History (past, present, and future)

About the HANDSHAKE Project:

HANDSHAKE is a mentoring-, exhibition-, and development- package that provides unique opportunities and experiences for emerging New Zealand jewellery artists. It is a space where established artists hand over some of their quality knowledge to those asking for a ‘hand’, but at the same time is a two-way project that encourages symbiosis and a ‘give and take’. The accumulative ‘knowledge’ gained from the feedback relationship and the professional development is transformed for various quality exhibitions and collaborative projects, and reported back via their blog: handshakeproject.com. The project began in February 2011, founded by Peter Deckers. The idea was born out of recognition of the need for ongoing support for talented New Zealand artists after completing their jewellery/art study.

After each two years a ‘Best-Off HANDSHAKE’ is selected with exhibition opportunities in established international galleries and/or museums.

HANDSHAKE reverses the old ‘apprentice’ model, whereby a mentee works for a mentor – here the mentor works for the mentee through their feedback and support in the development of ideas and exhibition work. The first iteration of the project, HANDSHAKE1, began in 2011. Peter approached distinguished, internationally established artist and icons, offering them the opportunity to act as mentors in a collaborative two-year project. Twelve selected  New Zealand mentees were given the opportunity of making exhibition work alongside their requested jewellery heroes, without having to leave their own workshops. The digital tools used for communication and the hard work of the mentees resulted in lively blogs, touring exhibitions, collaborations, publications, networking, and an exceptional learning experience.
HANDSHAKE takes advantage of electronic technologies, like Skype, Dropbox, email and social media that enable the mentees to develop and refine their practice alongside their mentors in a virtual studio space. A significant part of the project is the maintenance of the HANDSHAKE blog for others to view and learn from. These blog posts present the fabric of the mentee’s ideas; demonstrate the processes of their research, their design thoughts, and its making, as well as self-reflection, editing,  and other experiences, including feedback. It introduces the practice of their mentor, summarises their advice and feedback, shows extracts from mentor publications, press reviews, and interviews, all making for a rich reading.

HANDSHAKE 1 (HS1) 2011 – 2013  started the mentor/exhibition project and pioneered a workable structure that builds upon exhilaration, networking and experiences.  The programme pioneered after the 3 years also a mentor collaboration -exhibition at Objectspace, Auckland that set the tone for more to come. Their very last project was at the Frame in Munich, during Schmuck in 2013. This memorable exhibition launched the international career of several Handshakers. It also introduced the world the up-and-coming of contemporary jewellery from New Zealand.

HANDSHAKE 2 (HS2) 2014 – 2015 project gave newly selected emerging  NZ makers a 2-year programme that included professional development workshops, a masterclass with Benjamin Lignel from France, tailor-made mentorships, and a busy exhibition programme that included an international one. The exhibition development and setup became part of the learning experience for both the organisers and mentees. The newly setup blog site showed the mentees’ experiences and the exhibition programme. 

HANDSHAKE 3 (HS3) 2016 –  2017  took the project one step further; enabling consolidation and synthesis, Those selected from the former two HS projects got challenging opportunities for more relationships to form, practices to develop, coalitions to form and ideas to refine. A series of national and international exhibitions at established venues were offered as testing grounds for these iterations. Hilde de Decker from Belgium and Sophia Bjorgman from Sweden came over conducting their masterclass. The exhibition year started with a collaboration exhibition at Objectspace with former mentors and invited artists and ended with a high profile exhibition at the Dowse (Lower Hutt, NZ) that was coached by their curator Sian van Dyk. This professional programme aimed to build independent makers with an innovative practice.

HANDSHAKE 4 (HS4) 2017-2018: Fresh recruits started off with a Masterclass with Estonian artist Tanel Veenre. The way we display jewellery was central to this masterclass, resulting in a diversity of exhibitions, including one online. Exhibitions have been at Pah Homestead, Auckland, October 2017; Toi Poneke, Wellington during the International Festival of The Arts, March 2018; and  Corban Estate Arts Centre during Auckland Art Week, October 2018 and an online exhibition on the HS4Handshake website.

