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TBI Q&A: Jeweller and gallery owner Dorthe Kristensen

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Over the past six years, Dorthe Kristensen has shared her craft with hundreds of budding jewellers at her night classes in Wellington, from which she says she has learnt "the art of patience". Born…

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Over the past six years, Dorthe Kristensen has shared her craft with hundreds of budding jewellers at her night classes in Wellington, from which she says she has learnt "the art of patience". Born in Denmark, the contemporary jeweller now calls Aro Valley home, and has planted her roots even more firmly by opening Vilders Gallery in Aro Street. 'Vild' means 'wild' in Danish, and Kristensen says the process of setting up the gallery was both wild and spontaneous - the idea coming to her one sleepless night. Not surprising then that her business tip is to "work really hard and learn to survive on little sleep".Over the past six years, Dorthe Kristensen has shared her craft with hundreds of budding jewellers at her night classes in Wellington, from which she says she has learnt "the art of patience". Born in Denmark, the contemporary jeweller now calls Aro Valley home, and has planted her roots even more firmly by opening Vilders Gallery in Aro Street. 'Vild' means 'wild' in Danish, and Kristensen says the process of setting up the gallery was both wild and spontaneous - the idea coming to her one sleepless night. Not surprising then that her business tip is to "work really hard and learn to survive on little sleep".During what hours of the day do you feel most inspired?
I feel most inspired when my kids are fast asleep and there are no interruptions or phone calls to make.

How would a good friend describe your aesthetic or style?
Bright and colourful, but keeping the simplicity and style in focus.

What aspect of your creative practice gives you the biggest thrill?
Sitting for hours working on new ideas and then making it all come together.

How do you think your environment affects your work?
Living in a beautiful country like New Zealand is very inspiring, the colour of the ocean or the shapes of a leaf.

Do you like to look at the big picture or focus on the details?
Both is very important to me - a piece of jewellery I make must look good and well made, whichever way you turn it.

You have been trained in the finest tradition of European goldsmithing. What did your training involve?
The training in London involved a whole lot of design techniques, and in Copenhagen there was more focus on the fine skills of goldsmithing. I was given a lump of gold and had to turn it into a fine piece of jewellery which had to be exact by a 10th of a millimetre. Hard at the time but great training.

How has New Zealand influenced your work since you arrived almost a decade ago?
I use a lot of colour in my work, which I might not have chosen to do back in Denmark.

You're well known in Wellington, having taught night jewellery courses for the last six years. Do you find you learn much from your students?
Yes, especially the art of patience -

Now you're taking the next step by opening your own workshop/gallery. What is the motivation behind this?
My children - I would like to work when they are at school. Also to challenge myself, by using my skill and energy on more new collections and working with customers, making one-off pieces of jewellery. The main theme of my gallery is for people to bring in their old or inherited pieces of jewellery and getting them remade but still respecting the sentimental value of it.

What's your number one business tip for surviving (and thriving) in the creative industries?
Good question. You just have to work really hard and learn to survive on little sleep. And definitely getting a good education behind what you are doing is very important.

Which of your projects to date has given you the most satisfaction?
I did enjoy the exhibition I had in Avid Gallery in March this year called Multitasking.

Who or what has inspired you recently?
My kids, and my workshop where I have all my material to work with is also very inspiring. When I'm there by myself it's one big mess with stones and metal all around for me to pick out. I like getting the most bits of a piece of silver or gold with lots of texture.

If you could go back and choose a completely different career path to the one you've chosen, what would it be?
I love what I do and have no wish to change, but wouldn't mind being a chocolatier for a hobby - How great would that be?

What place is always with you, wherever you go?
My family, my workshop.

What's the best way to listen to music, and why?
The best way for me would be at a great dance party - though that's a while ago. These days it's more having a dance with my kids in the living room!

You are given a piece of string, a stick and some fabric. What do you make?
My first thought would be to make a hammock. I wouldn't mind a good rest -

What's the best stress relief advice you've ever been given?
Go for a swim with my family in the beautiful lagoon in Rarotonga.

What's great about today?
It's a sunny day, and we are all happy and well.

13/11/07

  • Read more TBI Tuesday Q&A interviews
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    The Big Idea Editor

    14 Nov 2007

    The Big Idea Editor

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