My Chronological Order 1995-2008

Lisa Walker

Lisa Walker -  Lisa Walker, a world renowned and fascinating jeweler, was born in Wellington, New Zealand (1967). Walker studied art and design at the Otago Polytech Art School in Dunedin, New Zealand. She was one of the co-founders of the “Workshop 6“ – a jewelry workshop in Auckland, New Zealand. Since the beginning of the 90's Walker has exhibited in numerous group and solo exhibitions worldwide, at central locations in the field. She has received important prizes and her works are in central collections. Between the years 1995 -2001 Walker was a student of Proffessor Otto Künzli, in the jewellry class of the Academy of Art , Munich, Germany, there she also received an award for her achievements. Parrallel to this, Walker lectures in her works and gives workshops for artists, solely and in cooperation, like with her partner the jeweller Karl Fritsch, the jeweller Helen Britton, and others. Among other things she lectured about her works at the conference "Creative Modes" that was held as a cooperation between the departmenr of History and Theory and the department of Jewellry and Fashion, at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem. (April, 2009). Between 2002 -2009 Lisa Walker started a studio in Munich, Germany and startingfrom 2010 in Wellington, New Zealand.


Einat Leader









If the metal brooch had been plastic I couldn´t have broken the sheep`s legs like that, so you could say the nature of the material dictated how it turned out.



The rubber-covered mussel shell brooch. I worked in a cafe in Munich where New Zealand

were on the menu. "The only thing you should ever do to a shell is drill a hole through it" I was told in my jewellery training years ago.


Hippy, crafty. Hippy, crafty jewellery. Colours, shapes, materials that fall into a hippy, crafty hole. Or colours, shapes and materials that are so personal and familiar to me that I can´t stand them any more. I´m interested in a piece that is almost falling into this hippy/crafty thing, but a tension holds it back. How can I use, for example, velvet, cork, felt or leather, without it looking hippy, but nearly?


Glue was one of the first new materials I worked with. It´s pretty much a goldsmith`s cheat material, you´re not really meant to use it, and if you do then very secretly. I had to "unlearn" everything I´d learnt in my jewellery training (which was quite formal, when we needed silver we had to melt our own granules and make sheet or wire, lots of forging, a respect for metal and it´s working processes). I made pieces just out of glue, bashing and squeezing it before it dried, scraping the drips off my table.


Quite a bit of New Zealand applied art is about using natural materials. Nearly all of this is about the respect of nature. It drives you nuts after a while. You do have other choices when you work with those materials. You can be a bit mean and nasty (if it suits), ironic, challenging. Maybe there´s more to say than just respect for nature.


I shop sometimes for materials at fabric, haberdashery and hobby shops. I like the miniatures the hobby shops have (mostly for model train sets). This is a  paradise for a jeweller, if sometimes a too seductive one - often the miniature sets and packages are very much "finished". They are already beautiful.  And just because an object is so intriguing because it´s so small doesn´t mean it´ll be any good as jewellery. It´s easy to make over the top bad kitch.


 I like the idea of abusing standard hobby materials.


The haberdashery, fabric and hobby departments of big department stores have unusual materials that one hardly ever sees (it´s also comfortable to shop there with the friendly old women behind the counters and the slow relaxed atmosphere), like all the things for handmaking teddy bears or dolls. Some materials I have no idea what they´re normally used for. Sometimes it´s because I don´t understand the German on the packets, or I don´t bother to find out, they just look like good materials.


Sometimes I throw things together quickly to make a piece, my only intention being to fill up a surface. At other times, each element is very carefully put together, almost measured to the millimetre, quite uptight. 


There´s a culture of women in New Zealand who dress up in lots of shiny clothes to go to parties, or just to work. They have fake fur-covered cushions at home and kitch everywhere. They´re strong with deep voices and laugh a lot and don´t take much seriously. I used materials that I thought they might like.


I had to come to glass beads eventually, they´re in every hobby and haberdashery shop. A jeweller friend has used them for a long time in her work, so they felt the forbidden material for a while. 


