When an artist expresses herself in jewellery, there is always a possibility that her work will be classified as decorative and applied art so that criteria are applied to evaluating it other than those conventionally used for assessing the fine arts.
The discussion of whether jewellery is art has been going on in Europe since the 1970s and it would seem that no satisfactory interim result will be achieved even by the decade beginning in 2010.
All the fine buzzwords coming from the more recent visual arts, ranging from 'cross-over' to interdisciplinarity, seem to have little bearing on the jewellery being produced.
Art and jewellery operate in different orbits. We may regret this or accept it; we can, however, steadfastly work on making the old, persistent hierachies flatten out a bit.
Whether this is undertaken vociferously or in soft tones is left up to the individual doing so.
The aim is always to procure for an art medium the respect it deserves.
Katja Prins does this at chamber pitch, which is soft but clearly and limpidly audible and probably more memorable than a brief, deafening spate of noise.
The work she has produced over more than ten years has become ever clearer.
The earliest pieces are still rather playful in spirit and, due to the decorative aspect, concentration on essentials emerges all the more pronounced.
In the group of works entitled Flowers, a fine touch of irony is also perceptible.
The blossom motif is a classic jewellery shape that has continued to resurface since the earliest forms of self-adornment and has been extremely popular down through the ages.
In 2007 an exhibition -'Art is Flowering'- at the Pforzheim Jewellery Museum showed how the motif has been varied in jewellery for century after century.
If, therefore, one takes on this subject as a contemporary artist, the history of goldsmithing always looms in the background - one is always operating, as it were, in 'one's' métier.
These are extremely abstract, decidedly defamiliarised flower arrangements yet they are recognisable at first glance as flowers.
A second or third look makes this seem questionable, on the other hand, especially when the materials and colours are more closely scrutinised: industrial elements in silicone and silver that have mutated out of their usual use not the rampant growth of lush blooms but rather the work of a cool, analytical intellect that raises the question of quintessence and in these works directs the eye to basic truths, which emerge all the more noticeably the more defamiliarised the object - a little industrial cogwheel becomes a radiate flower head.
A flower form that corresponds to the basic pattern of a flower and is probably recognised as such by most people from all cultures and civilisations, even when the basic form is increasingly abstract. The almost total eschewal of colour should also be viewed in this context; directing attention to the perception of forms so that it is not distracted by the emphasis that is colour.
A method that has its roots in science: botany uses highly simplified handling of line to describe basic plant forms in drawings, thus making it possible to represent systematic classification. However, Prins's flowers are certainly not systematically arranged arrays of flowers; this is free play with the circle, the oval and the rectangle, which she masters with such assurance that we immediately see sprays and garlands of flowers and are in no doubt about it.
Hence a classic jewellery motif, that, thus transmuted, moves in circles that are at a far remove from the operant orbits of the goldsmith's craft.
Cornelie Holzach, director Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim, DE
Photography: Eddo Hartmann, Francis Willemstijn