HANDSHAKE 5 (HS5) 2019 offers two high-profile exhibition opportunities in 2019 for selected candidates from the HS1, 2 and 4 projects: HANDSHAKE in dialogue with CODA collection, CODA Museum, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands (Oct 2019 – Jan 2020: TBC) and ‘SPACE Collaboration’: Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Auckland (Nov 2019 – Jan 2020: TBC) and held in a combination of different smaller gallery spaces spread throughout the building. The year started with a professional development meeting and a masterclass with Roseanne Bartley and extends this by online coaching.



HANDSHAKE 6 (2020-2022)  Fresh recruits from interested emerging artists will be given opportunities that include a masterclass, professional developments, tailor-made mentors, and a series of exhibitions for testing ideas and developments. Selector and masterclass artist of HS6 is U.S. based Iris Eichenberg. More in December 2019.

HANDSHAKE writer’s coaching (2020-2022) A new feature will be coaching of review writing for early career curators, writers and historians coordinated by Ben Lignel. Please air your interest for HS6 and the HS writers’ coaching. Subject to funding. More soon

HANDSHAKE 7 (2023) Curated and Professional Development Opportunities (2021 – 2023) is also at planning-stage and will commence once funding is secured.  A series of masterclasses and high-profile International exhibition opportunities are planned for the Handshakers and the sector. More soon


About HANDSHAKE curation:

Next to its mentor and planned HS exhibition programmes are a series of curated exhibitions for national and international dealer galleries. These exhibitions are extra and give those selected new opportunities to exhibit existing and/or new work for these more established (commercial) venues. Handshake work developed from the past and current projects will get other opportunities to be seen at different locations through its curatorial programme.

These curated exhibitions are not part of the existing HS programme, but are additional and evolve primarily from the requests of galleries and curators.  Each curated exhibition project is different with a different mix of artists and works from different projects, curatorial focus, theme, criteria, exhibition set up, and local circumstances. The HS organisers aim to collaborate with each of the curators, and/or gallery owners and negotiate the works for selection.  HANDSHAKE “curated” exhibitions act also as another promotional tool for the HS artists. It brought the artists plenty of national and international opportunities.


About HANDSHAKE exhibitions online:

This exhibition is a new online platform to contextualise ideas and processes. There are two known ways of exhibiting contemporary jewellery: on the body (an exhibition platform since prehistoric times) and in cabinets/plinths or on a wall. This online presentation is not emulating any of those, but attend to break away from it.

The progressive nature of the whole HANDSHAKE package aims to build ‘independent makers with an innovative and energetic practice’.
HANDSHAKES motto is: “Creative Leaders beyond Dependency”….
“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

OVERVIEW of all past present and future HANDSHAKE projects:

View a short video about the HS project (created by Jhana Millers)
MAKERS 101 LTD: Peter Deckers (HS founder and -artistic director) & Hilda Gascard (HS coordinator and -administrator) | JEMbooks: Peter Deckers and Hilda Gascard in association with Becky Bliss | 
Advisory committee: Andrea Daly, Renee Bevan, Mia Strata, Garth O’Brien
VIEW  exhibition news
VIEW selected news

image: Mentor Vincent Pontillo-Verrastro (Menomonie, USA) holding his laptop showing a Skype meeting with HS4 mentee Nik Hanton (Wellington, NZ)

Chronological links of the HANDSHAKE model
June 2018: The story behind Wellington’s Handshake - by Helen Wyatt
May 2018: Isolation and Global Sameness. About Critique. Interview with Peter Deckers


“….we do need good artists, challenging exhibitions, quality outlets, a buying public and hardworking gallerists, and when these things are future proofed, critics can review them….”

