted to answer). It’s involved discussions of materials, techniques, and concepts. It’s involved the imparting of knowledge and experience. It’s involved direction and guidance. It’s involved getting hands dirty.

Opportunities like the Handshake project are few and far between. To be paired with a maker and artist of the calibre of Vincent Pontillo-Verrastro has been an incredible experience.

Karl Jung said, “the meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” The meeting of my fellow Handshake 4’ers, their mentors, and our master-class tutors has definitely transformed me and my making.

Thank you Peter Deckers, Hilda Gasdard, Creative New Zealand, Tanel Veenre, Gabby O’Connor… and, of course, Vincent Pontillo-Verrastro.


Dual Process

DualProcess i

When we’re making decisions we approach the process using two different systems of thinking. In Psychology, the name for this process is called “Dual Process Theory”.

The first system is our intuition. It’s swift, automatic, subconscious and emotional. The second system is slower and more intentional. It deliberately and consciously works through the various considerations and variables.

It’s this polarity in thinking that I’ve been investigating in my series of work for the final Handshake 4 exhibition at Corbans Estate.

DualProcess ii

Intersection / Polarity

A different kind of Polarity…

TheCarter 1

It’s not news that there’s a considerable overlap and intersection between different art practices. Maybe one of the least expected intersections could be the relationship between hip-hop and traditional art movements such as the Renaissance, Classicism, and Baroque. My mentor, Vincent Pontillo-Verrastro, was discussing with me his current interest in music videos and this inspired me to go on a rummage through YouTube. This is where I found ‘APES**T’ by The Carters, shot in the Louvre.

The costuming references the work beautifully, but the translation isn’t too literal. It’s an unusual mix. Modern urban with the deeply traditional. I like the fact that maybe the centuries-old artists and art forms are becoming more mainstream, less elitist and more accessible. Two genres that could be seen to have been polarised, are intersecting and it’s beautiful.

TheCarters 2

I’m somewhat ambivalent about the track itself, but that’s really irrelevant for this conversation.

The point is that within the various arts there’s room for less polarity and more intersection in unexpected places.

TheCarters 3

TheCarters 4



The magic in life’s about polarities- without light there’s no shadow.

I’ve been thinking about our up-coming show Polarity and the kind of work I want to make given the nature of the space, the installation plan and the title of the group show. The idea of duality/contradiction opens a plethora of options- the contrast of textures, colours, materials, shape and form. Now it is a question of where to begin?


Greatness and Smallness

There are some inspirations and admirations that stand the test of time. In fact, centuries of time already.

I’ve been looking at the work of one of the most impressive creators, inventors, scientists and artists of all time- Leonardo Da Vinci. Such intellect, creativity and determination.

We all, at times, feel very, very, small- but when you view such greatness the incredible smallness of yourself doesn’t feel quite so bad.

Spell 1


One spell of a collection of three.

Material play with wood, latex, rubber, mild steel, paint.



‘Heal’ Wood, latex, liquid rubber, paint

I had another mentor session with Vincent. A session where I was pushed into uncomfortable places and asked to explain my position. What we both knew was that I didn’t really have one yet.

We initially talked about my research into the sacred feminine, witchcraft and its relationship to healing and “cursing”. For centuries natural phenomena that couldn’t be explained by other means were attributed to witchcraft, or were believed to be able to be cured by witchcraft. We then moved on to a related subject I’m very interested in- the social construction of health and wellness. Never has health been more closely associated with socioeconomic factors, nor has it been so heavily monetized by the Pharmaceutical industry, as it is in contemporary society. Following our chat I’ve been thinking further about just how closely related these subject matters are. Forgetting even the fact that the use of healing magic and medication have the same goal, there are other factors that bind them.

The placebo effect shows that medicine and magic can work in similar ways. Placebos have been proven in numerous double blind tests to be just as effective as some medications. It’s peoples’ belief in them that gives them their efficacy. In the same way spells and magic aren’t necessarily in their own right effective, it is the potency that people imbue them with that gives them strength.

I’m certainly not suggesting that all medicine is ineffective. Nor am I an advocate for the use of magic. All I am wondering is whether the might of our mind is an underestimated resource for healing?

The idea of healing brings me full circle to the idea of metamorphosis and transformation- as with the chrysalis. From unwell to healed. From healthy to sick. From ailing to flourishing… and for all of us, at some stage, from alive to dead.


Metamorphosis & Transformation

Metamorphosis and Transformation are concepts that are frequently explored in art, and the chrysalis is a popular motif used to signify it. While this is a well-trodden road, there is something so appealing about the magic of the process and its visual drama. The contrast between the transparent casing and the graphic quality of the folded shape within is nature at its most perfect and enchanting. What is this sorcery?! Thinking about this magic brings me to witchcraft. I’ve been investigating the nature of femininity and female strength and looking into the history of witchcraft feels like a logical progression.

Handshake 4: "Box"

I’ve been thinking about the nature of identity and its connection to the experience of our gender and sexuality.

The female genitalia has been represented in art since the dawn of humankind. It’s been responded to in a myriad of ways by various cultures and ‘stages’ of humanity.

Its earliest iterations were largely symbolic in their representation, but the reductive nature of their depiction is striking and poetic. As can be seen in the below cave carving believed to be one of the earliest depictions of the female genitalia.

