HANDSHAKE is a space where established artists hand-over some of their quality knowledge to those asking for a ‘hand’; it is a two-way project that encourages symbiosis and give & take.

HANDSHAKE has two stages: the first is more like a traditional mentor/mentee relationship and the second is where the mentor becomes their colleague and in some cases their collaborator. This buildup allows the Handshaker to develop their work and ideas as an independent practicing artist. Other exhibition opportunities in the form of curated exhibitions arise and are offered to selected current and past Handshakers. These are mainly exhibitions in national and international dealer galleries.

The project was created by Wellington-based jewellery sparkplug, artist, curator, writer 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, through feedback and support in the development of ideas and presentation, works more for the mentee.

The series of exhibitions for each project are purpose made to accelerate the progression of each maker’s work. Each new group gets professional development opportunities, an exhibition programme with its mentor sessions. Therefore no HANDSHAKE exhibition looks the same.

Each project is recorded and reflected on the HANDSHAKE website (handshakeproject.com) which also includes current and past developments and their outcomes. Blog posts, documented exhibitions,  publications and exhibition catalogues form together a solid archival package that can be shared around the world.

The HANDSHAKE project could only succeed thanks to the continued funding of Creative New Zealand, support from individuals, Makers 101, JEMbooks and all others involved.

View a short video clarifying the HS project

View Jessica Winchcombe talking about the background of the very first HS 2011 exhibition in Sydney.

Listen to the ‘Standing Room’ interviews between mentee Amelia Pascoe and mentor Ruudt Peters.

OVERVIEW of all past present and future HANDSHAKE projects 

“The HANDSHAKE project and subsequent exhibition structure will provide an opportunity for conversation and the realisation of new ideas. It will allow the work to be on its own terms; not restricted as is sometimes the case in certain gallery situations or exhibition formats. It will be a space to open up, research, push, and reflect; a space to consolidate; all under the framework of a specialist mentor and through a planned structure for development. This is an exciting construct. This sounds like a place I want to build from, a house I want to work on, live in; a neighbourhood I want to engage with, grow ‘veges’ with and invite people over for cups of tea.” –Renee Bevan, 2014-

With so many good makers around the globe, and technology that allows you instant access to everyone and everything they do, we now have the benefit of choice … For the first time in history the continuing ‘student’ is not prey to the random local educationalists, but is connected with somebody within electronic reach, who has similar or complementary interests and shares their love for object-making.

Meet The TEAM

HANDSHAKE organisation: MAKERS 101 LTD, Peter Deckers (HS founder and -artistic director) & Hilda Gascard (HS coordinator and -administrator)

HANDSHAKE advisory (2019-2022): Andrea Daly,  Renee Bevan, and Mia Straka 

HANDSHAKE International Strategic Advisor: Liesbeth den Besten

HANDSHAKE Legal Advisor: Garth O’Brien 

JEMbooks publishing: Peter Deckers and Hilda Gascard in association with Becky Bliss

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