London-based Hannah Martin’s latest collection – A New Act Of Rebellion – is a call to arms, if you will. Safety pins and hardware essentials have inspired the designs that feed into the idea of the “DIY punk feel” of the collection, which is rife with references to rebellion. One of her crucial influences was Karlheinz Weinberger – a Swiss photographer, secretly documenting counter cultures from the late ’50s onwards. “The bolt was very much for him,” she shares.
Martin’s vision of a “battle dress” comprises a 25-piece collection made from 18K gold, in all colours, but predominantly yellow. “Gold is absolutely my favourite material to work with – I have a lifelong love affair with it.”
Carved malachite and ebony as accents form a statement about how we view luxury and jewellery. “I wanted it to rage and shout and be defiant in this emotion. It is a rebellion on many levels, and one of those is a rebellion against jewellery itself,” says the designer.
Unchained Warrior Threesome Cuff
What inspired this particular line and its name?
The name just appeared at some point in the process and stuck, I never know where they come from; they grow as the collection grows. Many things went into the inspiration – it grew from my feelings of discontent with the world as I was seeing it, but also as a celebration of the passions of humanity that I love.
I referenced the writing of David Wojnarowicz and Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead heavily, as well as the work of artists/photographers Karlheinz Weinberger, Ewen Spencer, Derek Ridgers, Larry Fink, Collier Schorr, and Stanley Greene, amongst others. Mad Max Fury Road played a pretty heavy part too!
In the midst of creating A New Act Of Rebellion, you lost a dear friend – Maitland Woodall-Mason. Now, you’ve dedicated the collection to him. Tell us a bit more about Maitland and how he may have influenced your designs, in spirit and person.
It is still hard to put anything about this into words. We met at St. Martin’s art school; he was also a jeweller. We were part of an amazing friendship group and all stayed very much as a family as we went down our own paths after art school. He was a hard man to describe – free and wild, kind and generous, hugely talented, infuriating and extraordinary.
I had already been working on the collection for a while, but was in the most crucial stage of the design process, absolutely wrapped up in the world I was creating. It is the stage of the process where I am wide open to everything – your heart, your brain, your soul is all working in tandem. Maitland’s death came down on me like bomb in the midst of this.
I was so raw as I finished the collection and he was with me every step of the way. It seemed like the perfect tribute – and strangely uncanny timing.
Giant Punk Pin Earring
Rebel Hero Bolt Ring
Many of the designs are a nod to safety pins and hardware. What else does it allude to?
This collection is a heavy nod to my punk roots – and I wanted to catch that feeling of spontaneity, of DIY. As if these pieces are just thrown together from whatever you can find. I used some of the very clear codes of punk – safety pins, chains, and basic hardware store essentials! I then played with the scale and the form. The idea being that they are “in-your-face” references that have been twisted and turned.
Is this collection high on unisex jewellery?
Absolutely. All the pieces in the collection are designed to be worn by men or women. I always work without a specific gender in mind for all my collections, but I think this one is probably the most strongly gender fluid body of work so far – I can’t think of a single piece that does not work for anyone.
Rebel Bolt Malachite Bangle
What prompted you to steer clear of diamonds and precious gems, and work instead with malachite and ebony?
It was a very conscious decision for me, but it is a little terrifying too – as I am not sure how people will take it. I made the decision for a number of reasons. For me, this is a direct challenge to what we view as luxury and the perceived value that has grown around certain materials.
Don’t get me wrong, I love diamonds and all stones! But I don’t believe they are the be all and end all to value. And I wanted to prove this. Ebony and malachite are beautiful and luxurious in themselves. When combined with exciting design and the beautiful weight of gold – this, for me, is as luxurious as it gets!
Secondly, this collection is supposed to be a loud yell. I wanted it to feel utterly modern. Something that will jump out at you because you feel you have not seen it before. The more I worked on the designs, the more I wanted to strip everything back to its purest form – and let the work speak for itself. It felt right. And it still feels right. Let’s see what the public thinks!