About Critique. Interview with Peter Deckers


April 2018: IWA: New Zealand Makers- exhibition at the FRAME gallery, Munich


Valuing the handmade: New Zealand jewellers in Munich: by Kim Paton

The FRAME review: by Helen Denton from Klimt02




October 2017: SHOW it ALL- by Peter Deckers



Article about exhibition practice through the lens of Handshake by Peter Deckers


July 2017: Peter Deckers interview for Te Auaha, the new school for Creative Arts in Wellington, NZ


Peter Deckers interview for Te Auaha, the new school for Creative Arts in Wellington, NZ

June 2017: Contemporary Jewellery in Context: a Handshake blueprint- publication

Arnoldsche publication, edited by Peter Deckers

see preview of book

June 2017: Our contemporary jewellery artists shine at Schmuck 2017
November 2016: AJF interview: Peter Deckers

Benjamin Lignel AJF interview with Peter Deckers about the Handshake project: https://artjewelryforum.org/peter-deckers 

September 2016: SPANpoints catalogue

The HS3 catalogue with writings from Hilde de Decker, Kim Paton, Tanel Veenre, Peter Deckers, Sofia Björkman, a  gazette from Dialogue Collective and introductions to the 12 HS3 artists: spanpoints-hs3-catalogue

5 April 2016: Overview 26, magazin

In Overview 26 you can find an article about how the HANDSHAKE project has progressed.

March 2016: During Munich Jewellery Week

Download SPECIALS: a photo collage of the HandShake Alumni Munich exhibition at the Einsäulensaal in the Munich Residenz Palace.

DOWNLOAD Munich Specials catalogue LR  PDF
September 2015: Radio NZ Interview: Vanessa Arthur and David Neale

Standing Room Only for Sunday 13 September 2015

 Jewellers’ international handshake   

For almost two years 11 emerging New Zealand contemporary jewellers have been mentored by big names international names in jewellery. Now the work of mentors and mentees is being shown side by side for the first time. The Handshake project paired the Kiwi jewellers with their heros at the start of last year. They’ve collaborated using online video and email. So how did it work? Mentor David Neale from Melbourne in Australia, and to Hastings jeweller Vanessa Arthur talks about their collaboration. Mentors & Mentees, is on at AVID Gallery in Wellington.

LISTEN: http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player?audio_id=201770451

September 2015: Stuff interview: Avid Gallery exhibition
July 2015: Susan Cummings Interview

Interview by: Susan Cummings

Peter Deckers is a spark plug. He has started up many conferences, organized exchanges and exhibitions, and generally speaking whipped up activities to encourage and develop the New Zealand jewelry scene. In his show Deflating Standard’ at Avid Gallery, he also has created jewelry that questions value and the status quo. It is passionate work.

 Click here: to read more about the philosophy behind his diverse work practice

July 2015: Klimt02 article: Peter Deckers

KLIMT 02 article: HANDSHAKE project founder, Peter Deckers, unravels how the pairing of mentors and exhibitions accelerates selected New Zealand jewellery artists in their thinking, making, presentation and networking.

Click here for a full report on the pioneering journey of developing ‘leaders beyond dependency’.

May 2015: Susan Cumming interview - Jude Carswell about the HS exhibition at Avid

Art Jewellery Forum’s Susan Cummins recently interviewed Jude Carswell from AVID Gallery Wellington, with a few mentions for Handshake. Handshake2 opens 08 September 2015 at Avid

Click here for the article

November 2014: Dominium Post interview of the 3 Handshakers selected for SCHMUCK, Germany

click hereHandcrafted heaven by Diana Dekker (article in the Dominium Post, 17 November)

September 2014 (Radio NZ interview: Peter Deckers, Ameila Pascoe and Ruudt Peters

click here: Radio interview: A Two Way Street – Handshake2 ( 13′ 50″ ) Originally aired on Standing Room Only, Sunday 14 September 2014

Gut instinct, intuition, and accessing the belly of creativity may sound a bit abstract, but according to Dutch contemporary jeweller Ruudt Peters it is here that the creative process begins. He has been paired up to mentor Wellington-based jeweller, Amelia Pascoe as part of Hand Shake Two, an online mentorship programme where selected mentees can develop their practice. So how does the online process work, and how valuable is mentorship in the development of our emerging artists? Sonia Sly investigates. Listen to that radio interview with Peter Deckers, Amelia Pascoe and her mentor Ruudt Peters!

