My visit to Katherine Bowman’s Melbourne studio last month was a pilgrimage of sorts. Emails organizing the where and when of our meeting had been exchanged weeks in advance but when the day finally arrived I have to say I felt excited and just a tad nervous about it at the same time. Such was the buildup to being face to face with one of my instagram idols and a real practicing gold and silversmith.
Bowman’s studio/home is well hidden on a quiet street in one of Melbourne’s inner city suburbs. My husband and I and our two friends had taken a train and a tram and then walked several blocks to find it using my phone’s GPS. When we arrived at the location there was no signage indicating that a thriving jewellery business operated beyond the unassuming shop front with its metal flywire door and sandblast film window.
Beyond that flywire screen door Katherine and her sweet little dog Kiki welcomed me into the all white consultation area with its dining-sized wooden table and a simple up-cycled metal cabinet displaying her unique ceramic sculptures. The space was filled with soft music and and the scent of incense and I felt more at ease thanks to Katherine’s gentle manner and an almost spiritual approach to her work. She’s interested in ‘how we imbue an object with meaning and the consequent relationship the object has with the body it adorns’. So where I simply make pieces, Katherine gives anything she crafts a name and a purpose.
Let’s just say that my heart started to beat faster when she placed 3 black velvet sample cases in front of me. Kind of like the proverbial kid in a candy store scenario. Oh my! I wanted ALL of her rings and ALL of the gorgeous Australian stones she uses but after some discussion I commissioned a ring which she was able to have ready 2 weeks later before our flight back to Canada…sterling silver with a 3mm Australian parti sapphire called a ‘Journey Keepsake Protection’ ring which I’m thrilled with…
Now, abit about Katherine who obtained a Bachelor of Arts with a Double Major in Fine Art History from the University of Melbourne (1988 -1991) and a degree with Honours in Gold and Silversmithing at RMIT (2001). She was given an Australian Post Graduate Award and completed a Master of Arts through RMIT as well. She’s also been teaching goldsmithing and silversmithing there since 2011 and is a founding member of Northcity4 which supports the Australian contemporary jewellery community (which would be cool if I lived in Melbourne).