Handshake is a mentoring project unique to the contemporary art world. It is a space where artists hand-over some of their quality knowledge to those asking for a ‘hand’ and is a two-way project that encourages symbiosis and a ‘give and take’.
The project began in February 2011, is the brainchild of Wellington based artist, curator and tutor Peter Deckers. The idea was born out of recognition of the need for ongoing support for talented New Zealand graduates after completing their jewellery/art study. Handshake reverses the old ‘apprentice’ model, whereby a mentee works for a mentor – here the mentor works more for the mentee through their feedback and support in the development of ideas and exhibition work.
The first iteration of the project, Handshake 1, began when twelve jewellery graduates from New Zealand were given the opportunity to make work alongside their jewellery heroes from around the globe, without having to leave their own workshops. Peter approached these distinguished, internationally established artist and icons, offering them the opportunity to act as mentors in a collaborative two-year project. The result? A lively blog, touring exhibitions, an exceptional learning experience as well as a book.
Handshake 2 and 3 take the project further, enabling more relationships to form, practices to develop and ideas to refine. A series of national and international exhibitions are lined up as testing grounds for these other iterations.
Handshake takes advantage of new technologies: Skype, Blogs, FaceTime that enable the mentees to develop and refine their practice alongside their mentors in a virtual studio space. A significant part of the project is that the mentee records their process via the Handshake blogs for others to view and learn from. Through their individual blog pages, the mentees present the fabric of their ideas, demonstrate the processes of their research, design and making, self-reflections, their search for deep philosophical connections, explored possibilities, and edits of the solutions. It also includes why mentees choose their mentor, summaries the advice and feedback, shows extracts from mentor publications, press reviews and interviews, all making for a rich reading.
HANDSHAKE 1 (HS1) 2011 – 2013
HANDSHAKE 3 (HS3) 2016