‘Meditation’ and ‘spiritual’ are words not immediately synonymous with jewellery, but for artists like Kate Alterio, these themes form the building blocks upon which their work materialises. "Spirituality is the most sacred aspect of being human, and the cornerstone to all my creativity," says Kate during our recent phone interview. More than just bodily ornamentation, Kate sees her pieces as talismans, protecting their owners with the loving energy Kate channels into her practice.
Born in New Zealand to a father who was a welder, Kate had an early insight into metalwork. "All that metal and flame got into my subconsciousness. I loved watching him and was his right-hand woman," she shares. Following her father’s passing in her teens, it wasn’t until a class in Dunedin in 1997 that Kate found her calling in jewellery-making, bringing her place in the workshop full circle. “I just loved it straight away. I then moved to Wellington where I met Danish goldsmith, Dorthe Kristensen, who took me under her wing." After four years under Kristensen’s tutelage, Kate setup her own workshop and began to hold exhibitions.
Kate’s jewellery is inspired by minimalist aesthetics and repetition, favouring timeless materials like silver, yellow gold and pearls. "I love traditional materials. Something can be really simple but visually striking, such as a singular shape repeated over and over again interspersed by one off-beat piece, I really enjoy that." That Kate’s work come from a contemplative inner place is evident in the names of her pieces: there’s a pearl-stringed necklace with a satin-finished gold cross named ‘Path of Light’, whilst ‘Balancing Duality’ and ‘Holding the Balance’ allude to both the physical qualities of earrings, and her contemplations on human experience and perception. "My collections are inspired by whatever I’m experiencing or my consciousness is processing in life - and the form comes after that," says Kate.
These days, Kate is based on Kapati coast up by the beach, about 50 minutes from Wellington where she makes jewellery, metal-based artworks and has also ventured into film photography. "I had a mentorship and developed it all in the darkroom. I really love those old processes."
Her latest jewellery collection, the Magic and the Mundane is about finding sacred moments in the ordinary. "As a jeweller everything is very repetitive, you file things hundreds of times, you sand things hundreds of times and I still find joy in that. I find it very sacred to be in the moment and perfect something."
Kate's latest collection will be exhibited at Co_ta in October 2023. Sign up to the Parti below to be invited to the opening.
Words: Nathalie Craig & Kim Low Photography: Kim Low Potrait & analog prints courtesy of Kate Alterio
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