All About: The Handshake Project

Eleven artists challenge the convention of jewellery through the Handshake Project at Stanley Street Gallery.

Stanley Street Gallery presents the HANDSHAKE PROJECT, an initiative that brings together 11 New Zealand established and early career artists specialising in wearable art in an exhibition that connects to the context of jewellery and its traditions. 'MAKERS of Traditional Change - The Conventional Reformed' marks the HANDSHAKE PROJECT’s third exhibition at Stanley Street Gallery.

The premise for MAKERS of Traditional Change - The Conventional Reformed, is to respond to widely known jewellery traditions. Rendering new opportunities for contemporary wearable art, the artists have been asked to consider the physical, functional and cultural connotations related to traditional jewellery. By reinterpreting these modes, through unconventional materials and concepts, the artists ask the viewer or the wearer, to re-evaluate their preconceived ideas of why objects are worn.

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 offers two stages: the first stage is with a mentor followed up with a programme with specialised coaches. In the second stage, the mentor becomes their colleague and in some cases their collaborator. This allows the HS artist to develop themselves into independent makers. The series of exhibitions for each project are purpose made to inspire the natural progression of each maker’s work. Therefore no HANDSHAKE exhibition is the same.

The artists are: Becky Bliss, Caroline Thomas, Kelly McDonald, Kylie Sinkovich, Kristin D’Agostino, Lisa Higgins, Mandy Flood, Nik Hanton, Sandra Schmid, Sarah Walker-Holt, Vivien Atkinson.


“Within a century our planet is transformed on a massive scale by industrialization. While science is shouting at us, we continue to cling on to our ways of life as a right.

"In today's climate we are seeing rapid change to industries, our values and our way of life in response to global crises.

"My mourning jewellery looks at the historical moments of climatic change in relation to how economic growth contributed to the slow destruction of our planet.” 

Glenn Barkley ceramics. Photo by Leeroy T

Becky Bliss, Title 1940, 2020, Photo: Courtesy of the artist


“My body of work for The Conventional Reformed will be inspired by perhaps the most iconic form of jewellery, the faceted gemstone. Instead of working with jewels and setting them in a traditional setting, I will be concentrating on the negative space a gemstone leaves behind, a glittering void 'set' in an unexpected material. I will be playing with trompe l'oeil and asking questions about value, scale, the visible and the hidden, beauty, light and artifice.”

Glenn Barkley ceramics. Photo by Leeroy T

Caroline Thomas, Isambard, 2020, Photo: Courtesy of the artist


“Blurrily focussing around the edges of the ‘jewelleryness of jewellery’, this work aims for an aesthetic balance between art and craft, the wall and the body, and the gutter and high value.” 

Glenn Barkley ceramics. Photo by Leeroy T

Kelly McDonald, Honeymoon, 2020, Bangle, Photo: Courtesy of the artist


“My intention is to represent ‘the jewellery container’ as a metaphor for how the valuable is preserved, celebrated, revealed, or hidden; whilst elevating the container to an equal status with the object/s inside. Allegorically it alludes to the notion that the mortal human vessel as a container can be both a barrier and/or gateway to your own true being.” 

Glenn Barkley ceramics. Photo by Leeroy T

Kylie Sinkovich, Open Containment II, 2020, Container & Ring, Photo: Courtesy of the artist


In the most recent chapter of her Takeaway Series, D'Agostino investigates scale while playfully revisiting familiar math-based forms and recycled materials. This consideration of Nui (the Maori word for large) and Iti (small) led her down a path of component making. Incorporating forms from her drawing practice, Haumi (piece, addition, ally) was created. 

Glenn Barkley ceramics. Photo by Leeroy T

Kristin D’Agostino, Nui - Take Away, 2020, Brooch, Photo: Courtesy of the artist


“To mark an occasion, to match an outfit, to remember/honour those that have past, to signify wealth, patriotism or unity, to protect and/or embolden, to quietly or loudly express one’s self...”

"Caught in the space between old and new, LOT 35, melds transient fast fashion multiples with emotionally weighted heirloom treasures in an exploration of jewellery and the reasons WHY?”

Glenn Barkley ceramics. Photo by Leeroy T

Lisa Higgins, LOT 35 - Pink, 2020, Photo: Karl Pavelin


“What was deemed to be valuable is changing as individuals around the planet move to more ecologically friendly alternatives to traditional riches. No longer is jewellery just a diamond set in gold. As our personal values change people are investing in resources that were not previously seen of worth. With this, the concept of what qualifies as 'precious' is being altered." 

Glenn Barkley ceramics. Photo by Leeroy T

Nik Hanton, Go Big or Go Home, 2020, Photo: Courtesy of the artist



"Eyes closed; all I can see is void

"A void is considered to have no value or authority; it is described as empty, useless, worthless. This collection looks into the juxtaposition of material value and visual void.”

Glenn Barkley ceramics. Photo by Leeroy T

Sandra Schmid, Void, 2020, Ring, Photo: Courtesy of the artist


Influenced by traditional hand-drawn and drafting methods, that use structural and functional knowledge of materials, composition and wearability, Sarah Walker-Holt generates formative drawings that she then uses to produce distinctive jewellery. In an effort to comprehend and reinterpret the initial stage of drawing the pieces are taken from their drawn state through an impromptu rendering process of materials and techniques, at the bench, that allows for a less formal and liberal interpretation. 

Glenn Barkley ceramics. Photo by Leeroy T

Sarah Walker-Holt, Bunny, 2020, Brooch, Photo: Courtesy of the artist


Continuing her interest in the everyday routines of past domestic life, in this work Atkinson looks at the practice of darning. Clothing and textiles were not always the throw-away commodities they have become today, darning, mending and patching were the means to prolonging the life of these items. Aware also of the damage done by brooch pins, she mends the holes using vintage gold threads to create a new ‘brooch’ that subverts the idea of jewellery’s mobility. 

Glenn Barkley ceramics. Photo by Leeroy T

Vivien Atkinson, Darn 2 (detail), 2020, Brooch, Photo: Courtesy of the artist

'Makers of Traditional Change' is on at Stanley Street Gallery until 23 October 2020. See details on how to visit here.

Images at the top: Sandra Schmid, Void, 2020, Ring, Photo: Courtesy of the artist; Becky Bliss, Title 1940, 2020, Photo: Courtesy of the artist