Frank Juhls

Frank and Regine Juhls

Frank and Regine Juhls (???? – ????) Tucked away in northern Norway, on lands the Sami and Lap people consider their primary home, you can find an unobtrusive building with sweeping lines that contains traditional Sami silver and modern silver design.

In the 1950s, this was an isolated wilderness with no roads where the Sami people still lived their traditional way of life. A young Danish adventurer, Frank Juhls, worked here as a handyman and a young German girl, Regine, worked as a maid for a reindeer herding family. They soon found each other and became part of this unique community.

Frank Juhls began repairing the silver jewelry the Sami had accumulated though had not created themselves. The jewelry found its way north through trade.

Since nomads are always on the move, they do not have silversmiths. However, they do find silver a good way to accrue wealth and capital. It’s easy to carry and can be displayed to demonstrate an individual’s or tribe’s prosperity.

Despite being major consumers of silver jewelry, the Sami make none of it themselves. With a silversmith in the area, they could now have jewelry made to order such as adding an extra row of pearls around a brooch, or bigger, more visible hooks on a man’s costume.

Regine Juhls also learned the silversmith’s craft, however her silver creations are a means of artistic expression. Her Tundra series is regarded as a modern classic and her jewelry feature light, fragile, organic and imaginative lines inspired by the vegetation and light of the tundra.

In 1959, during the early years of the Norwegian Studio Silver Movement, Frank and Regine opened a small workshop. They were the first silversmiths from the Norwegian part of Lapland and their work, inspired by their life on the tundra, includes some of the most attractive and appealing Norwegian pieces.

Over the years, the Juhls’ workshop developed into a gallery in a large building with architecture that reflects the shapes of the surrounding landscape. The two pioneers always thought that life in isolation, far away from large cities, fashions and trends was the prerequisite for them to develop their unique styles.

It is the Juhls’ modern jewelry that has gained international recognition. He paints and she creates sculptured jewelry. Both are inspired by untouched Nature.

Regine’s collection, named ‘Tundra’, is, in her words ‘inspired by the eternal Wasteland of the arctic.’ It displays its tough elegance from the stones, bones, lichen and moss from which it shapes have been borrowed.

The collection is characterized by uneven surface texture, negative space, raw unpolished white silver surfaces, and sometimes brightly colored stones. The very earliest pieces and the prototypes are made of small pieces of silver hammered and then soldered together. 

Some of the pieces from the ‘Tundra Series’ were exhibited at the 1967 Montreal World’s Fair where Regine Juhls and Tone Vigeland were chosen to represent the Norwegian art of jewelry making.

Regine and Frank’s daughter, Sunniva Juhls now runs the gallery and also has her own collection. Her round earrings, deceptively simple brooches and rings in strong, simple shapes take their inspiration from the landscape just like the work of her parents but in the latest modern styles.

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