HANDSHAKE 4 candidates were selected by Ruudt Peters. The project lasted 2 years, between 2017-2018, The twelve mentees with their mentors were matched with renowned mentors from international practices. HS4 started off with a Masterclass with Estonian artist Tanel Veenre. His brief was to introduce and exercise internal and external presentation methods, in order to inspire the group in creative presentations for galleries and online.  Exhibitions have been at Pah Homestead, Auckland, October 2017 (with LEANINGS); Toi Poneke, Wellington  in March 2018 (with PROCESS); Corban Estate Arts Centre, October 2018 (with POLERISED) and an online exhibition on the HANDSHAKE Project website. The HS4 project ended in December 2018 to make way of HANDSHAKE 5. HANDSHAKE 5 was selected by CODA museum team. These selected HS5 candidates came from HS1, HS2, HS3 and HS4 projects. 


HANDSHAKE is a mentoring and exhibition package somewhat unique to the contemporary craft-art world. It is a space where artists hand-over some of their quality knowledge to those asking for a ‘hand’ and is a two-way project that encourages symbiosis and a ‘give and take’.


The HANDSHAKE project inauguration began in February 2011, is the brainchild of Wellington based artist, curator and tutor Peter Deckers. The idea was born out of recognition of the need for ongoing support for talented New Zealand art graduates after completing their jewellery/art study. HANDSHAKE reverses the old ‘apprentice’ model, whereby a mentee works for a mentor – here the mentor works more for the mentee through their feedback and support in the development of ideas and exhibition work.


The first iteration of the project, HANDSHAKE 1, began when twelve jewellery graduates from New Zealand were given the opportunity to produce exhibition work alongside their jewellery heroes from around the globe, without having to leave their own workshops. Peter approached these distinguished, internationally established artist and icons, offering them the opportunity to act as mentors in a collaborative two-year project. The result? A lively blog, touring exhibitions, an exceptional learning experience as well as a book. The model has been ever since developed and finetuned.  The model can be described as an equivalent Masters that focusses on practical learning with professional exhibition outcomes, networking and ethics. HS1 was followed up by new recruits for HS2 and HS4.


HANDSHAKE 3, 5 and the planned 7 take the project further, enabling more relationships to form, practices to develop and ideas to refine. A series of  international exhibitions are lined up as testing grounds for these other iterations. 

Parallel to the current HANDSHAKE programme are a constant flow of curatorial opportunities for all ex and current HSrs. These curatorial exhibitions are mainly requests or opportunities from dealer galleries.

HANDSHAKE takes advantage of online communication technologies that enables the mentees to develop and refine their practice alongside their mentors in a virtual studio space. A significant part of the project is that the mentee records their process via the HANDSHAKE blogs for others to view and learn from. Through their individual blog pages, the mentees present the fabric of their ideas, demonstrate the processes of their research, design, making, self-reflections, including the struggles and celebrations, their search for deep philosophical connections, explored possibilities, and edits of solutions. It also includes why mentees choose their mentor, summaries the advice and feedback, shows extracts from mentor publications, press reviews and interviews, all making for a rich reading.

“….Contemporary jewellery is shaped by a distinct awareness of the situation in which it exists…”*

*Damian Skinner ,“What is contemporary jewellery” in Contemporary Jewellery in Perspective ed Damian Skinner. Published by Art Jewelry Forum Mill Valley California, 2013. pg. 11

Pin It on Pinterest