Camden Close Up: Katrin Spranger
Camden Alive is a programme of arts and cultural events that celebrates the people of Camden. Sharing our diverse heritage through creativity, Camden Alive has captured the sights, sounds and spirit of the borough and what it means to live and work in Camden. Through music, dance, food, fashion, gardening, performance and visual art the stories of our neighbourhoods will unfold and be showcased
In this series, we are speaking to artists and creatives who worked with residents on the Camden Alive projects. Today, we are speaking with Katrin Spranger. Katrin Spranger is an activist and multi-disciplinary artist working with sculpture, jewellery and performance. She creates dystopian narratives that engage with the environment, consumer culture, science fiction and natural resources threatened with depletion.
Jewellers Katrin Spranger and Kelvin Birk explored ideas about value with Holborn and Camden residents in a series of workshops in their jewellery making studio K2 Academy, Cockpit Arts. The residents who participated brought in small items which they considered valuable. Value was measured in many different ways. Some brought objects that connected them with lost loved-ones; others brought items that reminded them of homes left behind or reconnected them with nature. Each object has a story or ‘tale’ attached to it, so that the process of creating artworks from them is a way of encapsulating and embodying memories of people who have passed and places that are far away, or things that may be out of reach in our ordinary lives.
As part of its Camden Alive programme Camden Council, together with K2 Academy of Contemporary Jewellery and Camden resident artists are delighted to announce the opening of The Gallery at Swiss Cottage Library on 17 May 2021 with the exhibition Connecting Values: exploring co-creation through making.
Tell us about your recent work with Camden Alive and how it fits within your body of work.
Being invited to participate in Camden Alive, I was commissioned to develop an art project and to provide workshops for Camden residents alongside our K2 students. Based on the theme of ‘value’, each participant brought an object which told a story about its owner and embodied a value personal to them. Working collaboratively, residents learnt about my practice and the electroforming technique. My objective was to address concerns about climate change and highlight the fundamental values and access to fresh-water resources. Participants supported me to create a water fountain, using a found object reminiscent of an old milking-parlour receiving jar mounted at its centre, and a collecting bowl underneath. Items supplied were then copper coated and added to the frame, resulting in a Memento Mori styled, futuristic bejewelled water fountain. Many of the objects were organic materials that together remind us of our shared dependency on water.
What were the best parts of working in Camden?
I mostly enjoyed the community engaged aspect to co-create and develop work collaboratively.
How have you been keeping during lockdown? Do you have any tips or activities to share with us?
Lockdown has been the hardest mental down fall for me as far as I can think. Having a partner who works for the NHS, there was a lot of anxiety and uncertainty. Quite literally I felt being locked up due to the restriction of freedom of movement. My studio is based within a community and in the beginning of the first lockdown, the landlord considered shutting down the building. This felt really threatening because without the space of creating, I could never have coped mentally with the situation. Luckily, the studios were kept open, so I was able to continue working. During this period, I went back to small scale, which was very comforting and therapeutic. I created a series of chains and necklaces that reflected on my state of mind with the aesthetic of being confined.
What’s next for you?
The commission has given me more ideas of how to work collaboratively and as one of the next projects I would love to create a drinking fountain.
Past practice has included the development of crude oil into jewellery that melts on the body as well as the 3D-printing of honey into edible art. Forging different experiences for viewer and wearer, Spranger’s interactive pieces comprise permanent and deteriorative elements that critique societal norms of beauty and value.
Her most recent work Aquatopia adopts a critical view of our fresh water supply, its increasing demand and pollution. Inspired by traditional water systems, the futuristic Aquatopia objects reappropriate original plumbing parts and laboratory found objects in order to reimagine familiar drinking vessels, scooping bowls, faucets and storages, including a bath-tub. Made from copper and glass – traditionally associated with the transport and storage of water – the Aquatopia objects are produced via electroforming: a process in which a layer of copper is deposited on a conductive surface. Decorative, plant-like formations on each vessel reflect life's dependency on water.
Katrin Sprangers’ work has been shown in group and solo exhibitions both nationally and internationally such as Saatchi Gallery, Design Museum Munich and Museum for Applied Arts, Hamburg.
Another part of her practice is the K2 Academy of Contemporary Jewellery, which she co-founded in 2016. K2 teaches conceptual development, paired with conventional craft education.
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