GLORIA COELHO // f/w ‘13
GLORIA COELHO // f/w ‘13
So excited to be working with Lauren again next week!
More from our Fetish editorial in Culture Magazine.
Fetish / Culture Magazine
Lauren Elizabeth / Sarah Lea / Michael V / Suk Yee
What draws me to your work is the dramatic quality yet stillness of each of your pieces; much like the natural landscapes you gather your inspiration from. Are these landscapes based on existing places?
I have a tumblr account where I collate and archive images as inspiration from a variety of sources. Many of these images are photographs from real places although they’re usually not credited with their location. Mainly from these images what I can extract is a mood. The tones, the textures, the way these visual cues make me feel – and this is then transferred back into my materials.
How did you come to be a contemporary jeweller? Was it something you’ve always wanted to pursue or did it evolve from another creative interest?
I worked for an independent contemporary jewellery boutique while I was studying in 2003. The owners carried many interesting local and international designers as well as their own range that they manufactured from their head office. It was a family owned business; they were brothers – one was the business director and the other brother was the jeweller. Seeing the industry from that perspective changed the way I felt about and what I understood about jewellery. Contemporary jewellery wasn’t like anything I’d known before. I was used to costume jewellery and the mass-produced gold and diamond fare from chain stores. But it took years for me to get the courage to start making my own contemporary jewellery. Like I said, I had that job in 2003 and I graduated in 2013. Nothing is an overnight success.
What comes first; the idea for a collection or developing the idea around new materials you find?
I think it’s more of an evolutionary process, as I’m always collating content to my tumblr I’m constantly exposed to things that could inspire a new work. Something will stick with me; a shape, a texture, it will resonate and create that emotional connection – then I’ll start sketching. Not much because I hate it, I prefer to go straight to my materials. But sketching helps you engineer a design, to push it further, to make it better, and it is an important stage.
What is your nationality/background?
Mostly Polish with some Dutch and Russian, but I’m 3rd generation Australian on my Mother’s side. Both of her parents were born here in Australia.
After discovering your styling blog Sea of Ghosts, I had an inkling you were a doom metal fan, (and was excited to read that you were in your ‘about’ section!) I’m a huge fan of doom and drone myself; I’d love to know the first band of either/both of these genres that caught your interest.
The first doom metal I heard was probably Om. I had been given a recommendation by a friend (who was really angling to get me into the genre) to check them out, but I didn’t because I’m so lazy when it comes to acquainting myself with new music. But I’d mentioned the recommendation to my (new at the time) boyfriend, to suss out whether he knew of the band, or liked them, and he immediately pulled out his iPod to play some for me. Drone and doom is so rich in ambiance. I think that’s what it is that draws me in. It’s an entire universe, and you’re inside it.
Another aspect I adore about your work is your very distinct aesthetic. I love that you’ve had a certain darkness to your work right from the beginning, completely separate from any ‘dark’ styles that were/are trending in fashion. How did your affinity for this style come about?
It’s interesting you said that because sometimes I feel my work gets associated with other aesthetics which, while also considered ‘dark’ for their own reasons, aren’t really the direction of the vision I have for my work. The further I go the more narrow a section of the ‘dark’ genre I find myself sliding into. It’s dangerous. I wonder constantly who I’m alienating by being so selfish. At the end of the day I make art to make art, and it’s nice that jewellery is a kind of art with multiple values – it’s beautiful to look at, it’s functional - you can wear it, and it’s made from rare and precious materials – but this inherent ability to become commercialised doesn’t define my work, so I can’t worry about whether it will appeal to the masses; and I shouldn’t worry, because as an artist my job is to fulfil my vision.
I can’t say there was a defining moment, only that I was already wearing mostly black for years because I felt a comfort and an innate sense of self in it. But my specific style has really just evolved, thanks to the internet, and blogs, and forums, and magazines, exposing me to what’s out there, this niche that I found my identity within. But it wouldn’t be right not to acknowledge my boyfriend’s influence. His presence in my life has shaped it dramatically, both stylistically and professionally.
Do you think living in Melbourne has created an impact on your aesthetic?
Yes. I haven’t taken the city as a deliberate aesthetic influence but these things tend to happen subconsciously in some form or other. Melbourne is climatically speaking quite perfect for the way I prefer to dress – layers, scarves, jackets and boots, so that’s no accident. Culturally Melbourne is known for it’s art community… jewellery particularly. There seems to be a general leaning for artists to dress in black. Maybe that’s why people associate Melbourne with black. It’s not true though, we have a thriving young community of artists embracing colour. It’s pretty funny, the way I’ve grown to be this outdated stereotype in a way that alienates me to the point of perceived individuality.
If time/money wasn’t a constraint and you had the opportunity to study something completely unrelated to fashion, just for the sake of education, what would you study?
If I could have the cognitive ability to learn and understand quantum physics, that’s what I’d study. The science of explaining the universe – it’s magnificent. But for me it’s not enough to know something, to learn something rote, it needs to be fundamentally understood. I don’t have a brain for maths or numbers.
I’m agnostic with atheist leanings, and I say that because I don’t believe in a deity the way most major religions depict it – but I also couldn’t deny outright that there isn’t something. Without trying to presuppose the meaning of a god without any evidence, I sometimes wonder if the physicists will be the one to find that evidence, rooted in science, rooted in those mathematical equations too vast for my mind, to explain the universe. Not a man in the sky but some kind of algorithm, or equation inherent in everything, shared by everyone, every quark, every bit of dark matter, something that binds it all and causes it to exist. That’s what I’d study – to learn the meaning of the universe.
What has been the single most humbling experience in your journey as a contemporary jeweller so far?
Honestly, the most truly humbling thing is being commissioned for wedding and engagement jewellery. Nothing is more extraordinary than somebody saying they love your art so much they want to wear it every day for the rest of their life. It’s the ultimate compliment when someone deliberately chooses something so intrinsically a part of you for their wedding and engagement jewellery, choosing that over a ‘classic diamond solitaire’ or whatever… so devoid of individuality and personality… but choosing a piece of you, for themselves.
Where would you say is find is the best place for people to follow you, to get some insight into who you are as an artist and to see your work/s in progress?
For those curious about work in progress or new works as they are finished, I’m definitely most active on Instagram, @aliciahannahnaomi. My tumblr is a constantly updated public stream of inspiration, so it’s another interesting perspective on my work and influences. I’m aliciahannahnaomi there too.
All images courtesy of Alicia Hannah Naomi.