Collection I features 15 pieces inspired by nature and organic form, interlinked with indigenous cultures and storytelling. It celebrates the diverse, “imperfect”, unique beauty of nature, from discarded lobster antennae shaped into hoop earrings and rings to unsymmetrical earrings made up of broken and eroded shells.
The project started with a mass collection of organic form, from shells to bones, crystals and stones. Through this process, my eyes were opened up to the brilliance of nature as a changeable and imperfect thing, it was a learning process but I accepted the fragility and vulnerability of it and I was in awe of it. Nature hasn't been conditioned to be ashamed of its wounds and flaws, it doesn't cover them up, it hasn't been told its ugly or weak to have 'imperfections', to be fragile, to be vulnerable, to be broken. In every chip, wrinkle, crease, uneven surface, crack and dent it holds a story and it wears its stories for everyone to see. I sought out objects that had flaws, that were innately 'imperfect' and I embraced them, I wanted the broken, the discarded, the worn, marked and weathered. They weren't beautiful despite of their flaws, they were beautiful because of them and I wanted to consciously celebrate this. Today people aspire to a very unrealistic standard of beauty and in order to achieve it we are willing to get there by all means necessary; we nip, we tuck, we cover, we hide, we reshape, we inject, we remove, we darken our skin, we lighten our skin, we thin, we fatten, we starve, we purge, we do everything and anything but accept, embrace and honour what is naturally ours. I wanted to honour natural form, I wanted bumps, lumps, texture, I wanted oddities, and I wanted uniqueness. Through uniqueness comes true beauty, and so there was this small but determined drive to work against what we think of as perfect in society today.
The collection is also influenced by the history of nature in adorning within indigenous cultures, all over the world. I looked through archive pictures of men and women from the early 1800s to the late 90s, from the Berber people of Morocco, to the Siam people of Thailand, the Xhosa people from The Eastern Cape, the Kanaka Maoli people of Hawaii to The Dukha people of Mongolia. The Xhosa men wearing hoop earrings and beaded balaclavas, the Siamese women topless with shaved heads, looking into the camera with such unapologetic pose and power. They were adorned with shells, bones and handmade jewellery produced from nature, whether it came from an animal or the earth they were wearing it and what they were wearing had meaning, depth and weight to it. There was something very humbling about seeing these pictures from so long ago, yet feeling so relevant, fresh, forward, beautiful and unique. These were my muses and they were an incredibly important part in influencing and inspiring the collection as whole. Each piece in the collection holds a story and honours this concept of wearing something with a narrative and profundity behind it, as it always has done within tribal culture.
Although I was being inspired by the age-old notion of making jewellery from natural found objects, it was integral to create a collection of pieces that were relevant and current within culture today. The process of casting each object in silver and gold, giving them a polished finish, whilst still keeping and honouring their original form and textures, brings together a visual marriage of nature and contemporary jewellery. Adding pieces like hoop earrings and two finger rings brings modern culture into the collection and using organic form to do so gives it another added dimension. Visually I wanted the collection to look eclectic, to look like you'd just been outside and found a mishmash of objects and pieces washed up on the beach, I wanted each piece to look completely different from the next to really show off the diversity within nature. How varied the collection looks, mirrors and mimics the diversified cultures that inspired me throughout this process. Each indigenous group I explored all looked so distinct and were so unique and beautiful in their own way, I wanted to bring and honour that in the final visual of the collection.