03 October 2019

Words of Wisdom: Katherine Bowman

When Katherine recently launched her collection of individual rings, Goddess Songs, with Pieces of Eight Gallery, the response was overwhelming. As one of Australia’s most revered contemporary artists, jewellers and mentors, Katherine brings with her a wealth of knowledge and a very distinct approach to her practice.

Here are some of the learnings we took away from a recent ‘in conversation’ artist talk with Katherine, at the Gallery in Melbourne.


She’s both an artist and a jeweller

I come from the world of art theory and cultural theory and I also did English literature, and so that's where I started from,” she says. It was only later that she undertook studies in gold and silversmithing.

“The world of fine arts has been really instrumental for me: I think you can't look to what you know, because you don't learn anything. So, if I go somewhere that is uncomfortable or unknown, there's more [energy inherent in what I create].”


Her artistic process always begins with words

“It started off with my first degree. Whenever I got an essay question, I'd pull out the significant words and look them up in the dictionary. As soon as you start doing that, it suggests another word [which] leads on to something else. So, if I'm starting a new body of work, there will be words floating in my head. I write those words down. Once I understand what that word means, it will suggest where I need to go for research for that subject.

“[Now] I get my students to look up significant words and see how they respond to that understanding, looking at the definition… not just [as] an end, it's a starting point.”


She does not design for fashion’s sake

“My practice moves between materials and processes according to my subject. I don't really make fashion ranges,” says Katherine. Goddess Songs while it is a unified collection of pieces, comes from “an idea exploration”, she says.

“Goddess Songs is solely a reflection of what I think is significant about jewellery. Goddess Songs is about the everyday and the sacred. Like talismans and amulets, people need something to believe in, or hold onto, or to walk through life with. For me that is the significance of jewellery… not its monetary value.” 

Browse Katherine’s range of contemporary jewellery online.