In Conversation with Hattie Wragg
Queen's Wood Studio
What is your favourite travel destination and why?
At the moment I am obsessed with Palava, it’s a set of hills south of Brno so you can cycle there in four hours. It’s this lump of rock that comes out of the flat landscape around it. There’s something elemental about it that really inspires me. I did my latest photoshoot there. It’s where they found one of the oldest artworks, a ceramic Venus, so there was a really ancient people living there. They have mammoth ruins, and I just love the sense of ancient in that place. I definitely have a sense of peace there.
Your favourite film that motivates & inspires you.
I was studying during my PhD how writers are inspired by films. There’s one I find really devastating, it’s called ‘In a Lonely Place’. It’s a black and white film starring Humphrey Bogart in the lead.
Tell us something about your brand.
It’s contemporary sustainable jewellery. I work with recycled material in an eco-friendly way. So I use non-toxic chemicals in my studio and recycled packaging. I feel like in the world today we are kind of wondering how to be. So like a lot of people seeking mindfulness with yoga or going for walks in the countryside on the weekend in an attempt to recapture something they feel is missing.
So my latest collection is negotiating that desire to be both in society but also a bit wild. I see that because the recycled silver that I use is from electronics, medical equipment, jewellery, so quite prosaic man-made angular forms and I melt it down and let it flow in an organic way. I see it like rewilding the silver. I got quite interested in the story of swan maidens, it’s a folk tale which has all sorts of variations of it all over the world. She’s this figure that can be a swan in the wild and a woman in human society and take her place in both worlds. So I feel like my latest collection is jewellery that has been in the human world but it is also being wild so allowing you to access some of that feeling, so what are we, have we got any wilderness still or are we just socialised beings? It’s something I think about. Also, the lines are natural, it’s how the mineral would act in the world and scientifically that’s pleasing to look at, apparently our brains find peace in natural curves and our stress hormones are triggered when you see something angular. Possibly an evolutionary phenomenon, if you see an arrow coming for you or something sharp, your brain says alert. So my jewellery is quite peaceful to look at.
What value are you trying to create through your work?
When I started I realised that I can do this in a sustainable way, and then I gradually learned about it. I discovered quite early on in my making history, one of my suppliers offered me recycled silver and that just sparked off a eureka moment that there’s a sustainable way of jewellery. I realised that every choice I made could have a positive impact. Jewellery can be a very ugly business in terms of the human cost of mining and the environmental cost. So I really didn’t want to be a part of that business, which is why I used recycled silver or gold, and the gemstones are either reclaimed from used jewellery or they are vintage. One of my suppliers buys old stock from retire jewellers, so there’s material that exists and isn’t being used. So I choose not to be a part of the industry that mines and cuts more, I don’t do that. But this means that all my collections need to be small because you can’t get huge amounts of the same thing, but I really enjoy that. Every piece I approach as a new challenge and a new story to create. So what started as a desire to be sustainable actually feeds back into my work and I really enjoy that.
I also use non-toxic alternatives to chemicals in my studio, so citric acid. And also the packaging I use is recycled and is then further recyclable.