ON RESURRECTING THROWAWAY OBJECTS IN PRECIOUS MATERIALS
When and why did you become a jewelry designer/maker?
Hollie is a London based jewellery designer whose interest in her immediate surroundings and found objects has inspired the ‘Rubbish Jewellery’ collection, her work often being conceived in direct response to everyday life and concerns. Hollie has graduated from MA in Jewellery and Metal from Royal College of Art. She works from her studio in Deptford.
WORDS Nina Thorstensen
PHOTOS Rosaline Shahnavaz
About ten years ago while studying for a painting degree, I began producing jewellery to sell at the Portobello market in London. I immediately found the fast pace and competition of the market exhilarating. I enjoyed the immediacy and intimacy of making something to be displayed on the body. It felt like the best compliment a maker could receive.
It was the availability of non-precious materials such as plastic and resin in the second half of twentieth century that gave rise to breaking with traditional techniques in jewellery. Do you find categories like fashion or concept jewellery mutually inclusive or exclusive? Where do you see your work?
I see my work straddling both art and the fashion world. My work, if you choose to delve a little bit deeper, has story and meaning behind it, however it is also possible to purely appreciate the craftsmanship and the design of the piece if you want to. I like the fact that you don’t have to know my intentions to understand the collection.
Can you say something about your interest in your objects being indexes of your surroundings, such as the inspiration you find around Deptford, the area where you live?
My work often has a direct connection to the objects and ephemera found in my immediate surroundings. From hand-written shop signs to scraps of litter, the objects I choose to recreate usually go unnoticed. Once solidified in a sense they become eternalized, almost a snapshot of everyday life.
With the Rubbish Jewelry collection you were also interested in inverting the idea of what can be precious and how our relationship with objects can change. Can you talk about these ideas?
My Rubbish Jewellery collection stemmed from a frustration that my pieces were often judged by their material value. When selling intricately made plastic jewelry on the market it often felt that people instantly knew how to value the work merely because it was made from a nonprecious material. Making scraps of rubbish out of precious materials was almost an experiment to see what the response would be to an item typically without value presented in an innately valuable material.
Can you speak about your choice of materials and the way that you tend to work with them? Do you make any sketches and drawings or do you rely on the creative process itself?
When creating my collection I immediately began to test the idea and made a piece in metal. Once I had completed a series of test pieces I began scouring the streets for potential objects to recreate, taking hundreds of pictures, making some technical drawings. For other projects it requires much more research and development in my sketchbook. But I’m quite open to utilizing any medium appropriate to my initial idea, from making books and websites to using precious metal.
You used your own labor-intensive processes to recreate found objects in precious materials. The pieces are informed by both concept and craft. What techniques, processes and methods did you apply to the material?
The objects I choose to recreate usually go unnoticed.
It is important that each fragment looks as realistic as possible. For example a real chewing gum wrapper has a slight woven texture. To recreate this required experimentation with different fabrics, which were impressed onto the surface of the metal using a rolling mill. Other processes used in the collection include fold forming, soldering, polishing, and gold plating. As each piece is made from a fairly delicate silver sheet, it requires careful handling and cannot be made into a mold to be cast. This means I make each piece from scratch, starting from a flat sheet of metal — a process I enjoy immensely, but which is very labor-intensive.
Who and what are the biggest influence on your work?
My work is often in response to everyday life and concerns. I’m as much influenced by the local shopkeeper to global issues about consumerism and excessive consumption. Artists that I find particularly inspiring often have a witty edge to their work, such as David Shrigley, Carl Klerkin, Gijs Bakker and Hans Stoffer. I admire the writing of Grayson Perry with his honest and frank dissection of craft culture, the writing of Benjamin Lignel, as well as Ted Noten’s recent manifesto.