How Anna Davern weaves her undersea worlds
Anna Davern’s iconic reef earrings have been a staple in the e.g.etal collection for nearly 15 years – a testament to the timelessness of her work.
Originally designed for an exhibition installation, the form of the woven frames and the vibrant colours of the beads referenced the corals and fishes that are found in Australia’s ocean reefs.
They are the perfect example of Anna’s brilliant sense of colour and fun, and how she imbues her work with humour and warmth.
We chat to Anna about the inspiration behind the design, and the enduring nature of her work.
How did you come up with the concept of the reef earrings?
I had my first solo exhibition with e.g.etal in 2000 when the gallery was located in Little Collins Street (I’m pretty excited to see the gallery return to the same precinct this year). The gallery had this lovely little window box that was as wide as the shop front but not very tall or deep and it was a little bit like an aquarium or fish tank. I loved the idea that it could be its own little world, with tiny creatures or organisms that made their home inside.
I made a series of tiny pod-like forms that hung from the top of the window box and each of the pods was threaded with tiny glass beads using the same technique that I now use for my reef earrings and neck pieces. It looked like an undersea cave of precious cocoons which is how I came up with the name for the Reef range.
The form of the reef earrings and pendants also reflect the shapes and forms of traditional gem set jewellery. The weaving technique enables large graphic fields of colour using precious and semi-precious gemstone beads.
How do you choose the colour combinations of these gemstones?
I can spend hours going through my bead collection! I just put beads together in different combinations until something sings. Some of my favourite combinations are pale pink coral and variscite, turquoise and ruby, and tsavorite garnet and emerald. And I absolutely love working with sapphire beads. They are found in so many different colours but they always have a particular hue which is so delicious!
Why do you think it has been such an enduring collection?
I think because their design is quite simple but still allows for a wide variety of form and colour. Also, because with so many facets on so many beads, they’re very sparkly!
Below, you can find a video by Filmmaker Mark Newbound who has captured Anna Davern as she hand makes a pair of her much-loved ‘Reef’ earrings, from start to finish.