Mentoring is a two way street, and in the case of online mentorship programme – Handshake 2, which supports the development of our most talented contemporary jewellers, it is the mentor who must work for the mentee to help them to develop their ideas.

Netherlands-based Ruudt Peters is a man who continues to defy conventional thinking in his approach to art, object and contemporary jewellery— as a pioneer in his art form he would rather sit on the periphery and stay true to his own voice, rather than conform to tradition.  In-keeping with his practice, when it comes to teaching, he leads his students through meditation and blind drawing to bring out an inner core and authenticity that is unique to the maker. For him, it’s not about making an object for the sake of beauty.

I hate beautiful…for me, jewellery is much more [it is] the content, the emotion, the way you wear it. You as a maker load the piece up, and the wearer loads the piece again. So you have a double loaded object.

Ruudt’s creative process and teaching methods are highly sought-after and have found their way into the heart of Wellington-based Amelia Pascoe whose own work straddles sculpture, object and adornment.

Pascoe has a Masters in Zoology and although she has made a departure from her previous work in biosecurity,  it has provided a great deal of inspiration in her jewellery practice. One project completed though Whitireia Polytechnic’s Jewellery Design course, involved a series of pieces based on desire and trapping, where she likens the devices used to contain or constrain an animal – loops around the necks and pins that pierce the body, to the way in which we attach jewellery. The jewellery and objects that evolved from the project were ambiguous in form, with some containing an element of danger: “…a trap has to meet both the needs or desires of the  trapper, but also the needs and desires of the thing you want to attract.”

Pascoe is hoping to gain much more freedom in her practice, and being mentored by a uniquely acclaimed international practitioner such as Ruudt Peters was as obvious choice. “I come from a science background and I know that I can get quite brain-heavy [so] the idea of working with someone who could help me develop other aspects of my work was quite appealing.”

Handshake2 is the brainchild of contemporary jeweller and educator Peter Deckers. It is an online mentorship programme which has been funded by Creative New Zealand. As part of the process a series of exhibitions will take place, showcasing the outcome of the mentor-mentee development.

June 2014: ArtNews article about Munich 2014, by Peter Deckers

Peter Deckers Schmuck trip 2014 feedback: Pilgrimage to Munich, ArtNews article

July 2013: Brisbane: JMGA keynote speaker Peter Deckers about the HS project

Peter Deckers’ keynote address at the JMGA conference in Brisbane (Participation and Exchange) 12 – 14 July 2013: Interactive Partners – peter deckers

15th Biennial JMGA conference: Participation + Exchange, Brisbane

June 2013: Gallery Loupe HS project focus

The art jewelry community is a tight knit group. So why not make it even smaller?…..      read more: http://galleryloupe.com/blog/?p=1028 (includes photos of the collaboration work from Andrea Wagner and Lyndsay Raine)

June 2013: Short Video about the HS project: for 'pledge me'
June 2013: Radio NZ interview: Sharon Fitness and Lisa Walker

you can hear a report on the collaboration project on RadioNZ: Arts on Sunday.  with interviews of Sharon Fitness and Lisa Walker

February 2013: Overview article about the HS project

You can read about the Handshake Project pre and post Munich in these issues of Overview: snakeview#11-FEB13 and overview-12 APR2013 thanks to The Jewellers Guild of Greater Sandringham.

February 2013: Big Idea review by Mark Amery: HS exhibition at Toi Poneke, Wellington

Deck the Halls, review by Mark Amery the big idea by Mark Amery

February 2012: Radio NZ, Kim Hill interview: Lisa Walker
January 2012 (Scoop article: HS project)

Toi Pōneke: jewellers meet their idols – Scoop

September 2011: New Wire HS article

NZ jewellers shake hands with overseas idols: news wire

August 2011: News wire interview with HS1 mentee Sarah Read

Kiwi jeweller hand in hand with her hero: news wire

August 2011: First HS exhibition with its media attention

Studio 20/17: HandShake – sneak peak ,  openingJessica Winchcombe artist talk, Klimt02

Interview with jeweller Jessica Winchcombe about HANDSHAKE 1 exhibition in Sydney

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