I had a slow start to this project and in wondering why it was so difficult to begin, I arrived at a combination of factors, the first being that Onno Boekhoudt (OB) is one of my heroes. My introduction to his work and more importantly to his making process, came through my first jewellery tutor, Rowena Gough. His exhibition catalogues travelled a hemisphere to arrive at 20year old me and I remember looking at them and the slides shown us by our tutor, feeling overwhelmingly excited to see jewellery and sculpture all in one. His playful approach to making, materials and ideas is all that I loved and 20 years later, still love about jewellery. This project has reminded me all over again why I still make things, most especially in the face of a world absolutely overrun with stuff. Much like finding Hermann Junger and Bernhard Schobinger’s books in the art school library, meeting OB through catalogues was a formative experience. 

Another reason I lagged was the limitation of responding to only three works. It felt like a disservice to my memories of discovery, and to OB’s place within contemporary jewellery – both historically and the contemporary role his collection now plays. So I supplemented my exploration of the three works with looking at CODA’s full collection of OB’s work online and studying Carin Reinders book Onno Boekhoudt – Work’s in Progress (2010). This allowed a more fluid and productive response from heart, head and hands all working in unison. Most importantly though, I really enjoyed the making, it was a real privilege to spend so long with another maker’s ideas and the months dialoguing with his process and work, felt like an honourable nod to those exciting discoveries of my 20year old self.  

From Left: Brooch – Seeing & Looking, Object – Kingi, Object – Looking & Seeing, Bangle – The Honeymoon – Day 2

From Left: Brooch – Leftovers, Object – Tagged

  Bangle – Wrist Room


There are 22 works in total, all individually titled, but the title of the whole work, It should be something like breathing, is borrowed from Liesbeth den Besten’s article in Onno Boekhoudt – Work’s in Progress (2010).


My artist statement for It should be something like breathing:

These three collections of work are not only a response to the Onno Boekhoudt works assigned to me as part of this project, but also to Onno’s oeuvre, to his prioritisation of a playful making process over the importance of an end result, to his collection of found objects and importantly, to his fascination with holes. Liesbeth den Besten writes about Onno; 

In the context of jewellery, he believed the hole was the essence. The hole is the inside of the piece, it touches the body, is intimate and personal – and that, according to Boekhoudt, was what it was all about…

den Besten adds;  

…although with jewellery it is, in fact, always about the outside –  about what the world sees. For him jewellery was about freeing up space. p.105

What I have tried to bring to this project is a playful investigation of holes and the space they make for both the body and for light. For me, holes also point to the disparities between looking and seeing and the possibilities that sit between an absolute truth and the unavoidably shifting perspectives of an individual’s physical and philosophical standpoints. While holes provide a frame for an audience’s view into the work, the hole also provides a frame for the maker to look out at the audience. Through the provision of space for a wearer, the maker brings their audience to their making, and I thank Onno for the opportunity to bring me here to you now.


I’d like to finish this project with Reinders’ words;

Onno Boekhoudt’s artistic legacy is of great importance for all those interested in modern art, but I would like to single out one group in particular: art students. They can follow the tracks of his endless searches and discoveries without it necessarily having to result in a ‘find’. Onno Boekhoudt considered the investigations, the process, and his studies far more important than a possible end-result. That is an exceptional way of thinking and working. p.10.


Works as installed at CODA Onno Boekhoudt’s 3 works from left: steel tag, wooden square, silver brooch.  Image: Peter Deckers

 First collection of work made in relation to OB’s wooden square (central in previous image). Image: Peter Deckers

Second and third collection of works, made in relation to steel tag and silver brooch respectively. Image: Peter Deckers

Image: Peter Deckers


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