The Bite Magazine - Autumn/Winter 2019 - Issue 26

bite jewellery Jada Brookes speak to award-winning jewellery designer Donna Brennan about her work ethics, achievements and designs. her design signature, I liked the way she described it as “clus- ters of stones bursting forth like spring blossoms, mounted in 18-carat gold.” The jewellery designer would define London where she cur- rently lives as “a city where one can march to the tune of any music one fancies, which is exciting!”We would totally agree with that definition. Having her own label means she can work in the field with amazingly fun, kind and supportive makers,“I also love the freedom of making all my own decisions and the pride one feels when the resonance to a collection has been overwhelmingly positive.” Her first ever designed jewellery piece was a Repoussé Pebble brooch collection, using an ancient technique of shaping metal by hammering into the back of the metal to form it into shape. When it comes to constructing a piece, depending on the design, it can take several hours for a pair of small earrings and weeks for a complicated brooch with an image.While embed- ded into her work, Donna likes to lose herself in the task at hand and disconnect from all the outside noise of the world. In her opinion, the jewellery designer believes that a hand- crafted and ideally, locally made piece makes a quality product. “I love buying handmade jewellery from artists who have created something unique with strong ideas and stories behind it.” In maintaining her jewellery designing goals, she aims to always keep her work exciting and moving forward. “I’m always looking for new projects with which to challenge myself and move out of my comfort zone.” As an accomplished jewellery designer, Donna has had her work in various international museum collections, published in books, and shown at Goldsmiths’ Fair and Collect at Saatchi Gallery.“I have a ring in the famous Alice and Louis Koch col- lection of rings, which will go on permanent display at the Swiss National Museum in Zurich next week (at the time of writing). Two of my rings will be published in a forthcoming book titled From Burial to Bling: 70,000Years of Body Ornament by Patricia Anderson. The jewellers that inspire her the most come from the ‘art jewellery’ world, with an emphasis on craftsmanship and strength of conviction behind the work, including Iris Bodemer whom she says has an unusual way of working with stones and whose work she collects.When asked which celebrity she would like to design a piece for, she replied,“Being Australian, I’m immensely proud of trailblazing Australian actresses like Nicole Kidman, NaomiWatts, Margot Robbie, Cate Blanchett, and model Elle Macpherson. I also think Isla Fisher is very funny! They would be my first port of call!” Preparing for a fashion shoot or show is usually filled with a lot of intense activity and late nights so she is often running on excitement and adrenaline.“It is always a thrill to realise a new project and gather feedback!”When it comes to sketch- ing designs or constructing them, Donna said,“I’m lucky in that I often start with an idea which takes shape as I work. It’s a bit like doing the tango - I do something and the metal or stones start implementing their own moves, to which I then have to respond. Serendipity also plays a big part in the evolution of a design for me.” As colour is the mainstay of her work, Donna said that she tends “to work with a broad palette of colour and I feel that they play off each other in different combinations, which I find endlessly fascinating.” A lot of her work involves gold, which has “a strong suggestion of spirituality for me, so defi- nitely gold, usually encrusted with diamonds and semi-precious stones. There is an energy to these materials which I find immensely uplifting.” For aspiring jewellery designers, she would advise them to “be aware of what is happening in the world of jewellery. However, don’t look to other jewellers as a source of inspi- ration. [Rather use] sources like nature, art, photography, and architecture.” A very busy creative, Donna recently finished a stint at Goldsmiths’ Fair whose focus was on the ‘Art of Col- lecting’. She revealed she had some beautiful boxes made up by a local bookbinder to showcase her gorgeous rings along- side her giclee blurred photographs. One of her rings was chosen as a Goldsmiths’ Fair highlight for The Telegraph by Vanity Fair Jewellery Editor Annabel David- son who wrote, “Donna Brennan is another designer I love, who literally crochets some of her pieces from metal, strings other pieces together with tiny stitches, and transposes pho- tographs behind lucite in large sculptural brooches.” The rings on display at Goldsmiths’ Fair consisted of pieces from her Cocktail collection encased in Solander boxes and Giclee print which provides a very eye-catching sight of her amazing work. Donna Brennan’s work sits in the collection of the V&A Museum in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art (SM’s) in Hertogenbosch,The Netherlands, and the prestigious Alice & Louis Koch Collection at the National Museum in Switzer- land, among others. Her work has been recognised through a prestigious Australia Council Award for the Arts. You can catch Donna and view her work at the next Open Studios at Cockpit Arts, Holborn which takes place on 29th November to 1st December 2019.