Ute Decker was born in Germany in 1969 and grew up in a family of winemakers, surrounded by nature and working closely with it. The artist’s childhood observations of humanity’s interaction with the natural environment developed into a life-long meditation on the subject. One of the first of twenty jewellers in the world to work with traceable Fairtrade Gold, Decker’s goldsmith practice is informed by her education and past career in political economics. The mindful and conscientious approach which governs the artist’s choice of materials also guides the aesthetics and concepts of her work. Inspired by her studies of Zen philosophy and Non-Western cosmologies, Ute Decker views the meditated harmony of her jewels as an anti-dote to the frenetic world outside of her studio.
The artist’s handmade jewellery pieces showcase an exceptional technical prowess in the medium of goldsmithing. The jeweller notes, “I probably have less tools than a goldsmith would have two thousand years ago”. When working in the highly intricate technique of precious metal wire-twisting, Decker repeatedly creates the same maquette of a future piece until the process becomes muscle memory and the artist is able to create the sculptural jewel in one single, swift motion. Decker’s mastery of the complex and labour-intensive technique of anti-clastic metal-forming leads the jeweler to enliven sheets of solid precious metal with silk-like ripples, which she achieves by using a heavy stake to create tension at the centre-point of her working material. The artist deliberately chooses the more contemplative methods of jewellery-making, giving her work its recognisable feeling of thought-through completeness and illusionary movement.
Recognised internationally as an artist who is shaping the landscape of contemporary jewellery, Ute Decker’s jewellery pieces have been acquired by prominent public collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Swiss National Museum in Zurich, the Musee Barbier-Mueller in Geneva, and the Spencer Museum of Art in Kansas. The acclaimed artist has given lectures about her unique approach to jewellery-making at industry-leading institutions, including the The Society of Jewellery Historians in London, The Goldsmith’s Centre in London and SNAG (The Society of North American Goldsmiths).
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