I like the ancient fabrics and objects decorated with sequins, beads, gold thread, velvet, and embroidery that you can find in the Treasure Chamber Museums over here, we have nothing like this in New Zealand (I often see postcards from these museums on the walls next to other jewellers` work benches).


It´s really OK for people to wear odd -looking brooches.


I nearly always use materials that people have given me, someone else´s aesthetic, but chosen with my work in mind - this is enough reason for me to then use that material.  When I choose certain shops and go shopping for materials, usually the material is connected to an idea or attitude I have.  If I just find the material, on the street or wherever, then that´s something different again.


I don´t always know what I´m doing. I hope it stays like that.


I made a piece that is very beautiful.  You look at it and you get that zzzt  feeling and you just know that it´s beautiful. The materials, or perhaps the form, might still be quite unusual, or something we don´t often see, so the piece may still sit in an unusual place. (but it´s also OK just to make something beautiful) I like this balance of an accepted notion of beauty, and oddness (or something different), it´s not easy to find.


I consciously worked with "influence", purposely using elements from other people`s work in my own. This was exciting at first.


I like taking advice from people who make suggestions about my work, nice to have break from having to make all the decisions myself.


Karl made an amazing piece with a long chain hanging from it. I got excited and used the idea in my own work. Well, I can´t quite work like that, when it comes to me and Karl. We have issues of influencing each other that evolves as time goes on.


I was given a "LISA" german magazine, a cutsey, girly, horsey, magazine. There were cat stickers as a free gift and they fitted with the sweet, cute, girly-wirly thing that I hate and avoid, but wanted to work with somehow. There was a phase in the class meetings where the word "süß" ("cute") was used instead of "schön" ("beautiful"), I thought this was stupid.


I tried working with boys stuff, racing cars, trains, plastic fighting figures, things like that.


I saw an exhibition in a Neuburg Museum of "Scherenschnitt" (scissor cut) work. Very finely cut out shapes in black paper, pasted onto white background, they look like silhouettes.  It´s a centuries-old art practice and very beautiful. The show was by a woman born in 1899 and she had created fantasy, fairytale-type pictures, very romantic, childlike and happy. I wanted to use this somehow in my work. Often the first thing I do, without referring to photos or drawings, is to immediately reinforce that first impression that has stayed with me. I choose the most suitable materials and just start making.


Sometimes after I´ve made a piece, I know that it has something to do with my future work.


Whenever I go back to New Zealand or Australia, and look at work from other artists, I´m often surprised at the similarities to my own work. There´s a style from there that I hardly ever see in Munich.


Every year I go back to New Zealand. It´s very present for me that I´m a foreigner in Germany, and there´s often this homeland lust. Germans often feel they have to mention sheep when I say I´m from New Zealand. They´re often surprised when I say that we have cities too! Sheep have become my personal NZ symbol, they´ve missed out a bit on becoming big like Vegemite, jandals, or kiwifruit.  



I bought this sewn dog patch and sewed it directly onto some silk, a finished brooch. How far can I go with this "readymade" thing? I finally bought a finished brooch and showed it as my work.


I´d found a direction with the sewing and embroidery pieces, and I could have stayed with that, but it was too secure, I still needed bashing around. And a few people had put this work into the "housewife/typical women`s work" type box, which wasn´t my intention. So I had to have a break for a while to see what I thought about it. Now it doesn´t bother me that I get chucked into that box now and then. I think the work has enough another qualities to pull itself out of this stereo-type, which interests me. Can you consciously throw yourself into stereo-type boxes? Or not place yourself in any of them and stand somewhere else?


When I´m making things and feeling bored, some good things can happen (in the work).


