Arek Wolski (b. 1972) is a Warsaw-based designer and jeweller. He creates items of jewellery from gold, silver and brass; he also uses volcanic lava, sea glass and recycled materials. He scooped a prestigious award at the Innovations competition at the Inhorgenta Europe Trade Fair in Munich.
Wolski is the first Pole to have won an award at the Munich trade fair; in the field of jewellery design, it is one of the most prized international distinctions a designer can receive. Wolski was chosen from a group of 161 fellow designers. The jury gave the following justification for its decision: 'His work has a profound message. It is an ironic interpretation of the modern world expressed through the language of jewellery.'
In autumn 2013, Wolski also became the first Pole to exhibit his work at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. The art jewellery exhibition, entitled Loot, featured the work of fifty-three jewellery designers from all over the world. Wolski exhibited his collection there, which comprised items made from silver, steel, silver-plate and gemstones. 'I really like what Arek manages to achieve with gemstones, how he sets them in motion. I think he is extremely inventive — he has a vivid imagination,' explained the exhibition’s curator, Bryna Pomp, in an interview with platine.pl.
Arek Wolski studied oceanography. In 1998 he graduated from the University of Gdańsk. He took up goldsmithery in his own workshop after completing his studies. He acquired skills through a process of trial and error. In his final year of studies, he got a job at an amber cutter’s workshop. After just two month, he was working on his own. 'At the beginning I saw it as more of a hobby, but the idea I could make a living doing it was germinating somewhere in my mind. I shut myself away in the cellar for a few years and somehow it worked out.' Wolski tells culture.pl.
Wolski spends most of his time designing and making functional items; until recently this was mainly jewellery, but he now creates larger objects such as furniture, lamps and ceramics.
Producing an object that is widely accepted by the public gives me great satisfaction. The difficulties involved in getting the right balance of personal style, utility and modernity in a design are a powerful motivation and stimulate the need to stay competitive. However, the most important objects for me are those which are difficult to define, the ones that lie somewhere between design and art. It is through those objects that I want to express what I consider to be significant, from my subjective perspective. I see a future for objects of that ilk in a world of mass good taste, says Wolski.
As well as jewellery, Wolski’s recent works include a stool and a bas-relief. The stool, entitled Self-portrait in five parts, was created for the Just a thing exhibition. Wolski explains: 'It is very much an everyday item in terms of function, yet the form — and here there is something of a divergence from the title of the exhibition — aimed to create confusion among users and, as a consequence, trigger emotional responses to everyday objects.'
Public wall is a bas-relief which can be changed by members of the public using coloured marker pens. Wolski says:
I was interested in the working methods of collective artists. Do they work for the sake of the work as a whole? Is it for the meanings that will be revealed? Or is it for the sheer pleasure of doing it? What about the temptation to censor this creative freedom in public places? Does interference with an object increase the value of the whole? Can it really be called creation, or is it simply vandalism?
Author: Katarzyna Zacharska, November 2013
English translation: Garry Malloy
- 2013 Gallery (AV-17), Vilnius, Lithuania;
- 2011 Amber Museum, Vilnius, Lithuania;
- 2009 Spektrum Gallery (with Mia Maljojoki and Florence Lehmann), Munich, Germany;
- 2006 Brantebjerg Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark;
- 2005 Danish Museum of Art and Design, Copenhagen, Denmark;
- 2001 Amber Museum, Nida, Lithuania;
- 2001 Galerie Aniol, Wuppertal, Germany;
- 2000 Yes Gallery, Poznan, Poland;
- 2013 Loot, Museum of Arts and Design, New York;
- 2013 Common Roots, Holon Design Museum, Israel;
- 2013 Hardened Tears, Villa de Bondt, Gent, Belgium;
- 2012 Opening of Kielce Design Centre, Poland;
- 2012 Just a Thing, DMY, Berlin, Germany;
- 2012 Pinanonimum, Lisbon, Portugal;
- 2012 Group Six at Galerie V&V, Vienna, Austria;
- 2011 Dreamscape, Gallery av17, Vilnius, Lithuania;
- 2010, 2012 Collect, with Lesley Craze Gallery at Saatchi Gallery, London;
- 2011, 2012 Bóg, Honor, Ojczyzna, Public Wall, Lodz Design Festival, Poland;
- 2010 6 : 10 Group Six Gallery Legnica, Poland; Lodz Design Festival, Poland;
- This is another love song about death Group Six, Club Sfinks, Sopot, Poland;
- 2001-2009 Twenty exhibitions by Group Six (Poland, Norway, UK);
- 2009 Decadence, Gallery Legnica, Poland;
- 2009 Sting of Passion, Manchester, UK;
- 2008 Exclusive, Gallery Legnica, Poland;
- 2010 Innovation Prize, Inhorgenta Europe, Munich, Germany;
- 2009 Special Award, Decadence, Gallery in Legnica, Poland;
- 2009 I Prize Presentations, Warsaw, Poland.
- 2007 II prize, Milano Gallery, Warsaw, Poland;
- 2003 Distinction, Milano Gallery, Warsaw, Poland;
- 2001 Golden Thread, Lodz, Poland;
- 2000 Special Prize – Amberif '00;
- 2000 III Prize, Figure and Form, St Petersburg, Russia;
- Silver Museum, Gliwice, Poland;
- Amber Museum, Gdansk, Poland;
- Amber Museum, Ribnitz-Damgarten, Germany;
- Amber Museum, Malbork, Poland.