By Olga NIKONOVA
Anna Tereshchenkova is a famous designer, jeweller, watercolourist and master from St. Petersburg who can materialize the most daring artistic ideas that convey the harmony of the world through seemingly simple things. In her works, Anna shows that today all the most interesting things are born at the intersection of different disciplines and trends, the most attractive artistic finds are always a synthesis of technologies, traditions, and worldviews. And even such a conservative industry as jewellery cannot stand aside from these processes.
- Anna, as an artist-jeweller you are known for your woodwork, and the GOODWOOD project you have created over the years showing that the possibilities of this material are truly endless. But how do you define the so-called jewellery value of a tree for yourself?
- It seems to me that wood is a material created by nature itself for jewellery. Throughout the history of mankind, we have used wood, but we still underestimate its potential, the scope for creativity that wood gives us with its palette of colours, fantastic patterns of textures, with its environmental friendliness and tactility. Woodworking techniques are numerous and have been perfected for thousands of years, we have in our hands a malleable and absolutely flexible material from which you can create anything: the finest carving, voluminous and flat objects, shining glossy and velvety textures. One of the first exhibitions of the GOODWOOD project was held under the motto „Precious woods become jewellery”—by combining wood, metal and stones, we can create true jewellery masterpieces. Wood is a light and at the same time very durable substance, it can serve for a very long time—many wooden artifacts of very venerable age are exhibited in museums around the world. And the noble bog oak is an eternal material! And, finally, I don’t think you need to prove to anyone that wood is the most environmentally friendly material available. Its processing does not require harmful technologies, like many metals and plastics, it does not cause allergies, it is disposed of without harm to the environment. This is a wonderful, renewable resource, and the production of designer jewellery needs so little that even the most ardent environmentalists will not sound the alarm. In addition, artists are usually interested in so-called completely worthless fragments of wood— scraps of parquet, pieces of plywood, driftwood, twigs found in the brushwood. Sometimes a few strokes are enough to reveal to everyone the beauty that lurked in a piece of wood that lay under our feet. But I prefer a different approach—when you look for and find in wood the ideal material to implement your flexible ideas. Jewellery techniques ennoble wood, elevate it from the level of craft material to a pedestal of material suitable for the crystallization of human thoughts.
- Your another specialty is products with enamels. This is such a complex technique that few people dare to work with today. Why does it attract you?
- I’m not only a designer and jeweller, but also a watercolourist. I am most interested in working with colours in jewellery as well. And enamels are just very similar to watercolours. Moreover, I love all types of enamel: transparent, opaque, stained glass, cloisonné, guilloche. My favourite is a combination of stone and enamel—you get a miniature picture. But by and large, I don’t care what technology to use. To embody the image that was born in my head, we often come up with some unexpected techniques that have no name. This is exactly what distinguishes author’s things from mass production—a unique author’s technique. For the last year I have been trying to find a way to incorporate watercolours and paper into my jewellery work. It may not be very practical at first glance, but it is certainly a very interesting and expressive material.
- Today there is much debate about whether massproduced jewellery can be considered true jewellery rather than costume jewellery, and on what basis designer items made of non-traditional materials can be ranked as works of jewellery art. Where is that line for you?
- Jewellery has long been undeservedly a craft, despite the fact that this industry has always had a lot of talented artists, whose magnificent creations we admire to this day! Today it is difficult to imagine, but when in the 1970s my teacher and legendary jeweller Juta Johannesovna Paas-Alexandrova was the first jeweller to enter the Union of Artists, the painters discussed for two hours behind closed doors whether a piece of jewellery could even be considered an artistic thing and a jeweller an artist. Today the status of jewellery art is not disputed by anyone, and the methods of identifying outstanding works are essentially no different from those used to identify them in painting or sculpture. The line between a work of art and a quality piece of craftsmanship is thin, but clearly captured by the soul and heart of the viewer—art always has a thought, a feeling, an emotion —it is a reflection of the inner world of the artist and the world around us. So we can safely call jewellery bijouterie everything that does not contain the author’s approach and artistic thought. It doesn’t matter how much the item costs. For example, in things produced industrially, there are often so many technological simplifications and conventions, so many pricing policies, that there is often no room for design at all. Besides, as a jeweller of classical St. Petersburg school, I am sure that any piece of jewellery, no matter what material it is made of, must be made to be jewellery: using complex techniques, with high-quality and meticulous fulfillment of all operations. And as a designer, functionality is very important to me: by and large, a piece of jewellery does not have to be functional at all, but I want my products to be reliable and durable, and give joy to their owners for many years.