photos by Henni van Beek

‘Handle with Care’ refers to the care and attention Peter Hoogeboom’s jewellery requires, both the idea and the material: ceramic.

Since his exhibition at Ra in 1994, featuring themes such as healing, mourning and fertility, Peter has concentrated on ceramic as material. A beginner’s stipend and a work grant enabled him to follow various courses, buy materials, acquire expertise, learn skills and work intensively for an extensive period.

It was a while exploring this new material that he was struck by the Buddhist proverb: ‘If you have a rice bowl, it is already broken’. The moral is that you have to free yourself from the material world -  after all, it is only transient. The image of a rice bowl that in the end always breaks symbolized precisely what he wanted to show in the material: service, vulnerability, transience, asceticism. It stretches the idea of durability and the personal attachment to items of jewellery to new limits.

At first, Peter kept close to the classical shapes of ceramic utensils -bowls and bottles- which he turned into necklaces and rings. The tiny format reduced their utilitarian value to a symbolic gesture: you can toast a friendship with one and break one even, or a secret drinker might use one for a quick swig. The large necklaces and collars made of several tiny bottles strung on a silver chain are reminiscent of ceremonial African jewellery and the emergency rations for survival in the desert. The locks are made of silver camels, elephants or tortoises. Sometimes ‘modern’ motifs find their way into the design, like the status symbol of the western chief: a TV or a car…

Peter’s most latest work is inspired by an article on genetic manipulation. Genetically manipulated oysters produce strange pearls which can be used to make demonic pearl necklaces.        Paul Derrez, September 1996

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