F: We are used to visual darkness in your work (blackened silvers) and your aesthetic, what led you to discover the light (gold) in your recent collection ‘Reveries’?
AHN: Well I never found gold particularly pleasing growing up because for the longest time I never saw anyone using gold in a contemporary way - gold was always reserved for very traditionally designed jewellery or brash costume jewellery. As I found clients who resonated with the stories I was telling with my work, I found myself being approached more frequently to do special occasion jewellery such as engagement rings; which led to more requests for pieces in gold.
The inspiration was two-fold, because not only was I seeing how I could tell my own stories in gold successfully, but I was also developing a new appreciation for gold as a medium - it gets alloyed differently to silver and responds differently to my tools. It has a velvety decadence to work with that's surprising and seductive - and as far as darkness goes, the purer the alloy the darker the tone of the metal is naturally; 18ct yellow and white golds have an implicit moodiness to them that lend themselves to the nature of my texturing in a way that silver simply cannot.
Up until this point all my collections were designed with silver in mind - though I began turning some of those designs into gold to give my clients an idea of how the textures translate - I felt that I had enough understanding of the medium to be able to tell a new story specifically in gold.
The narrative of this collection is set in a space of reawakening - the way the sun flares hotly behind your eyelids as you come out of slumber; you are toeing the abyss between being awake and asleep... rousing but still dreaming; and in this space, everything is surreal and maybe a little disturbing in it's inherent oblivion.
F: Your collection’s namesake ‘Reveries’ plays on the idea of being caught in one’s own pleasant thought, what ignites your daydreams?
AHN: I'm a chronic daydreamer, but if I'm trying to make the most out the way my mind wanders, I find myself turning towards art; particularly works of abstraction, deconstruction or otherwise allusionary content that makes my mind fill with questions, ideas and suppositions. I like large-scale, dark, grotesque, baroque, abstract pieces that I can get absolutely lost in. Artists whose work I turn to frequently include Francis Bacon, Nicola Samori, Jesse Draxler, Alselm Kierfer and Olivier de Sagazan.
F: If you could wake from slumber anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
AHN: The Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon in Iceland underneath the Aurora Borealis. I'm obsessed with glaciers and it's my lifelong dream to see the Northern Lights; so the glacial lagoon is really my dream destination in every respect. But going there to see the lights is fraught in difficultly - not only due to the expense of travelling so far away, but the unpredictability of whether the lights will actually appear and then of course - the extreme cold, as you most certainly have to go in winter... however I just could not think of any more utterly inspiring destination to awaken in.
F: You are a one woman operation, from design to fruition. As a female independent designer in Melbourne, what challenges have you had to overcome and how have they shaped your practice?
AHN: Well I'm very lucky in that there are no real limitations on me as a woman in the jewellery industry - it's one of the few expressions that's both a trade and an art form so it appeals to men and women alike across all facets of trade. The wonderful thing about this industry is that it's welcoming and nurturing; you can reach out to other jewellers for help or advice - you're never not learning and everyone is willing to share what they know because if you're good at what you do, you're still coming at that shared technique with a different voice.
Being an independent operation certainly has it's challenges though; lately I'm wearing a lot of new hats. I've spent the last five years building my practice out of nothing - just a love of the craft and an innate need to express myself. A lot of people start this way, but I've learnt that being able to express myself is not why I run a business - I run a business because it means I get to express myself. So business comes first, art comes later; you've got to be prepared to put on all those hats.