Shopping

Accessorising is the new art: Karl Fritsch retrospective rings the changes

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Posted
Ring in silver, iron, smoky quartz, synthetic spinel and synthetic zirconia, (2009), Karl Fritsch

Manchester Art Gallery’s latest exhibition is all about wearable artworks.

“If I had to describe Karl Fritsch’s work in one word, I would define it as anarchic,” says Jo Bloxham, curator of the contemporary jeweller’s new exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. And I’m liable to agree; for starters, unless you’re a Lalique collector, since when was jewellery art? Well, actually, that’s where I’m wrong. Bloxham explains: “Over the last 30 years there has been a movement within the jewellery world which has pushed the boundaries of what is possible to achieve within this practice. This has led to work being produced that has a narrative – a conceptual element to it. Jewellery should excite, surprise, intrigue and stand alone. There are many successful jewellery galleries across Europe and beyond showcasing this form of avant-garde jewellery, but sadly the UK hasn’t picked up on it.”

Jewellery should excite, surprise, intrigue and stand alone – but the UK hasn’t picked up on this

As if to prove the point, while Karl Fritsch has exhibited his jewellery from the States to Japan, and has work in many gallery and museum collections (such as Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam), this is his first UK solo exhibition. And while accessories as art might be news to us, this retrospective serves as an impressive introduction to a career that has spanned two decades.  But back to the anarchy Jo Bloxham alluded to: Fritsch’s practice is to rebel against his craftsmanship. “As a trained goldsmith, Karl has taken his technical skills and used them to achieve a way of expressing his personality,” she says. “I particularly like the naive honesty of the pieces; the fingerprints and evidence of the making process are part of the concept.”

Others have spoken of a kind of “reverse alchemy”. Where alchemy takes base metals and attempts to turn them into gold, Fritsch takes precious materials – including diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds – and almost degrades them through processes such as oxidisation and by combining them with worthless “found objects”, such as rusty screws. A kind of most-modern upcycling, if you like. The results are unique and often quite bizarre: glittering gems piled high on a tin-can-ring-pull-a-like; tarnished ornate offerings that look as if they were trawled from the bottom of the sea. Some rings are miniature sculptures (though massive fingerwear!), including a roaring Godzilla-type lizard and a huge, jewel-encrusted bronze cow. On the other hand (sorry), there are more saleable “bread and butter pieces”, as Bloxham calls them. I fawned over a beautifully balanced piece, with a pink rhodochrosite stone in a traditional round gold setting, though at £1,365 it is slightly beyond my freelancer wages. Oh yes, most items are available to buy; if something in particular catches your eye, just exit through the gift shop and let a member of staff know…

Culture Guides

Image courtesy of HOME

Cinema

Cinemas around the North are putting on their festive hats this month but don’t worry, there’s plenty going on even if you aren’t into the whole Christmas thing.

Intervention 15 by Edward Krasinski

Exhibitions

100 artists feature in an exhibition celebrating the Bluecoat’s 300th anniversary, Edward Krasinksy is a surprise hit at Tate Liverpool and Manchester Museum looks at a world without bees. Our top exhibitions in Manchester and the North.

Credit Karen Wright

Families

It may be blinkin cold but The Whitworth’s Frost Fair will warm your cockles, as will some tip top theatrical family classics – but not as you know ’em.

kulning

Literature

Plenty of festive fun, including some seasonal storytelling in Manchester and Liverpool, then much to add to your lily-white 2017 diary…

La Vie Parisienne

Music

As the days get shorter, Manchester’s music calendar gets busier – with the city’s music venues burst from the seams with live music for you to enjoy.

COAL

Theatre

We’re breaking this month’s theatre picks into grit and glam. Glam because it’s the season of shiny, sparkly things, ­and grit because, well, we’re Northern after all.

Destination Guides

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
COAL
Dance 07–08 December 2016 , from £10.00

Gary Clarke Company: COAL at Contact Theatre

Film Season: Fade To Black – Generations
Cinema 25 November–09 December 2016 , from £5.00

Film Season: Fade To Black – Generations

Feed Me - Image courtesy of Rachel Maclean
Cinema 03–13 December 2016 , from £7.00

Film Season: I’m Too Happy

scouseacomedyofterrorscreditdavidmunn3
Theatre 17 November–15 December 2016 , from £7.00

Scouse: a Comedy of Terrors

Michael Rosen - Image courtesy of Z-Arts
Families 17 September–17 December 2016 , from £7.00

Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake & Bad Things at Z-arts

Benji Reid: A Thousand Words
Exhibitions 22 September–17 December 2016 , FREE

Benji Reid: A Thousand Words

La Vie Parisienne
Music 07–17 December 2016 , from £21.00

La Vie Parisienne

Photo of the festive display outside the Corn Exchange
Food and Drink 10 November–20 December 2016 , FREE

Manchester Christmas Markets

timisherwood
Exhibitions 24 November–21 December 2016 , FREE

Tim Isherwood: Please Use The Intercom

Find Rudolph
Families 26 November 2016–02 January 2017 , FREE

Find Rudolph

Tim Etchells, Lets Pretend (Large) (2014), installation view, Grundy Art Gallery. Photo: Phill Heywood, courtesy Grundy Art Gallery.
Exhibitions 01 September 2016–07 January 2017 , FREE

NEON: The Charged Line at the Grundy Art Gallery