Shifting scale from adornment to atmosphere; or from location on the body, to the location of the body, with In Praise of Volcanoes contemporary jeweller Warwick Freeman directs the audience's attention to our shared, physical inhabitation of the volcanic field of Tāmaki Makaurau.

In playfully referencing Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s 1933 essay ‘In Praise of Shadows’ Freeman gestures toward an open question, one which asks what it might mean to embrace a ‘volcanic aesthetics’. This question, and the work itself, invite contemplation. Perhaps it would place Mataoho (deity associated with the volcanoes of Tāmaki) centre stage, as the local primordial crafts-being, venerating the volcanic cones across the city as the great ancient furnaces of material transformation. Freeman's use of the wood preservation technique sho sugi ban leans in to such an interpretation, bringing with it an allusion to the Japanese practice of cultivating shrines dedicated to local deities, ubusuna no kami, and to the substances of fire, scorching and skin.

Yet this work also draws reference from the skilled transformation of materials at the hands of human makers. Among these is Peter Zumthor’s Bruder Klaus Field Chapel. A sensuous contemplative space, Zumthor's Chapel situated on farm land in Mechernich, Germany is a salient meeting point between craftmanship, materials and structural innovation, and between the cultural and aesthetic worlds of the human community, with the forces of the natural world that support it.

Bringing his own in-depth, hands-on study of local stone to bear on this work, as a craftsman’s gesture In Praise of Volcanoes is a responsive interpretation of the shifting landscape of Objectspace, that emphasises the informed approach to materials and contexts that especially characterise the fields of craft, architecture and design.

Warwick Freeman is a jewellery maker from Tāmakai Makaurau, Auckland and was the founding Chair of Objectspace in 2004. Frequently exhibiting internationally, his works are held in museum collections throughout New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the USA. Warwick is a Laureate of the New Zealand Arts Foundation and the Françoise van den Bosch Foundation, Amsterdam.

Lava Brooch, 2004. Image credit: Roy Tremain