In the Beginning
Ever since I can remember I have loved drawing, sculpture, embroidery or sewing. I studied art in a professional capacity but people are sometimes surprised to learn that this did not include jewelry making or silversmithing.
Yet, I have always been drawn to jewelry as a form of expression and, given that I have stayed involved in several fields of creativity at once, the area of collage came naturally to me. “Matchmaking” materials is what I love to do: testing contrasts, colors and textures and how they interact together.
Combining beads and soft tassels with jagged surfaces; matte textures with shiny metals. For me, the possibilities are boundless and anything can trigger creative impulse.
At the very beginning, jewelry was simply a means of earning a living. Back in the 1980s when I first started, most jewelry tended to be made of precious metals such as gold and silver as well as modeling clays, which was popular at the time. Being an outsider, I actually had an advantage. My designs were different. Unexpected. They incorporated materials that were unconventional: metals with fabrics, beads, plaster, wood and different findings.
I was actually selling miniature artifacts. The initial collections had mosaic-like qualities to them, virtually reminiscent of the ancient Byzantine era. Through time, my design aesthetics have increasingly reflected influences in the fashion world and seasonal color changes.
My main source of inspiration has always been the materials themselves rather than ideas that come from within.
Other influences that have captivated me include my cultural background. My grandmother, who is still alive at the age 104, emigrated from Afghanistan to Israel in the 1920s. She carried her baby for most of the 2000 mile journey. This baby was my father. At one point, I visited a museum featuring jewels from Afghanistan. As I walked through the gallery, I was amazed. I noticed the parallels between the artifacts on display and my own work.
At the beginning, my jewelry was like miniature mosaics made of beads, crushed glass, mineral stones, decorative prints, wood and ceramics. I combined these materials to create collages. On one occasion, I incorporated autumn leaves that I had picked up on the way to my studio. Things that come into my life unplanned or by chance, may later take shape in the form jewelry. I introduce random elements that I come across, and it has become the way that I express myself creatively.
The collage-style that goes back to my early days still serves as the basis of the “Classic Collection” today.
In the mid-1990s, I travelled to India to find interesting beads. Instead, I found silks and fabrics that excited me. Back in my studio, I made beads made out of these fabrics, giving birth to what is now known as the “Hip Collection”. This collection has evolved over time, incorporating textiles from around the world and has now become linked with the brand.
Given that many of my collections use such a diverse variety of elements, at a certain point in time, I decided to create a simplified range. This has evolved into what has become known as the “Radiance Collection” which predominantly involves the use of glass with colorful prints and motifs.
In the last few years, I was inspired to create jewelry using yarn which stemmed from my background in costume design. This was the “Tulipa Collection”. My inspiration came directly from nature itself: sprouting leaves, flowering bulbs and multi-colored petals.
Yet, in contrast to these soft organic forms, more recently, I have been drawn to metals. This is reflected in the “Indigo Collection” which focuses on delicate filigree and hints of strong color.
In the commercial market, compromises need to be made. I too have to conform. But from time to time, I indulge. I stray. I abandon convention. I make individual pieces that have an experimental touch which involves a sense of freedom. Jewelry that reflects what I want to do at the time and nothing more. This we have called the 'Signature Group'.
I am happy to think that I can bring joy to others through what I make. I am fortunate to have the scope to develop and refresh my collections rather than remain static. It is my hope to continue to evoke curiosity and intrigue through my artistic productivity . For me, this is the true essence of what Ayala Bar stands for.