Completedworks – Palpable Poetry by Anna Jewsbury

Words:
April Wan
Photographer:
Chuen hon LC

Anna Jewsbury – the founder and artistic director of Completedworks, sat down with us in her stylish showroom in central London, allowing us into her universe. Completedworks began as a jewellery brand, continuously intending to explore “social commentary through a new visual language.” For Jewsbury, the jewellery conveys more information about the wearer than clothing – jewellery is a choice; it shares interests of one’s taste in art & design. In her words, it is an “inestimable luxury”. She extended her brand into ceramics – playing with the ongoing juxtaposition theme of using hard materials while imitating more willowy ones. What’s next for Anna Jewsbury? She’s shared with us her ongoing community initiative to help support inner-city school children through ceramic classes, linking in their focus on the “dying art of practical work.” Read our chat below on her childhood memories in Yorkshire, her favourite jewellery pieces & how Completedworks became an outward extension of her.

April Wan: We heard that you have a habit of collecting things – like during walks by the beach in Yorkshire that turned into jewellery making sessions with seashells when you were a kid. Do you feel like our childhood mundane actions often turn into our life’s purpose?
Anna Jewsbury: I feel lucky everyday to get to do what I do. I get to explore ideas that interest me and run with that which feels like an inestimable luxury. I think there is a lot to be said for tapping back to activities you enjoyed as a child. When we developed our showroom which opened earlier this year, it was important that we also created a space where we could run ceramic classes for clients. It can be a very meditative thing to do if you let yourself be free in it. Clay can be very emotive as a medium – the clay moves with your hand movements, you look at it and it suggests things to you, you move again and the clay moves and through this process you get a sort of dialogue.
AW: Do you have a jewellery piece that you cherish that was passed down from a family member? If so, can you share the story behind it?
AJ: I have this photo that I love of me and my mum during a trip to the Philippines when I was a baby. And in the photo she was wearing these really simple gold hoops that she used to wear a lot at the time and have since made their way into my possession!
AW: You pursued the goal of creating a platform providing a “beautiful visual language.” How did Completedworks end up being a jewellery and ceramics brand?
AJ: In starting Completedworks, I think I was driven by a desire to create something new, something with a hint of a sort of social commentary as well as creating a new visual language through the pieces. There was this feeling that sculpture could be more accessible and fashion could be more thoughtful. Jewellery is this perfect medium that has an incredible element of longevity to it by virtue of the material, as well as communicating something about the wearer – their taste in art and design – for the very reason that you don’t need to wear jewellery, you’ve chosen to wear it. Clothes, in contrast, have to be worn, they have a utility that I find absent in jewellery. And it’s the same with decorative ceramics. I feel we can make a broader connection with people through jewellery and objects than other mediums.
AW: The brand has sublime and subtle pieces that look soft to the touch (Seam vase & Notsobig Scrunch earrings for example) – and yet are made with materials of clay and metal. How did your team master this practice? 
AJ: It’s something we keep coming back to with every collection, these sort of aesthetic juxtapositions – the hard metal or clay forms imitate a much softer and more supple material and through this juxtaposition a relationship is established between the wearer and the viewer of the piece, who observes and interprets the qualities of the material they are viewing,causing them to look twice.
It often requires a different approach depending on the piece or material you’re sampling in and a lot of layers of process and experimentation, but I like this challenge.
AW: Completedworks ethos is mirrored through everything the brand does – from your Instagram to IRL dinner parties. Is this aesthetic an outward extension of yourself?
AJ: I think in some ways it can’t help but be an outward extension of me in the same way that anyone that chooses to wear one of our pieces or place one of our objects in their home is also self-expressing.
AW: How did you come up with the name Completedworks?
AJ: We chose the name we thought best reflected our approach to the brand. We wanted it to convey the idea that you can only get a full understanding of something when it is over and you can see the entire picture, the complete works or whatever. Brands don’t like to think that they won’t go on forever, but without being fatalistic we think there is something interesting about giving some consideration to the end when you’re still in the early stages. We hope the name will focus the brand and ensure that a core set of themes will run through the entire course of our work, no matter the environment we are working in.
AW: What are some jewellery pieces that are versatile for day and evening wear?
AJ: I love to wear almost all of my jewellery interchangeably for day and evening. For me there is no need to make a strict distinction but I love to wear jewellery that feels like it is creating an unexpected contrast somehow – either to dress up or dress down an outfit depending on mood or occasion.
AW: If you could only have one ceramic piece in your home – which one would it be?AJ: Probably our Squeezed vase because it explores a theme we are constantly coming back to across both jewellery and objects.
AW: You’ve spoken of the pieces not being designed in a vacuum, but instead they reference how we spend our days. What’s your daily routine? How do you think that reflects on your designs?
AJ: Every day is different for me. But when I have the time, I try to make sure I read as much as I can or if I need inspiration I might pop by a gallery. The great thing about galleries is that by their nature they make you stop and observe. But actually if you just take the time to keep your eyes open outside of a gallery too you can find inspiration anywhere.
AW: What’s on your studio playlist these days?
AJ: We have quite an eclectic playlist which we often get collaborators from our community to suggest additions so it’s ever evolving (playlist). 
AW: Your pieces look very poetic, do you feel like there is a link between poetry / literature and jewellery?
AJ: I think we always start off from a much broader point. We look to find ideas by accident: we read and watch and listen relentlessly in the hope that something will set off a stray thought or image. Sometimes we find ourselves mining our subjects from contemporary, everyday life or from a series of ideas that for some reason captures our interest. We then spend time trying to put that idea into words and then we look for visual ways to explore what we have been talking about – mainly from the art world and photography.
AW: What’s next for Completedworks and what are you excited about?
AJ: More experimentation and hopefully some collaborations. We’ve also been making progress with our community initiatives – supporting inner-city school children through ceramic classes – which is part of our project focusing on the dying art of practical work.
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