The Workshop – Workshop theory and workshop practise

By Grit Becher (in the catalog 30 Jahre ERFURTER SCHMUCKSYMPOSIUM)


How many words must be said about a workshop in order to express one’s appreciation for it’s existence?

A well-equipped workshop is a necessary requirement in the process of any creation. A space becomes even more important for such a jewellery symposium because this is the space where ideas materialise.

The workshop is a reliable place, always present and always ready to receive the artist. It is the place where the artistic object of jewellery evolves. Here one plans, designs, builds, experiments, rejects, re-invents in a process of consideration, evaluation, the sense of perception, to encounter oneself and someone else through work of oneself and others. This process creates an interdependency between practice to theory to practice –  usque ad finem – similar to a hermeneutic or better heuristic circle.

This isn‘t circular reasoning however, because the conclusion is logical and consequently materialises itself in the most beautiful form. Here matter becomes art, here human becomes artist ­– always with the intention to know more and sometimes to know when to finish. It‘s because of this that ten participants of a jewellery symposium gather for two weeks to work on one common task.

The mentioned significance of the workshop depends on the equipment and the possibility of ceaseless use. The „Künstlerwerstätten Erfurt“ (Artists Workshop Erfurt), an institution of the Erfurt city administration, exists as such since 1977 and was used as former ”Office for Architecture-related Art of the Erfurt District Council of People‘s Deputies“. Since 1991 it is the communal Erfurt Artists Workshop.

From 1984 until 1992 the first five ERFURTER SCHMUCKSYMPOSIUM took place at the private studios of goldsmiths Helmut Senf (Auenstraße), Uta Feiler (Nordstraße) and Rolf Lindner (Moritzstraße) with nine participants.

In cooperation with Herbert Schönemann, the former head of the office for museums and exhibitions, Heidi Bierwisch and Bettina Wolf the promoters  took initiative and built the workshop complex with commitment and profound knowledge between 1991 an 1993. Ever since the international jewellery symposia are taking place at this artists workshop Erfurt.

The artists workshop also hosts the International Enamel Symposia (2013 – 15. International Enamel Symposium) and is open for jewellery artists, gold-smiths, enamel artist, artists in other genre, creatives, students and apprentices.

The combination of a goldsmith studio with ten specific work spaces, big studio space and an enamel workshop, including a kiln making large surface enamelling possible. Additional studio and working spaces underline the unique position of this workshop in Germany.

At the 6th ERFURTER SCHMUCKSYMPOSIUM taking place in 1994 Katrin Lucas (D/CH) was the first „Goldsmith in Residence“ in the City of Erfurt who found her sphere of activity at the goldsmith‘s workshop. From 1996 to 2013 Brigitte Moser, Karl Fritsch, Masako Hamaguchi, Katja Korsawe, Felix Lindner, Helen Britton, Volker Atrops and Nora Rochel became goldsmith in residence in succession.

Since 2010 every three years the title of a gold-smith in residence, including a stipend, is awarded by the city council of Erfurt. The statute of the ERFURTER SCHMUCKSYMPOSIUM implies the participation of the former goldsmith in residence at the following symposium.

This workshop situation is specific and unusual from the personal studio. Individuals, ideas and opinions collide and brush with each other. It creates a setting of high attention and deep concentration – engrossed, still full aware – and allows a creative process of rejection and redefinition on a way in unknown territory – in search of a jewellery object with experimental expression.

The workshop as a space of work and experiment opens dimensions in which working along each other creates an intense shared experience. A range of framework programs like workshops, open talks, colloquia and lectures add to the symposia and enable growth of knowledge amongst artists as well as recipients. Finally thought and word manifest in material.

Thanks to all who made this 15th ERFURTER SCHMUCKSYMPOSIUM possible in it‘s 30th anniversary 2014 and who set a foundation for experiment, result, and recognition on a international level in jewellery design.