Bron. Ruudt Peters interviewed by Klimt02

Interview  /  Artists   Exhibiting   BehindTheScenes   CarolinDenter
Published: 05.10.2017
Ruudt Peters Ruudt Peters
Carolin Denter
Edited by:
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Ruudt Peters. Brooch: Dusza, 2016. Glass, silver, polyester, graphite.. 14.2 x 14.2 x 0.8 cm. Ruudt Peters
Brooch: Dusza, 2016
Glass, silver, polyester, graphite.
14.2 x 14.2 x 0.8 cm
© By the author. Read Copyright.

In this interview, we talked with Ruudt Peters about his path as maker and his retrospective exhibition, BRON (Source). BRON gives an overview of Peters’ rebellious jewellery from the early seventies to the more profound works based on the exploration of other cultures, customs and habits from a more recent period. His work is exhibited in a special multimedia installation that offers a unique view on his oeuvre.
When did you begin your Artistic pursuits? Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as an artist?
I am trained as a medical instrument maker. I finished my education, but when I looked around and I saw my fellow colleague instrument makers, I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a dull environment. From that moment, I stepped out and started an education at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. Because of the medical instrument background, I chose the field of jewellery: similar in its small scale and technical precision.

How did you become serious about becoming a jewelry artist?
After I finished my study at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie as a jeweller, I moved into sculpture. For 10 years I made really big sculptures. I wasn’t interested in the textile movement of the jewellery scene in The Netherlands at that time. In 1986 I made an agreement with Marie-José van den Hout (owner of Marzee gallery in Nijmegen) that I would make jewellery for 3 months each year, and the other 9 months I could spend on making sculpture. The end result was that I started to make jewellery and I didn’t stop since. Jewellery became my passion. I can express myself clearly and in a broader way by making jewellery. The 10 years of making big sculptures isn’t ‘wasted’ time though. It guided me to another perception of jewellery, and a visual language within my work.

Ruudt Peters, Bracelet: Capital Corner, 1983, Screened formica, steel.

Was there a feeling at the beginning of your career, that you were doing something important and new, making a change...?
In the beginning, baby Ruudt didn’t have any idea about the world. I made technical instrument-like jewellery in series. It suited the trend of the time. This systematic way of working fit perfectly into the way of making jewellery in the Netherlands in the 1970s, but I didn’t have the feeling that I made a difference in the jewellery world. Just after 1986, began an intrinsic personal approach and view on what jewellery had to be (for me).

Was there an audience for your work at the time – and if so what was their reaction to it?
In 1973, I started a gallery of jewellery in the northern part of the Netherlands. I was selling my own work and the work of other jewellery designers. There was an audience, but there was not enough money to make a living from the gallery. In 1973, as a student at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, I was invited to take part in the Serie Sieraad, the main goal being to reach a broader audience by making more affordable jewellery. For this series, I designed a (later to become iconic) bracelet and sold it also to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Looking backwards, it was not very fortunate to have that much attention at the beginning of my career when I was still a student. It would have been much better to struggle first instead of having instant success on the first series of jewellery I made.

Ruudt Peters, Ring: Squeeze, 1973, Acrylic, rubber.

Looking back at these works, what you do think about them now?
It is very interesting to look back at the 1970s and see the circle of time has developed as an Ouroboros, an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail. Life is repeating itself, the same aspects come back, but on a higher level and with a deeper meaning. You add extra layers. The 1970s, for me, was clarity and design without meaning. My work of 2017 is clear to, it has a certain purity, but with meaning and depth.

You will show work from the past 44 years in the upcoming „Bron“ exhibition at the CODA Museum. How would you describe the content of this “Retrospective” ?
In the last 44 years, I have made a number of very different types of installations, each serving as the culmination of that particular series of work. In BRON I try to bring everything together in an interdisciplinary multi-media presentation. The visitor will be immersed in a dream world of galaxy, dreams, micro vs macro cosmos and bubbling sources. My inspiration throughout these years.

The various jewels are presented in tailor made glass capsules. They connect with each other and together form a fluid process of successive events and sources of inspiration. Cause and effect. Action and reaction. Fall and rise. Uncertainty. Discovery. Curiosity. Source! Art historians, museum directors, jewellers, students, wearers and collectors gave their view on a particular work or a collection, which is edited into short movies. The movies are activated by scanning a QR code attached to the glass capsule. They allow the visitor to form a vivid impression and gather background information about the jewellery.

