Phoebe is a Canberra based jewellery designer who specialises in working with industrial materials to create elegant, seamless designs. Even though these materials are difficult to manipulate, in all of her designs, Phoebe delivers the perfect balance of jewellery that is innovative yet wearable. See Phoebe’s work at DESIGN Canberra Living Rooms exhibition in the Braddon House on Sunday November 13.
What inspires your designs and what are you trying to achieve through their production?
Each of my designs are refined to its necessary elements, often using the fastening mechanism as a starting point, which then becomes integral to the design. All my work is designed to be worn – I enjoy the challenge of designing pieces that can stand alone as sculptural objects, yet come alive when being worn.
What is the best thing about being a jewellery designer?
I love that craft, and particularly jewellery, works in opposition to the throw away aspects of contemporary culture, as jewellery is one of few things still cherished over time and eventually passed on.
Jewellery also has another life beyond the studio and gallery, when a piece becomes part of its owner’s life and narrative. I still get a real kick out of spotting someone out and about wearing a piece of mine – it’s the ultimate gratification as a jewellery maker.
Why did you use stainless steel as your primary medium and what is the most challenging thing about working with this material?
I work predominantly with industrial materials including titanium, stainless steel and aluminium which I combine with precious materials or specially sourced industrial components. These materials are difficult to work with as they are less malleable than silver and gold – their hardness makes them time consuming and particularly brutal on my tools! Yet their strength allows me to make pieces that very fine yet very robust. I exploit the properties of each material in the function of my pieces, for instance I use spring hard stainless steel for my earring wires which allows them the keep their shape over many years of wear.
Canberra has undergone a lot of change in the last few years. How has the evolution of Canberra’s social and cultural scene changed your design practice?
I moved back to Canberra in 2013 after spending 8 years living in Melbourne, very much enjoying the thriving contemporary jewellery scene there. Certainly Canberra had changed a lot in that time I was away and continues to evolve as a city with its own thriving cultural scene.
Our unique history as a designed city and home to many world class cultural institutions makes this a fantastic place to be a creative practitioner – events such as Design Canberra and Contour 556 really highlight this evolution. What hasn’t changed is the highly supportive creative community in Canberra. Working from my purpose built studio at ANCA, enjoying the continued support of the Gold and Silversmithing workshop at the ANU School of Art as one if its Alumni, as well as recent CAPO and Arts ACT grants are all examples of the many benefits of working in Canberra.