Q & A with Rachel Laura Gorman
We’re incredibly proud to welcome Rachel Laura Gorman to the e.g.etal fold, bringing with her a whimsical and romantic jewellery collection that she has been crafting for us over many months. Keen eyed followers may recall seeing her painted floral creations profiled on The Design Files. Since then, Rachel has developed her work into a new range for e.g.etal which incorporates colourful gems, new botanical motifs, and a range of delicate charm necklaces.
Rachel’s jewellery draws inspiration from the natural world, particularly plants and flowers. The concept of ‘the garden’ underpins her work; not only as a space of visual stimuli but as a broader metaphor for the complexities of existence – the cycles of life and death, of beauty and decay.
We asked Rachel about her passions and process.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Eclectic – like a garden in bloom. My heritage is Russian. My jewellery is perhaps of another time, ancient and antique. Feminine – with a delicate boldness. I am very inspired by early botanical illustrations – strange compositions, attention to detail, unique colouring. There is flamboyance and romance – qualities I’ve admired in Art Nouveau, Italian Giardinetti and Victorian jewellery.
Your practice combines both jewellery making and floristry – how do you balance these two trades and how do they inform each other?
Working in two creative industries is a challenge. But both jewellery and floristry are about generosity and creativity. They are also about celebration and loss. There is always an exchange. I have been making jewellery for over ten years, and came to floristry in 2012 because all my jewellery was botanical. I wanted to make it more of a study; to learn about the science of flowers – botanical history, identification and care. I was also really interested in exploring the ‘language of flowers’ and how this could be incorporated into jewellery. This concept was born in the Victorian era and related to the symbolism and secret messages plants and flowers can impart when given as a gift.
What made you choose flowers as the reference point for your jewellery?
I started utilising floral forms in my work at university. It was a way to learn about construction, but there was also something deeper. Plant and floral motifs have become a visual language for me – a way to express the unspoken. Darker emotions, quiet desires, secret longings. I studied the work of French master jeweller, Rene Lalique, who incorporated a lot of botanical and wild life in his work. I found his work so romantic and poetic. Botanical motifs seems to marry life’s beauties and sentiments so well.
How do you approach creating a new work – do you sit and examine a particular flower, do you sketch, or do the ideas spring from an imagined bloom?
I do all of these things depending on the piece. I take a lot of photos while out walking. I’m always looking at small details, subtle colour transitions and textures. I think of my practice as ‘observational dreaming’. I collate, draw and model in wax before a piece is cast into metal. Conversation with a client is very important and significant during the process – capturing what is important for them, or what they would like to see bloom in a piece of jewellery. I enjoy this exchange and it can often inspire new directions. I began by making floral rings from my memory, but as botany become more of a study, I began to explore more detailed representation of actual species. I am trying to balance the quality of both these things now – things imagined and dreamed of, with actual representations.
What are your favourite materials to work with?
Wax and metal. I hand model in wax, and cast in silver or gold. I like the softness and malleability of wax. Its sensitivity to detail. And then comes the permanence of it all in metal; a capturing of otherwise transient forms. Things bloom and decay in nature, but in jewellery they stay. Gemstones have become more of a recent feature in my work. They have allowed me to further illustrate the intricacies found in the natural world. I also hand engrave into my work. I really enjoy this illustrative mark making. It personalises each piece. In the past I have I have saw pierced, domed, shaped, painted and enamelled. I sometimes incorporate beaded components into my work too, particularly in my necklaces and earrings. The processes and materials I work with have been used in jewellery making for centuries. They are so old. I enjoy participating in this long practice of making.
How would you like people to respond to your work?
I would like it to be a joyous thing. For me the beauty and depth of nature is a gift, and I would like to share this with people. There is quiet appreciation and contemplation in what I create. I see making as a dialogue – an exchange. A thing that happens when you walk with a friend in the garden, and anything is possible.