Katherine Bowman starting making jewellery as a child, using tools she found in her Dad’s garage. Much later, she went on to study Fine Art History at Melbourne University, and then Gold and Silversmithing at RMIT, where she now teaches.
Even to the casual observer, tactility is key to Katherine’s work. She says that it is an essential ingredient for her. “I think that sense of touch allows people to make their own stories with the work or about the work. I think that’s the whole point of making, to have a response from a person.”
It is this hand-made quality that is also one of the things that inspires her about jewellery from older times and places, including ancient Roman, early Egyptian and pre-Cycladic art. She loves that it looks like it is handmade, inclusive of tool marks and its process, and that the imperfection inherent in the handmade is what makes it perfect.
Her choice of materials is based on their aesthetic value, and while she chooses gold for much of her work, the choice is based on its colour and luminosity as much as for its inherent value. She also likes to use a collection of stones in one piece, “because there is never just one side to any story. And different stories contain different things, like fragments of songs and smells and other things that cannot be explained in just one way.” She likes how the idea continues to grow with the wearer. From her most recent collection ‘Journeys’, she states “Jewellery is like a travelling story; it collects vignettes and memories as an individual wears each piece.”
“I try and make something new look like it’s old, like it has an energy and life of its own that came through its own creation. That is very important to me. There’s so much jewellery in the world, but there’s only one me. The jewellery I make comes from everything that I know. Hopefully the end result carries some of that.”
Shifting mediums with ease, Katherine Bowman is a drawer and painter, and sculptor too. Of course, her illustrations for jewellery designs are stunning.