Julia Walter

January 16, 2020

Julia Walter is a jeweler based in Amsterdam with family roots in Europe and Hawaii. She studied jewelry & design in Portugal and Germany and graduated from the University of Applied Arts in Pforzheim (Germany) in 2007. Her work is regularly exhibited in Europe and the USA. Julia is co-founder of the collaborative workspace Studio 3000 in Amsterdam.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

Hi, my name is Julia Walter, i am a jeweler based in Amsterdam and the mother of a ten year old girl. I work in my own studio and sometimes teach at art academy.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on?

My show CAMPING WITH FRIENDS opened past November, it is an installation of wearable pieces as well as objects, which can be carried, played or placed in a space. I worked with a variety of materials: rings out of hand-cut stone, earrings made of canvas and paint, pendants made of stone-pigment, egg shaped rattles made of clay, tie-dyed silk ponchos with applied symbols of gold leaf. The ponchos are hybrids between tent, cloud and ceremonial garment and even function as flags. I am interested in ad-hoc-situations, how one can create space with no, or limited material, how people engage in unplanned encounters and what it needs to create a ceremony. (CAMPING WITH FRIENDS was first on show at Marzee, the gallery specialized in contemporary jewelry based in the Netherlands.)

An ongoing project is a collaboration with my two studio mates, we organize a reoccurring show in our space in Amsterdam, called Studio3000. Since 2016 we host one Summer- and one Wintersalon per year, to which we invite jewelers and artists from other fields to present their work together with us. It´s a great moment for us to exchange ideas with other artists, mingle with the neighborhood and invite interested jewelry and art aficionados to get a peak into our workshop and process – and for them to get their hands on exclusive work, sometimes especially made for these occasions. It often ends in a casual party.

left to right: fresco pendant, 2019, wood, plaster, lapis lazuli stone pigment, leather string, 22 x 15 x 2 cm | poncho, 2019, blue dyed silk, cotton mix, gold leaf, 100 x 140 cm

How did your interest in art and design begin?

I grew up in the countryside of south Germany with allot of animals. My mom is a trained graphic designer, so me and my sisters grew up looking at moms brushes, pens, inks, papers, art books .. and had a small menagerie around us. My mother has an inventive mind and was always a creative improviser when it came to practical stuff. I early on learned from her, how to work and reuse materials that are already around and transform them into something useful or artistic… (its still hard to throw things away, even if something is broken or ragged – it’s materiality could still serve for another purpose in the future)

What artists or designers are you interested in right now?

I admire artists with political backbone who are able to combine art and activism. The actions of the group „Zentrum für politische Schönheit“ are important signals in the political landscape of Germany/Europe right now. I see them in succession of the late theater/ filmmaker and performance artist Christoph Schlingensief who was a genius. Role-play and reflection on identity and society i find intriguing, i am into female video artists and performers like Candice Breitz, Cindy Sherman, Peaches, Valie Export.. But yeah, deep in my heart i am an old school lover of sculpture and painting, i think thats what i feel strongest for because i can directly relate to it from my perspective as a maker of objects. I feel empathy with form and color. I am getting soft and feel the sheer power of the artist transforming materiality into spirituality when i see a sculpture by Brancusi. I was obsessed with the Dadaists, the Surrealists, the Expressionists, when i was a teenager – and am still infected today. Hannah Höch, Hans Arp, Constantin Brancusi and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner were my heroes when i was younger – for them to be my contemporaries i am born exactly 100 years too late – i hope history is NOT repeating though.

red, 2014, galalith on cotton string, 13 x 13 x 0,5 cm | highway#2, 2014, galalith, cotton string, 11 x 7 x 0.5 cm | Trapp, 2016, 200year old Japanese wood, white paint (aluminium, leather string), 12 x 23 x 1 cm

Can you tell us a little bit about your jewelry design process and your choice of materials?

The start of something new can be initiated by a journey, a dream, an encounter, a situation.. its hard to pin down this initial thing, it can be complex or rather simple – but it needs to trigger my curiosity and it needs to be strong enough to survive the following process. I dive into it by collecting, collaging images, drawings, words, texts, form, materials. I try to take it apart and reassemble it. At this point the outcome is often unclear. I enjoy the freedom of the process but it has its stressful moments when it comes to decision making. It is the time of 100 tryouts and selecting only a few ideas. From there it gets more precise: idea + material + technique = realization of a single piece or a series of pieces. Ideas to installation and collaboration can now follow.

When I managed to get through a process like that, it is pretty great because i can feed on it’s outcome for a while and it adds to my library of experiments and ideas. There is not really a restriction to materials i use, but it shows in the past years that i do have a thing with wood, paint, stone, metal…

How do you consider the body when designing your work?

Jewelry is linked to the human body, it has its purpose on the human body and carries either the history of having been worn or the possibility of going to be worn.

I believe jewelry is charged with energy (energy of the moment it was received, memory of the person who gave it to you, symbol of status, .. ) So when i think about jewelry on the body, i think of body more in a spiritual way than in a formal, physical way. Jewelry is carrier or transmitter of energy and the person wearing it receives this energy.

banana necklace, 2019, painted clay, silver, bananas: about 13 cm, necklace: about 50 cm | happy face ( collaboration with my daughter ), 2017, plywood, paint, soapstone (gold-plated brass, cotton string), 26 x 16 x 0,5 cm

With your work being inspired by your dreams and experiences, how do your personal histories translate in your designs?

For me the ideal is when life and work are not separated. I am aiming to work in a way that combines rather than excludes. So yes, there is allot of my own story in my work but i am trying to abstract and simplify it, to leave space for interpretation.

Can you talk about some major or reoccurring themes within your work?

love, friendship, nature, sex, power, death

What was the last show you saw that stuck out to you?

The retrospective of David Hockney in Paris but what stayed in my memory even more vividly from that day is the reconstructed magic of Atelier Brancusi with its precise placement of sculpture and light, its used tools and objects – by Renzo Piano at Centre Pompidou. I went to see the wired and interesting exhibition of Hilma af Klint at the Guggenheim in New York and wish i had bought the catalogue – it was hard to wrap my head around her theories of the spiral within the spiral building of Frank Lloyd Wright.