Spectacular exhibition of the work of Master Goldsmith Rudolf Heltzel to open on 2 February

Posted 18.01.18

Pendant images l to r: Tourmaline Butterfly VII; Druzy I; Druzy III; Rock Crystal II, photographed by Sarah Johanna Eick; Rudolf Heltzel photographed by Roland Paschhoff

The National Design & Craft Gallery in Kilkenny will celebrate an icon of Irish craft and design when it opens Rudolf Heltzel: In Precious Metal, a spectacular exhibition of sculptural pendants by the master goldsmith on Friday, 2nd February 2018. Rudolf Heltzel has gained an international reputation for the originality, quality and timeless aesthetic of his craftsmanship with each piece created meticulously by hand using some of the world’s oldest jewellery techniques. This exhibition will showcase many of his most ambitious and technically complex designs, presenting pieces selected from his personal archive alongside new work in three of his sculptural pendant collections – Rock Crystal, Tourmaline Butterfly and Druzy. Heltzel will also deliver a lecture, The Arduous Road to the Creation of a Jewel, on Saturday 3rd February in the Gallery. The exhibition runs until 18th April.

For Heltzel, jewellery making is part of a living cultural heritage and he takes inspiration from the history, mythology and symbolism of precious metals and stones. He is renowned for pushing to the limits the design and technical skills of precious jewellery making, using traditional techniques to produce a modern aesthetic. Carefully selected unique and extraordinary precious gemstones form the basis of his stunning sculptural designs in 18ct gold, sterling silver and platinum. Settings are carefully designed to show individual stones to their best advantage. His distinctive designs are collectors’ items, with four generations owning and wearing Rudolf Heltzel.

Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, said: “Rudolf Heltzel came to Ireland in the late ‘60s and set up his studio at the Kilkenny Design Workshops. It is to our benefit that he not only produces incredibly beautiful jewellery but keeps the traditional skills of jewellery-making alive by passing his knowledge on to the next generation of makers in this country and beyond. He is inspirational and rightfully recognised throughout the world for his exquisite craftsmanship, unique pieces and stunning collections. We are very proud to host this exhibition to celebrate his wonderful work and to give visitors an opportunity to see the creations of this master craftsman.”

Originally from Berlin, Germany, Heltzel was invited to Ireland in 1966 by Córas Tráchtála/Irish Export Board. He set up and led the trail-blazing gold and silver studio-workshops at the Kilkenny Design Workshops. In 1968, he established his own workshop in Kilkenny where he, his son Christopher, their employees and apprentices still work today. Heltzel has won countless accolades throughout his 50 years in the business, including ‘One of the World’s Greatest Gem Houses’ by the Franklin Mint. He has exhibited widely and sold through retail establishments such as Neiman Marcus. He is a consultant to the jewellery industry, having worked and mentored across the globe, and has directly trained many goldsmiths working in the field today. He has also been instrumental in establishing training opportunities for jewellery makers, keeping ancient traditional skills alive.

Coinciding with the Heltzel exhibition at the National Design & Craft Gallery from 2nd February will be Bounded + Unlimited: Contemporary Jewellery, an exhibition of exceptional jewellery and goldsmithing by four contemporary jewellery artists from Ireland and China. It will explore the parallel working practices of these makers across design, techniques and materials from the perspective of differing cultural contexts. The title refers to how the artists are bound by their respective personal and national cultural experiences, yet unlimited in opportunities for communication and understanding through the traditions of their craft. The two Irish jewellery artists represented are Eimear Conyard, manager of DCCoI’s Jewellery and Goldsmithing Skills & Design Course and a practicing contemporary jewellery artist, and Christopher Heltzel of the long-established and renowned Rudolf Heltzel studio. The jewellery artists from China are Hu Jun, a professor of Jewellery Design at Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, and Binyu Chen, a lecturer in jewellery design at the School of Art of Beijing City University. All four are internationally recognised makers and have extensive experience within jewellery and goldsmithing education.

Throughout the run of both exhibitions, there will be many opportunities to learn more about jewellery making, including a lecture on modern jewellery design and processes by Rudolf Heltzel; an afternoon with Christopher Heltzel talking about engagement rings; jewellery-making workshops; family days; late dates and a film screening.

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For further press information, please contact Elevate PR on 01 662 5652
Tara Walsh – tara@elevate.ie / Emer Igbokwe – emer@elevate.ie



EXHIBITION OFFICAL LAUNCH: Thursday 1 February, 6.30pm
To be opened by Mary V. Mullin, Design Consultant, Chair of Sir Misha Black Awards and Trustee of the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation

MEET THE MAKERS: Saturday 3 February
12-2pm Talks & demonstrations by Binyu Chen, Eimear Conyard and Hu Jun (B) (free)
3-5pm   Lecture by Rudolf Heltzel: The Arduous Road to the Creation of a Jewel (B) (free)  

FAMILY DAYS: Saturday 10 February, 10 March and 14 April, 11am + 12.30pm (B) (free)
Please visit www.ndcg.ie for updates and information

An afternoon with Christopher Heltzel talking cut, clarity, colour and carat (B) (free)

LATE DATE: Thursday 22 February, 6.30pm
Medieval adornment from Kilkenny, exploring the Rothe House Collection with Marie Wilgaard Kelly from the DCCoI Jewellery and Goldsmithing Skills & Design Course and Rothe House curator Olivia Bergan (B) (free) 

WORKSHOP FOR ADULTS: 10 March, 3pm €15
Explore themed window adornments with Maeve Lynch from Rudolf Heltzel (B)

LATE DATE: Thursday 29 March, 6.30pm
Film screening: documentary about the jewels of Elizabeth Taylor in Elizabeth Taylor: The Auction (B) (free)

SILVER JEWELLERY: Thursday 5th April, 10am-1pm €35
Teens are guided in designing and creating their own bespoke silver jewellery (B) 

RING MAKING: Saturday 7th April, 10am-1pm €40
Sit at the bench to design, forge, decorate and finish your very own silver ring (B)

Tailored tours for primary, secondary & third level (B)

(B) Booking required - email events@ndgc.ie or call 056 7796 151 for details. Please visit www.ndcg.ie for updates to the events schedule.

About the National Design & Craft Gallery
Established by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland in 2000, the National Design & Craft Gallery is Ireland’s leading centre for contemporary craft and design. It exhibits Irish and international designers, artists and makers who push boundaries in their engagement with the making process. Its mission is to inspire appreciation, creativity and innovation, and it plays a critical role in building understanding of craft and material culture in Ireland. www.ndcg.ie

About the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland
The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) is the national agency for the commercial development of Irish designers and makers, stimulating innovation, championing design thinking and informing Government policy. DCCoI's activities are funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation via Enterprise Ireland. DCCoI currently has 64 member organisations and over 2,500 registered clients. www.dccoi.ie 

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