Vulva EarlyMan

Marshack, A., 1972: The Roots of Civilization: the Cognitive Beginning of Man’s First Art, Symbol and Notation New York, McGraw-Hill

Cattien stone yoni

(Photograph credit: Binh Giang)

This later symbolic portrayal of the female genitalia called a ‘Yoni’ was found in Vietnam. It takes a more linear and sharply geometric form.

I asked myself how I would communicate the female genitalia through my modern lens, with the materials that I use and am familiar with. What visual, or functional elements, were important in my interpretation that had been omitted in the earlier versions? Which were common amongst all three?

It amused me that the Vietnamese ‘Yoni’, unintentionally, hints at the (often used pejoratively) contemporary colloquialism of “Box”. Something I played with in my version below.


“Box” / 2017 / leather, wood, pearl

Despite the quite simple forms and lines used in the three examples shown here, what is being communicated is so clear. My version is the most obvious. Maybe because the material is so closely aligned with the “real thing”. Maybe because the others are stone depictions, a material which places different limitations upon the representation given the makers skill set. Maybe because we’re viewing it through our modern lens.

Where this investigation is “going”, I’m unsure. It was one of those pathways that I started down and felt I needed to bring to some form of resolution.

It may well be the end, or it may be the birth, of something…


Handshake4: Material reads- Honesty & Subversion

In my first conversation with my mentor in the Handshake 4 project, Vincent Pontillo-Verrastro, he questioned me about my approach to materials.

My answer was unintentionally somewhat disingenuous, largely because I had never truly articulated it properly. I said at the time that I used leather because of its aesthetic qualities. While this is true, it’s not the entire answer. Leather as a material has other “reads” depending on its use… reads that I privately play with but I’m not sure I’ve been ready to make concrete and divulge properly.

At the end of our first conversation, he challenged me to create 10 pieces using contrasting materials that weren’t leather. I chose latex and mild steel. They were two materials that I had had sitting in my studio for some time and had wanted to do something with, but had never thought of combining in one piece until this point.

Latex has similar properties to leather in some ways. It behaves something like leather on steroids. It stretches, it melds, it clings. And, like leather, it has different reads depending on its context. Honesty/Subversion1


Continuum CloseUp

'Continuum'- The See Here instal

I'm very pleased to be part of The See Here. The See Here is "made up of 12 artists. It is dedicated to producing work that engages with its physical parameters as a window gallery, and extends understandings of materials and their relationship to the body and/or space. Our work is experimental and explorative."

In the space I currently have on show the work 'Continuum'.

"The contrast between light and shadow is regularly used to outline an allegorical understanding of good and bad. In the physical world there is only the presence of light, and the absence of it. So too in humans there is no wickedness; it is merely the presence or absence of good that creates the construct. The continuum of varying degrees of good is present in us all."

METALLOphone: Bonds exhibition


I'm very pleased to have a work selected for the third international biennial of contemporary metal art “METALLOphone: Bonds” which will be held at (AV17) gallery, Vilnius, Lithunania. It runs from the 5th to the 26th of October.

The curators of the show say of it: "As a unified speech, this material, having mediational characteristics, not only brings together artists from around the world but also has the ability to embody the intangible connection between the artist and the environment through a creative process. Each person sees the world in his own way, describes different events in his own words so the connections embodied in metal in this “METALOphone” will reveal authentic, unique stories of the artists."

Galerie Marzee- Graduate Award Show Opening

It was more than a little bit buzzy to see my work exhibited in a space the size of Galerie Marzee, and with the outstanding reputation of Marzee.

So many great works to see it was hard to absorb it all.

My friend, Camille Sanson, and me at the Opening.

NikandCamille Marzee

Land Jewels

Amsterdam is a jewel.

Some jewels are not jewels to be worn on the body, some jewels burrow deep into your being and are worn internally.

This place is a tiny jewel in my heart.

Amsterdam. You.

Amsterdam Canal

Rob Koudjis Galarie

Sometimes wonderful, magical, things happen unexpectedly.

I booked accommodation for myself and my dear friend, Camille, in Amsterdam for a couple of nights before we headed off to Njmegen for the Galerie Marzee opening.

We arrived late in the day and it was raining. In the morning I went for an early walk and found that I was sleeping above the Rob Koudjis Contemporary Jewellery Gallery.

Sleeping 3 levels above a gallery I've wanted to visit for years and I had no idea when I booked?! The universe was looking after me.

I was a tiny bit gutted when I realised it was closed throughout my entire stay, but I like to think I'm one of the few contemporary jewellers who's been able to stay above the gallery and lived and breathed the space it occupies for a few days!

2016 RobKoudjisGalarie 01

Fingers Graduate Award Show Opening

When you start studying contemporary jewellery in New Zealand and hear about the Fingers Graduate Award Show, you know you want that spot in the exhibition when you graduate.

To meet with the wonderful two other jewellers in the show and to meet the other Auckland makers and collectors was an awesome experience and I feel lucky to be part of such a special community.

2016 FingersGraduateAwardShow 01

Fingers Graduate Award Show

In the last week I've been working towards my Fingers Graduate Awards Show submission.

I've revisited the cuir bouilli technique and worked with different kinds of vintage leather from 1950s. There have been successes, and failures (crocodile does not like to be boiled!)

It has raised questions for me about the way in which luxury items can pass from being highly desirable to reviled. From opulence to obselence. Milkandhoney2

Watch out the Netherlands!

So unbeliveably excited to have paid for my tickets, so I can attend the international graduate show at Gallarie Marzee in the Netherlands.