You make repeated references to alchemy, mythology and Eastern religions. What does adding these belief systems and symbols into your work bring?
It is the opposite. Alchemy, nature, the human body, beauty, the subconscious, intuition, spirituality, and sexuality; everything has been a source of inspiration and was the beginning of a quest for me. My starting point is curiosity in the essence and mystery of our existence. My work is about this search. It is falling down and standing up, vulnerability, not knowing and looking for an answer. It is this insecurity and uncertainty that makes it happen. That is my biggest source of inspiration. I immerse myself in unfamiliar subjects, cultures and materials. From there I observe and develop my jewellery, which is not a literal translation of what my eyes see, but a continuous inducement to connect with my own essence. My jewellery is a creation and internalization of my thoughts and imagination, which penetrates to the core of our identity and our existence.

Ruudt Peters, Necklace: Nero, 2008, Glass, wood.

I'd like to hear about what it's been like figuring out how to translate your traveling experiences into this physical objects?
I choose unpleasant travelling places, destinations I don’t know and which confront me with my Dutch ‘cheese head’, my Dutch nationality and my height (2 meters). In Japan, I banged my head all the time. Both physically as well as mentally you meet and confront yourself in other cultures. You also realize how deeply Christianity is interwoven in our existence. Even when we are mixed with the Islam, Christianity is still very dominant. We breathe Christianity in the western world even though we would like to think we don’t. When you are in Asia for example, you notice how much of a Christian you actually are and how your way of thinking is influenced by it. Even European atheists are fed with Christianity and are in a way Christians themselves compared to people in Asia.

To go back to your question: It is not possible to transfer the essence of life into an object, only when you find a universal language within yourself where you can find a link with society. It is magic. Sometimes people say you are on thin ice. With the corpus series, I did something challenging. I put question marks on certain subjects that were not questioned before. It is finding the balance between private and public life.

Can you walk us through your process of making? How does the work take shape from the initial idea to the finished work?
I search for places that confront and might inspire me. From those places and cultures, a spark arises in my head. A simple thing. For example, my feet and the feet of Shiva. Next is that I want to know everything about feet. Later I understand that feet are a very important part of our body, the energy streams, they are the connection between us and mother earth. I start with making blind drawings to throw everything away the next moment. I burn my sketchbooks. After that I start to work in 3d and the next phase is work, work, work. Falling down and standing up. It is a process in itself. It is a search in itself.

Where do you see your work heading in the future? Do you have any specific projects you’ve been wanting to pursue?
I never have dreams of things I would like to pursue. I don’t make plans. I place myself in a certain situation and then things happen. It is more a history of situations than a history of dreams.

What do you find most rewarding about your career? What do you hope to accomplish?
It is great to see that a lot of people trust me and support me in my work and make it possible for me to do the things I love. It is also very rewarding that many people want to join me and be a part of my journey. My interns love to work with me and see the process of working in jewellery.
All the people who have trust in the BRON exhibition and support me via crowdfunding is literally heart-warming. Without their trust and support there would be no retrospective exhibition.
I hope to accomplish showing that jewellery is not girlish, but big and bold. Jewellery is big in every sense of the word. Jewellery is a small world, but you can transfer it to a bigger world with a broader meaning.

Have you ever had a moment when you questioned your career entirely? 

Anything else you'd like everyone to know about?
It is all about genes. It is very interesting to see that as a person, you are just a micron different from your parents. As a person, you are a mix of your parents and their genes mix into your children and their children, and so on. When I look at my own hands, I see my Daddy, working as a carpenter, building furniture. Small differentiation in genes, but on the other hand it is very beautiful to see that you are a part of this life. A part of your own timeline. Life is a family tree. it is very interesting to see where you come from. It is about trees and they have roots. Did you know that trees can make music?

About the Interviewee

Ruudt Peters, 1950, Naaldwijk / Netherlands. Artist that lives and works in Amsterdam, Stockholm and Ravenstein. Studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and has works at the following collections: Houston Museum, Staatliches Museum für angewandte Kunst Design in Pinakothek der Moderne, Munchen, Danner Foundation, Munchen, Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim, Museum Het Kruithuis, Den Bosch, Musee des Arts Decorative, Paris, RISD Museum, Providence, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Cooper Hewitt, Design Museum, New York,  Anger Museum Erfurt, Hiko Mizuno Art School, Tokyo, Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Vienna, Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art.

About the author

Carolin completed her training as Goldsmith at Master School for Craftsmen in Kaiserslautern in 2013. In 2015 she made an Internship at Klimt02, where she is working since 2016 as Content Manager. In 2017 she graduated as Bachelor of Fine Arts in Gemstone and Jewellery at Univeristy of Applied Science Trier, Campus Idar-Oberstein. After her graduation she started working  part time as Marketing and Designmanagement Assistance at Campus Idar-Oberstein in the Gemstone and Jewellery Departement.