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Article: Ruby Jack Meets: Michaela Yearwood-Dan & Roxane Wing

Ruby Jack Meets: Michaela Yearwood-Dan & Roxane Wing

Ruby Jack Meets: Michaela Yearwood-Dan & Roxane Wing

Visual Artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan
Do you have a daily routine when working and if so, can you give us a run down?
I like to wake up between 7.30-8am and leisurely set myself up for the day aiming to get to the studio before 10.30. Once I’m in the studio ill be there anywhere between 6pm-middnight. My days are pretty varied floating between painting, reading, making ceramics and doing admin – unless I have a deadline looming I usually just work on whatever I feel like doing once the admin is up to date.

When you feel stuck with a painting, what do you do to get un-stuck?
Ignore it. Start a new one. Come back to it when I feel ready to do so.
Michaela Yearwood-Dan
Who are your favourite artists, curators, or other thinkers to follow on social media right now and why?
I love the chaotic-good and nuanced ideas of FlexMami. I feel like I could be here forever if I had to list all my favourite artists but I will say curatorially I think Black Blossoms and She Curates are doing amazing things. Also of course a massive shout out to Adelaide and all the team at Tiwani Contemporary, the gallery that represents my work.

What inspired you to wear Ruby Jack, and which designs did you choose?
I noticed Ruby’s account engaging with my art before I checked out the brand and once I did I was obsessed! Firstly I’m a girl who loves her chunky gold jewellery but there’s something about the unique energy of Ruby Jack pieces that literally blew me away. I have the Odd Couple Earrings which remind me of my mum as she loves to wear odd earrings and the Baby Hydra Choker.

Why painting? And who or what turned you on to paint?
I was always good at it and enjoyed its solitude and expression. My dad always encouraged my creativity, taking me to galleries and museums as a child, but I’m very grateful for my teachers in school who also encouraged me that it was a lucrative path to go down (not like there were many teachers who did this or that I'm not super stubborn and would have done whatever I wanted regardless).

What is the most important piece of creative advice you have ever received?
I feel like I've drawn a blank – but I will say that MY advice is to create the most honest work that you can create, don’t compare yourself to others and to always read the contract twice.

Who or what are you creating for, other than for yourself?
For all the young women trying to find their way in the world – especially the black ones.

What does the adornment of jewellery mean to you and how does it make you feel?
Whole. Without at least one item I feel incomplete.

Find out more about Michaela's work:
Roxane Wing - Photo credit: © Jasmin Panjeta
Please tell me a bit about your current creative practice/projects and what work you're most excited about right now.

I'd always been someone who loved to make things, and loved things that had been made by others. At the same time I didn't exactly love being on Earth; I felt like I had missed a memo everyone else got, like I was doing it 'wrong'. Am I being a human wrong? So my art practice has been me trying to discover the core parts of me being human, and then inject that with joy and beauty. Where did I come from? What did people before us know? How do people honour what is good? My range is very wide. I get excited about history, magic, ritual, and banal daily life. Cave paintings, medieval pottery, Kuniyoshi's endless cat drawings, skeletons discovered with gold teeth, women brushing their hair. It gets both silly and mystical, which is a good double descriptor for humans. I've come to believe art is a mystical practice that unites the banality of matter with the evanescence of human spirit. Toggling back and forth between functional design (ceramic) and 'non-functional' sculpture and painting helps me play with that line a lot.

Currently I'm developing a project about my ancestors, whom I've traced back to medieval England, Austria and Germany. I hope it can be a form of ancestor work and shadow work, while allowing me to continue the general human investigation. I've been seeking and experimenting broadly, and am just starting to bring it together. Hope to share more soon.
Roxane Wing
What inspired you to wear Ruby Jack, and which design/s did you choose?

I love the simultaneously ancient and timeless look of Ruby Jack pieces. They could be worn in a Star Trek episode. They could be worn by a Roman in 200 BC. They're earthy and strong in a world where so much is flimsy. I hope my granddaughter inherits them one day and is like "damn, grandma was so cool."

I've got the Dancer and the Curve Ballet in blue, both in matching sets. I love wearing them symmetrically, also seeing all the possible asymmetrical combinations is making me want to step outside my comfort zone... I've also just treated myself to The Hydra Earrings.

Who or what are you creating for, other than for yourself?

I hope I'm creating for people who will find an unexpected joy in a piece, a new way of looking at some part of their world. Like a girl who likes seeing a different take on female bodies. Someone who didn't know a skeleton could look so comforting.

Hopefully the ancestor project will open up some discussion for white people on our own history and how we've forgotten how to see ourselves as a set of ethnicities, or part of 'tribes'. In our current age, the hard work of carrying and making sense of the past has been on the shoulders of people of colour, who've been doing the work gracefully and powerfully, but alone. As a white person I need to acknowledge an ancestral part in the suffering, and assist in actively imagining a better way forward. I'm not sure I have all the tools I need for this yet, but better to start imperfectly than not at all.

What is one of the biggest challenges for you as an artist, turning your creativity in to something that can pay the bills as well as keep you sane?

My big challenge is always: becoming aware of how I'm hampering myself. Because I'm interested in so many things I tend to get strung out between many different projects. I can get caught up in details that don't really matter. If I can't get a clear sense of something I'll just drop the whole project until a later moment, in the hopes that the answer will magically come to me. (Obviously the answer never magically comes to me.) It only ever comes through taking risks, accepting imperfections, grinding out failures. This also goes for the non-artistic parts of life: learning how to price my work, how to do taxes, how to design the process around creating so that I don't handicap myself more than necessary. For instance, knowing my tools, having the table at the right height, having enough light to work with. It sounds too easy, but if I haven't consciously realised something is hampering me in my process I won't have been able to fix it.

What is the most important piece of creative advice you have ever received?

The advice came to me in the Dutch word "exercitie" (like an exercise, trial, practice). I had just started at an ad agency and a colleague briefed me, saying, "Don't try to get it in one go. Just make a bunch of exercises and that'll be what we need to develop the finalised design." Until then, some part of me had been convinced it was all or nothing; if I didn't get it right in one, it was because I wasn't good enough and never would be. But suddenly I was not only allowed, but expected to do and redo and redo again, and it was very liberating. We're supposed to 'fail' in our artistic process, because only through 'failing' (practising!) and observing those results, will we be able to put together something we like. Ha!

What does the adornment of jewellery mean to you and how does it make you feel?

Jewellery is this amazing thing that humans have always loved and been interested in. It's this way for us to interact with matter, creating decorative or ritual objects for self-expression; to tell a story or establish a self. I also love that some cultures actively make the family wealth into jewellery and wear it at important occasions. Something that is making a comeback now that I love is wearing precious stones not only for their look and value, but because of their symbolism or affinities. This personal interaction with the material is so charming to me, a conscious daily expression of who we want to be.

Describe your ideal friday night (but keep it family friendly)

We're sitting outside in the verdant garden of a very old stone house in the south of France. The night is warm, insects are chirping, we're drinking light wine. The metal folding chairs are just a little rickety, we find out when the cat suddenly jumps on your lap. The moon is almost full, and bright enough to see by. In the middle distance a woman is singing, possibly a prayer, possibly something she just made up. Tomorrow morning we will go to the market to see what the farmers have harvested.

Find out more about Roxane's work @roxanewing

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