"Often people want to describe me as ‘making more than just jewelry’ - they prefer to describe me as ‘an artist who makes small sculptures’. Jewelry making in their eyes is not an esteemed enough practice for an artist. I remind them whatever place jewelry has in the contemporary visual arts hierarchy that it has along history, perhaps the oldest. In fact the oldest examples we have of human material history confirm that it is jewellery that provides the earliest evidence of our capacity to think symbolically. Jewelry still has that capacity - that’s what keeps me interested – I’m an artist but I’m still a jeweler."
Born in Nelson in 1953, Warwick’s skills are largely self-taught. He took up jewelry-making in Perth in 1972, following two years of travel. Returning to New Zealand in 1973, Warwick initially established a workshop in Nelson before moving to Auckland in 1975. After a brief stint as a manufacturing jeweler he first joined Lapis, a co-operative jewelry workshop, in 1977, and a year later became a partner in Auckland's now highly successful jewelry co-operative Fingers.In the 1980s as a prominent member of this group, he revolutionised contemporary jewelry practice in Aotearoa. This work was characterised by the use of natural materials such as bone, stone and shell.
Warwick Freeman lives in Auckland.