Anna Hoffman: “Modern world lacks beauty”
Anna Hoffman’s jewellery is very eclectic and cinematic to the point when you can’t say for sure you watch at improvisation or actual historical restoration. We talked to the designer about that generosity in her stylisations and philosophy behind it.
What is your jewellery for you and for the people, for the world?
My jewellery is a result of many years of studying and absorbing different cultures. I felt the need to get back to the sources of it now, when the world around is losing the beauty of traditions, rituals, the costumes, folk tales, crafts, that shaped everyday life before. I am convinced that our subconscious thirst for this has not gone away, people yearn for true beauty… So jewellery I make is more than one thing, it’s a complex, a symbol of the culture that has been lost. I’m not afraid of eclecticism. So I recreate those ancient ancestral ties, but in an allegorical, fairy-tale way, because in reality we are deprived of their spirit.
The beauty in the historical retrospect I think fits perfectly into modern life. I want to preserve the old traditions, applied art, the spirit of antiquity, preserve the richness of colours and folk patterns, fuse and transfer that into something new. It’s about the revival of cultural codes.
But why jewellery? You could choose something more obvious for that – costume design, theatre. I know you are a singer as well. Why is the area so dependent on a lot of technical knowledge, resources and time consuming?
It is difficult to say why I became a jewellery designer. I really don’t like the word designer, because for me design is practical, commercial, and what I do I rather define as art. I dreamed of making jewellery from the age of 19, but then there were not so many opportunities for studying, and my experience of taking private classes was so negative that set me back for 20 years.
My main motivation is the love I feel for jewellery. At some point I realised that no one can make it for me the way I see it.
And what is that way? What is your path of creation – from idea to final jewellery?
Every time it’s different. I rarely have a complete plan of action, there is always a place for spontaneity and improvisation. I rarely make sketches. Quite often I start from a particular gem. Follow the inspiration: it dictates the shape of the jewellery piece, colours, techniques. Other times that can be any kind of image, that arise ideas, looks. But I never see the final destination before I’ve finished. I like to think “in the material”, it knows better. I mean it shows the way.
As I’ve said already, the most powerful source of inspiration for me is historical jewellery. Different periods and cultures, I don’t have one specialisation. Today I’m in my “Byzantine period”, but I really love Roman jewellery, Egyptian, Renaissance jewellery, the Mughals treasures, Scythian gold and so on. I’m also inspired by contemporary designers that draw their inspiration from history as I do.
Do you feel like your art attracts particular people?
My clients, like me, appreciate quite a particular sort of beauty. They understand that our world has become poor, it lacks things that were made solely in the name of beauty, and not for the sake of some fashionable or commercial concepts. They are also people that work with art or are interested in it.
As far as I do almost everything myself, I don’t produce works in series. Everything is mostly one of a kind objects, rarely they are available for the broad public. I get so caught up in the process of creation that I miss out on things that are important for promotion, as simple as posting on social networks. People that follow my art are usually very close to me in a sense they look for my works on their own.
Your style is very recognisable and authentic, despite being eclectic and inheriting elements from historical or ethnic pieces. What are the techniques you use most of all?
I work in the technique of casting on a disappearing wax model. Any metal works for me. Speaking of the stones, I prefer cabochons as a form, no other limits. While I have a little experience in carving, it’s something I want to explore more. II made an intaglio on carnelian myself, I really liked it. A ring with an insert made of carved mammoth bone is currently in the process.
Also I have a series of works made of silver with carved ceramic inserts. That was my initial idea – to make ceramics worthy of jewellery. And I think I succeeded.
What, you think, is ahead of you? What is the next step for you as an artist, a jewellery designer?
Unfortunately, or fortunately, I don’t have general concepts when I think about my jewellery. It’s not “a project” for me. I never analyse my path from that position. I rely on my feelings absolutely. I act quite selfishly, with no consideration of my audience. I choose to do what I like and make what I would like to wear in the first place. This may narrow my audience, but it also attracts those people who are on the same wave with me. I don’t need to look modern and relevant in the sense of contemporary fashion.
Time ago the main motivation for me was to stop crying in museums, and now I don’t do it anymore. I feel the antiquity and its masters very well: why, how and why they did something, my hand naturally follows these thoughts. That’s the way to master my art further.