by Toby Woollaston
Despite a small stint working in a craft gallery, my knowledge of Kobi Bosshard, New Zealand’s grandfather of contemporary jewellery, is shamefully patchy at best. Thankfully, his daughter Andrea Bosshard (who also happens to be the film’s co-Director along with Shane Loader), knows a thing or two about filmmaking and has created a documentary that is as informative as it is insightful.
Andrea’s very personal account of her father tells the story of the Swiss goldsmith (third generation in a line of goldsmiths), who arrived here in 1961 and proceeded to transform New Zealand’s contemporary jewellery landscape. The film offers a thoughtfully edited array of interviews and archival footage interspersed with some stunning cinematography that indulges in the surrounds of Kobi’s tranquil home studio in Central Otago, observing the craftsman at work and at times glimpsing the fruits of his labour.
The film presents as intelligently ponderous and occasionally meandering, but its core concern always remains Kobi’s sense of conflict between technology and quality. He explains that technology has sped up processes at the cost of quality and has divorced us from our ancestors. His Heideggerian outlook posits how “we have lost faith in our instinctive ways of doing and seeing. We have to explain everything … we have to know why we like it. We can’t just say, gee I like it. It moves me.”
The film is beautifully laden with such insights and philosophical gems, although it does take a while to garner a deeper emotional connection with the man himself. Andrea confesses herself to “crave the detail that brings a story alive and entertains an audience”. Indeed Kobi must’ve been as much a cathartic process for her as it is entertainment for us. Thankfully, the film does make a good many emotional connections in its final chapter as it follows Kobi on a journey back to Switzerland to reconnect with an old friend.
Although the film provides an important historical document of one of New Zealand’s premier artisans, Kobi is perhaps more significantly a documentary that implores humanity to slow down. Above all, Kobi remains essential viewing for any Bosshard enthusiast and a wonderful exposé on a mindful craftsman whose gentle nature belies the prominent nature of his work.
Read the full review for the NZ Herald here.