In Her Shoes: Holly Ryan – ST. AGNI

In Her Shoes: Holly Ryan


             SYDNEY, AUS
Holly Ryan is a designer, jewellery maker and sculptor already known for her eponymous and opulent jewellery line that first bloomed on the Australian home-grown fashion scene back in 2011. Since then Holly has expanded her artistic practice, stepping into large-scale sculpture and exhibiting her first formal sculpture series, A Carved Revelation, earlier this year. 
When we asked her what advice she would give to her younger self, the answer was immediate, direct and unwavering…“Always trust your gut.”


I recently listened to a podcast in which Marianne Williamson acknowledges the infamous Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo. He would lend his hand to near all artistic forms throughout his life: painting, sculpture, architecture and poetry, though sculpture arguably became his most notable expression. Legend says that when Michelangelo would approach a sculpture, he would go to the quarry to retrieve a big piece of marble but believed that the sculpture already existed. Divinity had created the sculpture and it was just his job to remove the excess marble. 
The context for the reference was imbedded in the idea that the truth of who we are lies within. That our greatest self already exists. Inside each of us is a masterpiece, could we simply shed the parts of ourselves we’ve outgrown and allow a truer form to be revealed… a process (artistic or otherwise) that could be simply described as following your intuition.
A self-confessed lover of contours and coastlines, Holly has harnessed the beauty in continuity and knows that following one’s most inner instinct leads to great inspiration, kindred spirits and the life meant for you. We know this to be true, because as we were preparing this edition of In Her Shoes we learned that Holly was travelling through Europe – Italy, to be exact.

In your own words, please tell us what you do…
I am a jewellery designer, maker and sculptor. I work as sustainably as possible using recycled metals and ethically sourced stones. Working sustainably is one of the most important considerations for me as a practitioner. As a result, we recycle everything that we can in our studios – from paper to metal scraps and even reuse pre-loved boxes for storage. 

"Working sustainably is one of the most important considerations for me as a practitioner. As a result, we recycle everything that we can – from paper to metal scraps and even reuse pre-loved boxes for storage.”

When I create, I use a combination of traditional hand construction and also utilise the ancient tradition of wax casting, which is when I sculpt my shapes from wax, before casting them to recycled metals and then finish each piece off by hand. I create two jewellery collections a year as well as one-off bespoke pieces. I exhibit a series of sculptures once a year at a gallery called Jerico Contemporary and I also create commission sculptures for clients. 
When I am not working away in one of my studios I like to spend my time in the ocean, in nature or cracking open a bottle of wine with my favourite people. 

Where are you from, and how did you come to be living life as you know it?
I was conceived in Mexico when my parents were living there and studying silversmithing in the 80’s, but I was born and grew up in Coolum Beach, QLD. I studied Fine Arts majoring in Fashion at QUT in Brisbane and then went on to launch my jewellery label as soon as I graduated. I worked back and forth between Coolum and Brisbane until deciding to move to Sydney in 2017.  

Which element of your work do you thrive off the most?
Designing and directing my campaigns, and the process of carving and sculpting my jewellery and sculptures. 

"I just love the freedom it [sculpture] gives me to create, simply for the sake of creating. Each sculpture I make is unique and I am not carving towards an end goal. I let the work evolve naturally.”

 
What does beauty look like to you?
To me beauty is natural and honest. I find it in the acceptance of flaws and in the celebration of imperfections.

What is it that you love about the medium of sculpture?
I just love the freedom it gives me to create, simply for the sake of creating. Each sculpture I make is unique and I am not carving towards an end goal. I let the work evolve naturally. I lose myself for hours creating and following contours that I guess subconsciously I find interesting or attractive. It is absolutely a form of meditation for me.

What are three things that are inspiring you right now?
Italian coastlines, Ceramics by Picasso and our human connectivity in this modern technological world.

Who, or what are you listening to right now?
Father John Misty and Leon Bridges both have new albums out that I can’t stop playing.
 
Do you have a morning ritual?
Cuddles with my dog Hugo and an espresso.

What does your ideal Sunday entail?
A sleep in followed by coffee, a swim or surf in the ocean and a long walk with Hugo. If the weather disagrees then I’m a real sucker for rom-coms on the couch and some home cooking. What else are Sunday’s for but relaxing and self-indulging?!
 

What is your favourite travel destination?
Italy! 

What is happiness to you?
Summer at the beach.

 Visit the Holly Ryan collection here
Words by Ellen Watts | @_theatelier_
Photography | @brock_fitzgerald