Here is the transcript of the opening speech Ramona Barry gave at my exhibition last year:
Katherine Bowman Found Things (the Consolation of Consolations)
Earlier this week I spoke on the radio about Katherine’s show. I was yet to see it but was understandably effusive. I knew it was going to be something so special. Katherine’s approach has always been a thoughtful, mindful one.
Anyone who has been to her home/studio knows that she is the living and breathing embodiment of her work. I have long been envious of this focus, dedication and quiet drive to keep making and keep thinking, not just about her work but the environment around that work and how it sits in the world. That sense of seeing, and of searching is imbued in her work just as her work is imbued in her.
How thrilling for us all to see her produce an exhibition of wearable pieces. I always think of Katherine as an artist first and a jeweller second. Not secondary mind you, more that her artistic sensibility is at her core – as if her art were her heart and her jewellery her head and before us we see those to parts of Katherine express themselves as equals.
Katherine the jeweller has offered us insight into her practice, into her world of making. Given the opportunity as she has here with E G Etal, just what could she make, what could she offer up to us as votives and talismans? Across the world all cultures use jewellery and adornment as a way of marking occasions, be they rites of passage, or unexpected events. This is something that Katherine understands deeply.
Katherine the artist has given us a narrative. Before us we see a collection, one that looks as it has been amassed over a long and interesting life, one full of adventure and complexity. Who was this person that collected these things over time? Had they been gifts? Offerings from suitors? Congratulations on graduating, travelling, marrying, retiring, winning and losing? All the moments that life is made up of.
It is rare for people to invest in jewellery just because the love it. I only allow myself a purchase if the object can represent a moment in time. The pieces I have bought or were given 10 years ago I still wear and are timeless in many ways, but I have made them of my time. As soon as they become part of my life they have a place on that timeline. So the objects have two lives: one with the maker and one with the owner.
The work can just be. And then it can become something else entirely.
Congratulations Katherine, I’m sure I’m not alone in the hope that all of this making has inspired you to make even more. How wonderful for us all to take this moment to celebrate your work so far.