KILKENNY.- The National Design & Craft Gallery
in Kilkenny celebrates an icon of Irish craft and design with Rudolf Heltzel: In Precious Metal, a spectacular exhibition of sculptural pendants by the master goldsmith. Rudolf Heltzel has gained an international reputation for the originality, quality and timeless aesthetic of his craftsmanship with each piece created meticulously by hand using some of the worlds oldest jewellery techniques. This exhibition showcases many of his most ambitious and technically complex designs, presenting pieces selected from his personal archive alongside new work in three of his sculptural pendant collections Rock Crystal, Tourmaline Butterfly and Druzy. Heltzel will also deliver a lecture, The Arduous Road to the Creation of a Jewel, on Saturday 3 February in the Gallery.
For Heltzel, jewellery making is part of a living cultural heritage and he takes inspiration from the history, mythology and symbolism of precious metals and stones. He is renowned for pushing to the limits the design and technical skills of precious jewellery making, using traditional techniques to produce a modern aesthetic. Carefully selected unique and extraordinary precious gemstones form the basis of his stunning sculptural designs in 18ct gold, sterling silver and platinum. Settings are carefully designed to show individual stones to their best advantage. His distinctive designs are collectors items, with four generations owning and wearing Rudolf Heltzel.
Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, said: Rudolf Heltzel came to Ireland in the late 60s and set up his studio at the Kilkenny Design Workshops. It is to our benefit that he not only produces incredibly beautiful jewellery but keeps the traditional skills of jewellery-making alive by passing his knowledge on to the next generation of makers in this country and beyond. He is inspirational and rightfully recognised throughout the world for his exquisite craftsmanship, unique pieces and stunning collections. We are very proud to host this exhibition to celebrate his wonderful work and to give visitors an opportunity to see the creations of this master craftsman.
Originally from Berlin, Germany, Heltzel was invited to Ireland in 1966 by Córas Tráchtála/Irish Export Board. He set up and led the trail-blazing gold and silver studio-workshops at the Kilkenny Design Workshops. In 1968, he established his own workshop in Kilkenny where he, his son Christopher, their employees and apprentices still work today. Heltzel has won countless accolades throughout his 50 years in the business, including One of the Worlds Greatest Gem Houses by the Franklin Mint. He has exhibited widely and sold through retail establishments such as Neiman Marcus. He is a consultant to the jewellery industry, having worked and mentored across the globe, and has directly trained many goldsmiths working in the field today. He has also been instrumental in establishing training opportunities for jewellery makers, keeping ancient traditional skills alive.
Coinciding with the Heltzel exhibition at the National Design & Craft Gallery from 2nd February will be Bounded + Unlimited: Contemporary Jewellery, an exhibition of exceptional jewellery and goldsmithing by four contemporary jewellery artists from Ireland and China. It explores the parallel working practices of these makers across design, techniques and materials from the perspective of differing cultural contexts. The title refers to how the artists are bound by their respective personal and national cultural experiences, yet unlimited in opportunities for communication and understanding through the traditions of their craft. The two Irish jewellery artists represented are Eimear Conyard, manager of DCCoIs Jewellery and Goldsmithing Skills & Design Course and a practicing contemporary jewellery artist, and Christopher Heltzel of the long-established and renowned Rudolf Heltzel studio. The jewellery artists from China are Hu Jun, a professor of Jewellery Design at Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, and Binyu Chen, a lecturer in jewellery design at the School of Art of Beijing City University. All four are internationally recognised makers and have extensive experience within jewellery and goldsmithing education.
Throughout the run of both exhibitions, there will be many opportunities to learn more about jewellery making, including a lecture on modern jewellery design and processes by Rudolf Heltzel; an afternoon with Christopher Heltzel talking about engagement rings; jewellery-making workshops; family days; late dates and a film screening.