Into the fold: a mixed-media approach leads to new thinking in fine jewellery design
In the four short years since she created her London jewellery label, Completedworks, artistic director Anna Jewsbury has displayed a knack for converting abstract ideas into ready-to-wear reality. Her early Pillar collection, for instance, referenced ancient cultures as fine fragments of Doric marble columns set into gold rings and chains. Since 2013, Jewsbury, a former maths student, and her business-partner brother, Mark, have continued to leverage academic leanings in stylish collections that resonate across both the design and jewellery worlds. Hence, Dover Street Market was an early adopter.
This September, when the brand exhibits at London and Paris Fashion Weeks, marks a change of direction for Jewsbury. Taking a more visceral approach to her craft, she will present Completedworks’ Fold collection, a joint project with London-based artist Ekaterina Bazhenova-Yamasaki, who has created a related series of Fold ceramics.
‘This collection is a big move for me,’ Jewsbury admits. ‘Fold uses gold to imitate another material – the liquid marble that Ekaterina has used for her ceramics. That deception offers something you don’t expect in the design.’
Jewsbury’s earrings from the Fold collection
To celebrate the launch of their artistic coming together, the pair have designed a unique Fold piece especially for Wallpaper*, a brass bangle that circles the wrist like a just-crumpled piece of shiny paper.
The Fold project emerged after jeweller and artist were introduced by a mutual friend, fashion designer Yulia Kondranina. ‘I was the art director for Yulia’s S/S16 show and I wanted to include some jewellery, so I asked her if she knew any designers,’ recalls Bazhenova-Yamasaki. ‘Yulia immediately said, “Yes, Anna”. I had a look at what she was doing and thought it was perfect. We met when I went to pick up some of her jewellery.’
The Kondranina show presented Jewsbury with a platform to explore new forms beyond the intimate scale that fine jewellery design demands. It led Bazhenova-Yamasaki to think differently, too. Having worked across video, photography and performance, she had a nagging impulse to ‘stop being so conceptual’ and create a product. That steered her towards the tactile possibilities of ceramics.
The pair concocted the idea of a related body of work around a single theme: each would produce a collection directly inspired by the other’s medium. The result is Fold, which comprises an 11-piece jewellery collection by Completedworks and 15 related ceramic works by Bazhenova-Yamasaki.
The project made for a happy fit: ‘We began by exchanging ideas and checking in with each other every few weeks to see what the other had produced,’ Bazhenova-Yamasaki says. ‘The dynamic was really natural.’ Jewsbury was working in brass, while, after a period of trial and error with stoneware and porcelain, Bazhenova-Yamasaki settled on liquid marble, because ‘the results are so tactile’. But she admits that the material – a mix of porcelain and marble often used in sculpture – was difficult to work with: ‘You have be quick because it dries really fast.’
That challenge was a turning point. ‘As Ekaterina’s ceramics progressed in a more abstract way, with the liquid marble generally dictating its own forms, we started tuning into the manipulative quality of materials and how they can act in ways that you can’t foresee,’ says Jewsbury. Working initially in brass allowed the jewellery designer to create conceptual pieces on a bigger scale. ‘It really started to work when we stopped thinking of it as “here’s a fold, there’s a fold” and began giving in to natural movement,’ she says of the finished jewellery pieces, which are created in gold, with castell-set diamonds toppling among the folds. ‘It’s all come together like an accident – only a really pleasant one,’ concludes Bazhenova-Yamasaki.
As originally featured in the September 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*222)