I came across Alicia Hannah Naomi last year while I was browsing Occulter. I was immediately taken with the stunningly raw nature of her jewellery designs, and have been obsessed with her work ever since.
You’re a successful contemporary jewellery designer and style blogger. How does it feel to get up every day and know that you’re going to spend the next however many hours doing something you love?
At the moment I’m balancing my jewellery work and blogging with a full time job. The jewellery business has a lot of growth ahead before I can expect it to support me financially. I’m in a very fortunate place though. My employers encourage what I do outside work hours, and my partner is also an artist with a full-time job. So I have a lot of support and understanding behind me. I’m not afraid of hard work to get me where I need to go.
2006 was the year you started to make jewellery, and I’m curious as to how you would describe this period of your life.
At this time I was working in the contemporary jewellery industry but with no skills of my own. It was a crucial time for me because it gave me the first taste of what would later become a lifelong passion. It took many more years to gather the confidence to go get the skills I needed to properly produce my own contemporary jewellery but I spent the in-between years developing a number of techniques with alternative materials that I still use in my work today.
Whenever I visit your online style journal Sea of Ghosts, it feels like a truly pleasurable treat. Can you talk about the work that goes into maintaining the site, and the response you’ve received from readers?
Maintaining the site is getting more and more challenging as I pour more energy into my other endeavours. I hope that in 2014 I can balance my schedule in a way to produce more regular content for the blog, even if it’s only once or twice a month. Because Sea Of Ghosts caters to a niche audience I don’t have the kind of following that more mainstream blogs get; but I have had some wonderful interactions with people online as a result of their having discovered my blog. The most recent was being commissioned to make a sapphire studded wedding band for an international reader about to be married. I couldn’t ask for a more meaningful form of recognition, it was literally a dream of mine being fulfilled.
You seek inspiration from the Wabi-Sabi aesthetic, and I’m interested as to how it found its way into your life, and what meaning it has for you?
Wabi-Sabi is a philosophy which, by effect, has a recognisable aesthetic. Based on the acceptance that everything in nature is transient, the aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. I take inspiration from this effect in the way I design my work. However, given the nature of what I make and the materials I use, I hope to see the philosophy applied directly to my work as it ages over time from the perspectives of both aesthetic and sentimental values.
Can you please talk about considered minimalism, and its importance in your jewellery designing and blog work?
I use the term considered minimalism to describe my aspirations towards my lifestyle, as opposed to minimalism as a design aesthetic. It’s about taking ownership of things rather than having things own you. I don’t like mess or clutter, and I don’t like to let objects encroach my atmosphere; it’s disruptive to my routine and my thought processes. As far as my work goes, this means keeping ephemera to a minimum around my studio. For my wardrobe, it means trying very hard to only buy what is necessary and not bring anything into my closet simply ‘because I like it’. This concept seems to baffle a lot of people; the idea that you don’t have to buy something just because you like and can afford it. You don’t have to OWN everything you LIKE. Coincidentally, I had a reader on my blog recently open a discussion where she challenged my labelling myself as a minimalist. This reader said I have too many things to be a minimalist and I don’t disagree. I’m not sure what term I should use instead to describe my philosophy on ownership but I hope I can come with a more adept one.
I believe you have a love for progressive metal. What it is about metal that you find yourself drawn to?
These days I find myself listening to more doom and drone metal than progressive. It’s the darkness; the slowness, it creates a haunting poetic ambiance that’s substantiated by the weight of the melodies. It inspires me greatly.
There are pieces of your work which are inspired by the polar regions, and the devastating effects of global warming. Do you mind opening up about your concerns, and what your thought processes were like when you were creating these particular pieces?
I had been working on some jewellery for an exhibition that was inspired by the textures and pigments found in glaciers when my partner found a documentary called Chasing Ice. The documentary focuses on the work of National Geographic photographer James Balog and his long term photography project The Extreme Ice Survey. The EIS uses time-lapse photography, conventional photography and video to document the effects of global warming on glacial ice. It is the most wide-ranging glacier study ever conducted. The EIS aims to show epochal change happening within the time frame of human life, and to provide scientists with a photographic record to understand the mechanics and pace of glacial retreat and how it relates to climate change. Seeing this documentary profoundly changed the dynamic of my work. I had been looking at glacial structures from an aesthetic inspiration point but now I had an emotional and humanitarian interest that had been aroused by Balog’s passion for the issue. Although I won an award for the exhibition piece I created from this inspiration it is not the end of my journey creating work in response to this issue; at present I am currently developing a new series of wearable artworks that will follow up this line of influence.
You have an affiliation for black. What would you say prompted this attachment?
Yohji Yamomoto has a wonderful quote about black – “Black is modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy – but mysterious. But above all black says this: “I don’t bother you – don’t bother me.”
From where do you source the materials for your jewellery?
I work primarily in sterling silver and sometimes in gold both of which I buy locally. I try to use as much locally produced/sourced materials as possible but many gemstones are mined overseas, it depends on the stone. The sapphires I used in the wedding band I made for my reader were from an Australian mine.
Taking into consideration each part of the jewellery making process, what would you say is your favourite and what’s the reason behind your choice?
Creatively speaking, modelling is the most ‘fun’ because it’s where I get to form the body of something new. Finishing can be monotonous but it is the most rewarding part of the process because that’s when the piece really comes to life.
Your jewellery business was founded in 2012 and I have to say that I’m in absolute awe of all that you’ve managed to achieve in such a short space of time. What are your feelings towards what you’ve accomplished?
Because of my blog and my background in jewellery and love of fashion I had a very strong sense of identity from the start of my studies, which has really helped me come quite a distance in a seemingly short amount of time. But I try not to think too much about the past… just concentrating on what’s coming next.
I found your work through the Occulter Collective. Can you talk a little about Occulter and what it means to you to have a role within in?
It was an honour to be asked to join the Occulter Collective, a group of like-minded, multidisciplinary artists whose works I had been a long-time admirer of. Artist collectives are increasingly important in a time where technology has taken a higher level of significance than artistry, and thusly the luxury of owning artwork or being a patron to the arts declines. Collectives become community, encourage collaboration and offer strength in aggregation.
Would you say that you’re settled in Melbourne, or do you see your future elsewhere?
I am very open to exploring residency in other cities of the world, but as long as I’m in Australia, Melbourne is my home.
What can we expect from you in 2014?
I have an exciting project coming up in March which has taken 100% of my focus at the moment. After that I hope to release some new additions to my collection around August, as well as the gradual development of my glacial-inspired pieces.
Where should we go to find you?
Right now my jewellery is only available to purchase online. My website itself has an online store, and has a list of other online retailers who represent my work.