Unorthodox

In conversation with Monastery Jewellery.

Though the name might suggest otherwise, this brand is in no way orthodox. We delve into the intricate world of Monastery Jewellery, where each piece carries within itself the unique philosophy of the label and the utmost care that goes into its creation.

Could you share the story behind the name “Monastery” and how it reflects the brand’s philosophy?

Monastery is named to reflect this pursuit of solitude and strength in the face of our fast- paced world. It also represents a kind of austerity and grace that I associate with my work. I like the idea of jewellery being hard, maybe even difficult to wear, that there is a certain discipline in wearing items that are heavy, strangely shaped or audible – there’s nothing more lovely than when one wears stacks of metal on their arms and they make music as they move! A lot of what I do intersects with my interest in ascetism as a phenomenon and a spiritual practice. My brand isn’t intended to be religious in anyway but I do like the idea of discipline and devotion, especially in a world that seems to shirk those kinds of endeavours. When I named my brand Monastery, I honestly hadn’t thought about it too hard but now it seems very apt when I think of the aesthetic I’m trying to convey.

Your passion in getting experimental with jewelry designing, interpreting them as wearable sculptures, makes them truly a work of art. Can you elaborate on how you balance the line between jewellery and art?

It’s impossible to define what ‘art’ is. I can only speak as a jeweller, as a collector of jewellery and as someone with a keen interest in the history of adornment. I don’t like jewellery that has no intention. I don’t see the point in designing a thin ring band that one barely notices. I think jewellery should challenge the wearer. I like the idea of the body displaying these ‘wearable sculptures.’ I’m fascinated by the anthropology of jewellery; how it came to be that we value these pieces of metal that we mould to our bodies and what putting on a piece of jewellery every day can mean. I love the idea of jewellery being a boundary between our flesh and the flesh of the world. The jewellery I make needs to convey this symbolic magnitude and so they come with a kind of sculptural appearance.

Your brand represents “austere solitude” in contrast to the chaos of the world. How does this philosophy tie into the concept of solitary expression and what you aim to convey through your jewellery designs?

My work has always been very personal and I’m lucky enough to have cultivated a small following of people who seem to really identify with it. I like to think of my pieces as statements for quiet or introverted people who favour the avant-garde or alternative things in life. My work has always been a kind of refusal of trend, consumption and noise. I make everything myself, by hand and this in itself is a solitary practice which is extremely therapeutic for me. I don’t have big production lines or stock. Perhaps it’s passe to say but I really put my energy into each individual piece I make; this is important to me. This in and of itself is a somewhat monastic attitude.

For an indigenous brand, the idea of making bold statements is often a device that amplifies creative narration. Using that as a tool, you must have created some impactful or thought-provoking pieces with meaningful messages. Could you provide a few examples of some of the pieces and their narrative that stand out to you, personally?

I suffer from cluster headaches and I live a very quiet and regimented life, so the writings of people like Simone Weil and Hildegard of Bingen really stood out to me as these mystical explorations of the real world through notions of discipline and asceticism. I really find it interesting to make adornment that requires attention. With a lot of my work, you don’t ‘forget’ you’re wearing it, its weight and size cannot allow that. And this kind of attention is required in the making of my work too. The flow of metal, the elemental and demanding labour of making means, in my opinion, that that item should be as consequential in it’s existence as the way it was created. I love to get lost in the making process, but I also try to be intentional.

Unorthodox / Monastery Jewellery

Credits:

Jewellery: Monastery Jewellery / @monastery_jewellery
Photography: Brett Rubin / @brettrubin_studio
Stylist: Ashleigh Mcculloch / @ashleighlmcculloch
Model: Lindo Mbonani / @lindombonani

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