Bone, Stone, Shell. I wouldn´t have worked with these materials in New Zealand. Jewellers like Warwick Freeman, Alan Preston, Elena Gee have influenced a generation of jewellers, and a lot of jewellery has been made with these materials, referencing "New Zealand identity". The British colonists came to New Zealand only about 160 years ago, and today we have a culturally mixed society of mostly Maori (original inhabitants), Pakeha (largely ex-British), Asian, Pacific Island, European. And for about the last 30 years more and more artists, writers and historians have been looking at what it means to be a "New Zealander". In the jewellery world however, it was regarded as really only acceptable to make jewellery that explored this theme, and a huge bandwagon had developed. I found it harder and harder  to appreciate the bigger picture. When I came to Munich it took about two years before I had to look at this. As a New Zealander living in Germany I had no choice but to be very aware of my New Zealandness. I also felt an obligation to be a dutiful New Zealand jewellery daughter.  But alongside that (in the beginning) was also a cynical element. I had to be mean to the sheep sometimes.


Intelligent woman artist aesthetic (lots of white).       


A while ago I desperately wanted to solder - lots and lots of soldering. And I thought, shit, what does this mean? Has all this other work I´ve been doing just been a means of getting me further in my metal work?  But then after a couple of weeks I stopped soldering and went back to the other pieces. This happens now and then - a metal lust - but it doesn´t worry me any more. Instead of glue I have solder, and instead of wood or plastic, etc I have metal, a whole different scene. The metal pieces I do now are very different than those I made a few years ago.


Chains, earrings, pendants, bracelets, rings. Brooches as decorative objects are pretty new in the history of jewellery. You hardly ever see them in the history books


It´s OK that my work doesn´t always make obvious sense as jewellery, and it´s OK that it may seem a bit wearable-small-sculpture-art-object. It´s interesting though to pull myself occasionally back into the jewellery issues and see what happens, though a break from the big jewellery questions is just as important.


Sometimes I try to pack lots of jewellery information into a piece, like recognisable forms from contemporary jewellery of the last 30 years. Geometry for example: triangles, squares, straight lines, formulas .- the little fluorescent triangle brooches from the 80´s. It wasn´t easy at first as I had no attraction whatsoever to geometry, but after a while it became familiar and it now belongs to my resource group. I met a sculptor who works in a similar way to me and has also looked at geometry, so perhaps as a maker you come to this at some stage anyway.



and jewellery just go together.


I made some pieces where the needle/brooch attachment was obvious from the front. 


That thing of just making what you want, going with the flow, doing what you "feel" like. At some point you´ve got to pull your head out and make some concrete decisions.


Spiders, insects, birds, nature, the older women who wear cheap, metal brooches on their coats. These are really the only kind of brooches that you regularly see.


I need to see work that´s 100% without a doubt or any question jewellery, and beautiful and interesting too (this doesn´t happen often).  I need to see jewellery that´s amazing, and be moved and influenced by it. 


At the age of 35 she knew she was good.


I´m not really a very good sewer, or solderer, or gluer, or goldsmith. In fact I´m not really a technical expert at anything.


A jeweller friend came to visit. He looked at my work and picked up a piece and said “Now this is jewellery, it reminds me of those army hanging medal type things that soldiers wear.“ (end of quote) You can work like this – making pieces of jewellery that hint at already existing things like badges, army medals, prize ribbons, etc. But I also want to make pieces that don´t fit any of these jewellery recipes, yet still make sense as jewellery.


I´m going to stop using glass beads for a while. I can´t handle all that attachment to the hippy craft shit.


A piece begins in the moment where I choose, buy, find or receive a material.


Hermann Jünger is amazing.


I need to make my work back in New Zealand again, I need to live there again.


(Conversation with Eva about a brooch of mine.) I started that bit there, but it was just a bit too pretty and nice, so I had to do that bit there, sort of wilder. But I don´t want the whole thing to look too crazy.


I don´t make special work for an exhibition, I just show where I´m at.


I´m involved in ongoing exhibitions and projects with Chicks On Speed. The first project was with Galerie Oona in Berlin who invited us to do a collaborative show together in 2003. I made jewellery over a few months for this first exhibition reacting to various aspects of the Chicks On Speed project. My work was influenced by things like - the clothing they produce, their constant use of their own image, the emails we sent each other, collection of materials from their offices, archive and workshop, their performances, their aesthetic, their history, their music, and so on. 


