INTERVIEW WITH AURELIA YEOMANS

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Aurelia Yeomans,  Shores earrings , 2019.

Aurelia Yeomans, Shores earrings, 2019.


How long have you been a jeweller and maker?

Having started my creative life as a painter, it wasn’t until years later that I discovered jewellery when I signed up for a privately-run short course, learning basic jewellery making processes. I fell in love with the materiality of the work, being able to transform ideas off the two-dimensional canvas and into three-dimensional form. This inspired me to begin formal study in 2007, applying to a trade college in southern Germany where I learnt the traditional craft of goldsmithing and design. I later returned to Australia, continuing on with a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts), specialising in gold and silversmithing at RMIT University in Melbourne. Since graduation in 2015 I’ve been exhibiting both nationally and internationally. I have spent time developing my practice, travelling to Iceland and Germany for a residency and working on several projects, commissions and collections.

 Favourite material to work with and why?

Gold and steel. Gold: for its depth and lustre, durability, preciousness and workability. Steel: for its unconventional aesthetic in jewellery, particularly for the beautiful black finish that can be achieved through oxidisation and the combination of enamel. I’ve spent some time researching and exploring this material, combining handmade and industrial processes to create unique results.

Favourite piece of craft that you own? 

A sculptural, articulated neckpiece by jewellery designer Eduardo Herrera from Mexico. This is one of my most treasured pieces, his works are incredibly complex, and designed to move with the body. They are very beautifully and skilfully handmade.

Most treasured piece of jewellery in your own life?

My engagement ring.

Can you take us through a day of your creative process? 

Quite often inspiration will come to me for a piece just as I’m falling asleep. That lucid state between waking and dreaming is a great time for ideas to flow into my consciousness, when my analytical mind is not getting in the way. Then it’s a matter of getting into the studio, to start the process of design. I’ll often do some sketches, or make some models out of wax or cardboard. The making process itself is quite spontaneous if it is an artwork and not too heavily restricted by a brief. A day in the workshop is sometimes just time to play with materials and models; at other times a very organised process of designing, managing admin, running around to suppliers and many hours at the workbench.

You studied in Germany - how did your experience studying there and later at RMIT University influence your approach to your practice? 

The college in Germany gave me the technical skills needed for design and manufacture of handmade jewellery. The standard over there is quite high and they have a long tradition of goldsmithing that dates back thousands of years. I think having that exposure and technical training was a really important foundation, from which I was then able to explore my work conceptually at University. Continuing on with Honours at RMIT after completing my undergraduate degree was also really important in deepening my practice. This was a pivotal year for researching and making and gave me the freedom to experiment with material which also helped me to evolve my ideas and develop a strong visual language and aesthetic within my work.

Are you reading or listening to anything at the moment?

I play an enormous amount of music in the studio. It’s a fundamental part of my practice and helps me to focus while I’m making. Some artists I’m listening to right now are Mose, Kiasmos, Ólafur Arnalds, Danit, Nils Frahm, Dominik Eulberg amongst many others!

What would you say to aspiring artists beginning their journey into the world of craft?

Always continue pushing yourself and your work, and spend time exploring that. Sometimes ideas take a while to evolve too, and I think we often get too impatient and don’t give them the gestation time that they need. Don’t be scared to apply for grants, residencies, awards and exhibitions. These things have all helped me to evolve my practice, and the ones that you miss out on are often also as important as the ones you receive because you learn about the application process and where your work can develop. Always ask for feedback and take new opportunities if they feel right. One door sometimes leads to others we never knew were there…

Is there a particular activity or place you go to when you need creative rejuvenation?

Getting out into nature, particularly travelling somewhere remote, or where I can take a month or two as a breather such as doing an artist residency. Being in the mountains or the forest helps me to de-stress and calm my mind. It helps me to tap back in to my creative brain that’s not inundated with busy life schedules and social media, which are all killers for my time and creativity.

Earliest memory of craft/creating?

Making mum handwoven bags, strange lumpy ceramic objects and hundreds of sketchbooks filled with drawings that covered every page. In grade 1, I remember my classmates always commenting that they liked my drawings and were curious why I was always drawing mountains and trees.

Your work develops from a fascination with the elements - can you speak a little more about this? 

Yes, nature is a constant source of fascination for me. The elements of the earth are the alchemical building blocks of this world, and are a source of connection and life for humanity. Much like the alchemy of creating jewellery, these elemental forces tell stories of the earth, and have inspired my collections. My work is as much about the human experience as it is about nature, looking at it from the perspective of interconnectedness. My work focuses on geology, crystalline structures, geometry, metamorphosis, phenomena, organic form and the energetic systems that connect all living things. My recent collection based on ice crystals is a reflection on the element of water, consciousness, energetic frequencies and metamorphosis; while my steel and enamel collections reflect on topography, geology, erosion, growth and the deeper parts of the psyche.