Photography / Editorial / Print

What jewellery will look like in the  future, what kind of materials will be used and its associated value perceptions, are themes which permeate the work of Katrin Spranger. "I always try to push the boundaries of what jewellery can be, researching and exploring the beauty of rare materials." Spranger trained in traditional jewellery as a goldsmith in different studios in Lübeck and Hamburg, Germany, before going on to diploma studies at HAWK, University of Applied Science and Arts, Hildesheim, Germany. She tells us the turning point, in terms of the conceptual aspects of her most recent designs were from living and studying in Sweden, completing her MFA studies at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm. "At Konstfack I started to think about future materials, we use gold, silver, precious metals because they are rare. Along the same lines, thinking crude oil will also become such a valuable commodity through over consumption."

Spranger tries to create an emotion when wearing the jewellery, "not just hang it on or worn, but to have an experience with it." The pieces made from crude oil and gold in Best Before are "not just adorned like an ornament but have a feeling, like with an ice, you feel the cold. Melting oil has a strong smell, it is visual and changes."  The source of the crude used in the work was from a farmer she got in touch with who had a field with crude oil bubbling up. It was collected and "solidified with paraffin, another crude oil product, then shaped with silicon rubber moulds, slip cast. This was then combined with gold, gilding with gold leaf on the outside of a base of plastic." 

The jewellery pieces are developed with shapes referring to disposable goods, reflecting our consumer culture today, "melting at body temperature over time, with the piece eventually disappearing, like it is depleting". She worked with a fashion designer and together, super bright and white clothing becomes discoloured with the oil. All that remains is the skeletal framework. Ongoing from this, Spranger is in the middle of making a small wearable collection. It conveys a message of something going away, escaping. We learn that Spranger combined gold with oil because both have common characteristics. Acting as symbols for power and wealth, gold has been consequently treasured for its everlasting properties whereas oil has been valued for its endless consuming abilities. Mining gold and extracting crude oil both cause severe environmental problems and sometimes even human violence such as war.

New to Cockpit Arts, London, where she is now based, "I like the business development here, the coaching aspects. It is an affordable studio space, library, education spaces, workshops. I  am also new in the city and country, so still building up my network." Speaking of this, we discuss the internal networks in the human body, as seen with her work Human insides, "the initial staring point is that my husband is a medical doctor, so when I saw his anatomy books and photographs, at first I was super disgusted, but then found it very interesting. I felt it was something more people should know about, the limitations of the human body, it is not a like for like representation, but my interpretation of the form. Tumour and Growth." It presents an imaginative and decorative view of the inside of the human body, expressing the different faces of life until death and the transitoriness of individuals.

She has also worked with honey in collaboration with Prang Lerttaweewit  and had a recent edible jewellery installation, CCD#1: Barter, at Bucks ’N Barter, Munich. Showing me the material, "it does not smell of Honey, however, it immerses people, getting a dialogue going about bee colony decline, discussion is quite important to me. If the Honey bees die away, we will loose a whole food chain."  The work questions the conventional value perception of honey, trading off between the possession of a jewellery and the pleasure of savouring. Conservation and environmental crisis are key driving forces behind her practise, "it comes from my time in Sweden, which is very advanced in terms of environmental impact and such concerns. If I look at my field, many jewellers are quite occupied or in their own little world, inspired by pebble stones found on the beach, everything is pretty. It is introverted, protected. We don't deal with political or environmental issues which concern everyone."

Interview and studio portraits: Nardip Singh
Artwork Images provided by artist / Copyright © Katrin Spranger

Jeweller interview as featured in Unfolded Magazine Issue 14

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