He did these beautiful drawings in a small book while being filmed for the documentary. Really strong and good. But his big paintings were like try-hard copies of this essence and quality the small drawings had, the bigness killed them too. This is what I mean about trying to stay amateur, fresh, at the beginning, keeping that essence, staying loose.   


You just gotta go blah, fuck, and then some good things can start to happen in the work.


This is really making jewellery. This is really falling slap bang into the jewellery issues, but in a way that keeps me interested.


Perhaps I should start making sculpture? Na, I´m too lazy and don´t have enough time - too much work researching all that sculpture history and stuff, jewellery is enough.


One thing I did was to make lots of small metal earrings. This feels good. Maybe they sell too, maybe they look good with my other pieces.


I want to buy more gold.


I worked with some materials from the rubbish bin in my workshop. I wouldn´t usually do this as for a material to actually reach the rubbish bin, really means it´s rubbish.


This is not just an accident.


I´ve started ignoring the direction a material may naturally push me in.


Can I use beach materials but make a modern piece that is not at all beach hippy?


I can´t be nasty anymore to all that stereo-typed girly, cutsy, horsey stuff that I used to despise, or the boysy, macho things like fighting figures, cars and monsters etc. After having my own child I´ve noticed how much kids love all that stuff.


I needed a break from the Chicks On Speed pieces, back to my own work. My colours are certainly darker, less glitzy and shiney. Their influence is still present though, can´t shake it off.


New Zealand jewellery.


Martin Kippenberger – I liked how his invitation cards and posters were like artworks and souvenirs of where he was at.


Bernhard Schobinger said “those poor young jewellers, everything´s been done already“


This necklace doesn´t really balance, it hangs at odd angles and disturbs you. It has good interesting things hanging off it though, so now to decide if it´s good, and then to decide if I should send it to that conservative jewellery gallery.


Someone once complained about a price for a piece “I could make that myself“ she said.


Such a kiwi girl.


The teddy bear stuffed fabric pieces are walking on dangerous ground – they speak about the organic, way out, overkilled aesthetic that I don´t like.


I don´t like that necklace, it looks too much like I had an idea.


The photographs in the exhibition were very beautiful, fine, balanced, and had quite a presence. They reminded me of a slow motion ballet dancer, or someone doing Tai Chi. I can appreciate their beauty, but recognise too that it´s not what I´m looking for in my work.


“his portraits and nudes are driven by the same dynamic, the same refusal of anything fixed or final“ – quote from an article by Philippe Dagen about Cezanne.


I embrace now the forms I have always known.


Maybe this piece is really good.


I come back to Munich after being saturated by New Zealand things, and find myself making work during the world cup about football and Germany.


That brooch has this odd kids figure in it that looks like something from the 70´s, and the bashed coloured nails have a 50´s look to them.  I´ve then put these together in a 2006 way.


I have more demands on how a piece should look now. The strength a finished piece has, it´s quality and presence have become more important than before.


One of those strange pointless projects an artist got funding for.


That thing of putting a certain colour somewhere, because you sense it should be that colour. After seeing that sculptors mediocre work I got totally put off working like that.


This is such a necklace.


I am my mother.


This bracelet looks like it´s been made by an experienced jeweller in their 40´s.


Setting an object in gold or silver is for me like the final crowning.


Decorating the decoration.


I´m so good.


When jewellers obsess too much about making good jewellery, their work dries up.


When Eva left the workshop she took her mirror, I can´t try my pieces on anymore it´s terrible, I must be a jeweller.


Warwick said he´d heard some of the stones at the Mineralian Tage looked fake, like someone had made them. I´ve made my own fake ones for him.


Sometimes you just have to try one of the biggies – like making a pearl necklace for example.


Everything is food for art.



Modes of Creation: Jewelry and Fashion, April 2010