Vikki Kassioras on the stories in her work…
We recently spoke with Vikki Kassioras about the stories behind her work…
While in my Honours year at RMIT, Robert Baines introduced me to fusing. I instantly responded to the technique; to me it was a very immediate way of using metal. You don’t add anything to the sterling silver (no solder), it is carefully heated and because of its copper content it fuses together seamlessly. You can manipulate and control the material to a certain extent but there are little things that happen that you can’t control—the resulting surface and texture…these things happen and they give the piece a feeling of individuality. Every chain and every link is different and it’s all and only the metal…the purity of that, the simplicity of that, appeals to me and informs the Meteora chains I make.
I started making earrings when I started making work for e.g.etal. The form and beauty of the Meteora chain I was making leant itself to earrings. I’m really interested in tribal jewellery and classical jewellery, which both feature a lot of earrings. I’ve researched the ancient idea that earrings ward off evil and protect you…people wore shiny earrings to dazzle spirits so they wouldn’t cause you any harm. I think these are interesting stories that humans attach to earrings that also happen to make people look really beautiful because they focus on a certain part of your body. I also started making them because it was a nice exercise to make things that looked the same, so it was also a bit of a technical challenge for me.
O Beautiful, O Graceful One bangle:
This line comes from a fragment of poetry by Sappho. I think her words are beautiful and still poignant…so beautifully human, even after such a long time. I read a translation by a lady called Ann Carson. I think her words have a romantic quality. I imagine that if Sappho lived now, in this time and spoke English, these are the words she would use, which is why I use that translation. The words I choose to inscribe in my jewellery are the ones that I find beautiful or meaningful…these words speak to me. Sometimes I might glance at a fragment and all of a sudden I’m interested in it. The choice of words also depends on what I’m thinking at the time.
Golden Eternity ring:
The Golden Eternity ring is a simple band with six diamonds evenly spaced around it. The idea of an eternity ring is not new; it’s a very traditional jewellery piece. In the past it was given at a certain point after getting married. I like the idea that somebody would give someone a ring that represents the idea of forever: it’s an unbroken circle studded with diamonds, which will last a lifetime and beyond. The other work I made at the same time is all about journeys and mountains, travelling and pathways…in that way making a ring that references a kind of eternal journey is a nice reflection of the kinds of journeys that people will hopefully make together.
Golden Mountain 8 Diamond Trail ring:
These rings were referencing the journey I took when I did the Annapurna trek in Nepal. The ‘diamond trail’ came from the idea of leaving something behind while on a journey, so you can pick your path, just like Hansel and Gretel. When you’re travelling and walking this is sometimes a process that you go through while doing something rigorous or strenuous. The idea of symbolically leaving something behind while making a difficult journey—maybe something you think, or something you feel—is essentially like picking a path in a literal or pragmatic way to get you through tough travels. I like the idea of leaving something behind on that path in order to grow on the other side…also eight is a lucky number.
Golden Path ring:
All of the Golden Path rings were designed together. These rings are about travelling and choosing a path or going on a journey. They reference having little points along the way where you stop and consider…the little diamonds are like markers along that path. They’re also supposed to look like landscapes: like something that has been carved out of rock, especially the Golden Mountain ring. I carve the rings from wax and cast them to suggest that feeling. It’s about making sure that things have the right proportion, but are still well made and comfortable to wear.
The story in Vikki’s work…
I think in the past people used stories a lot more to understand their own human condition. It helps explain what we go through, and I think we’ve always done that.
I think mythology played a part in that, as did archetypal symbols. The snake is a symbol that resonates with me (not actual snakes, I’m a bit scared of actual snakes) but I like that really potent symbology that they have and have had for lots and lots of people. Hindu myths, classical myths, South America, Asia, Europe…the snake as a symbol resonates everywhere. For example, Ouroboros is the snake that eats its own tail and represents the idea of continuity and shedding your skin. There is a Hindu myth where the earth is portrayed as a turtle and there’s a snake around it. Here’s a picture of the cosmos. Again the snake is wrapped around the turtle and its tail is in its mouth. I think that humans like the idea of having powerful symbols from nature on our side—almost like you can use something of that strength or energy in yourself.
Basically I think humans have thought about all these things for a long time and have gathered all these stories…these stories would have come from raw feelings: being a human and being in this world, not understanding your place in it and trying to find some kind of meaning…stories help to make things easier and to make sense of things around you.
In our modern world we’re a little bit…well, we’ve somewhat lost touch with those things. I like to make jewellery that can resonate with someone and their own story—giving them space to think about where their story fits in with things. Or they simply have a piece of jewellery that can remind them of something special. I guess that’s what I hope my pieces will do for people.