We Can't Get Enough Of Holly Ryan's Redfern Home And Studio
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we head to the Redfern home and studio of leading Australian jeweller, designer and artist, Holly Ryan. A perennial creator, Ryan sits at the helm of her eponymous fine jewellery line; a collection of wearable art and sculptural heirlooms. Her high-fashion pieces are hand-crafted and made exclusively with recycled and sustainable materials. The daughter of two silversmiths, Ryan studied fashion design at university before making her way back to jewellery, and then in 2017 moved into the realm of sculpting. Her hand-chiselled faces and figures sold out as soon as they were unveiled, and secured her representation with one of Sydney’s most exciting galleries, Jerico Contemporary. Here, we sit down with Ryan to discuss what getting a good night’s sleep means to her, her creative process and the single tool she’s used to grow her creative business. (It’s probably how you found her to begin with.)
A cursory glance at Holly Ryan’s home reveals that this space houses an artist. (And that’s before you make way to her studio.) Pieces by Christiane Spangsberg, Paige Northwood and Kitty Callaghan line the walls and mantel; while the coffee table is hidden under hardcovers on Calder, Picasso and Rodin. It’s an eclectic and inviting space that starts with warm wooden floors and one-off vintage finds, which provide a backdrop for layers of thoughtful styling. Ryan’s favourite space in the house? “My bedroom,” which she calls her cabin. “It’s timber-clad and looks like a sauna without feeling like one. There is plenty of room with books and record stacks everywhere, a record player, a couch and lots of candles and incense. It’s a quiet space for me to disappear to,” she says, and we can’t say we blame her.
Hi Holly! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
I hand-make silver and gold jewellery as well as hand-chisel, build or carve sandstone, limestone, timber and bronze sculptures.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
I am most myself with my hands at work, when I fully immerse myself in the act of making. It’s here that I am at peace with the world and myself.
When did you start creating art and jewellery? And what inspired you to go down this route with your career?
I studied fashion design at QUT and graduated in 2010. I launched my jewellery label in 2010 and begun making sculptures in early 2017. I have always loved art and design and had been making things by hand since I was a small child—so in terms of choosing a career, there was no other choice for me.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
With pure emotion and sheer determination. My work is my catharsis, making things is a form of release for me, so I start with raw materials in my hands and begin to create intuitively until there is an end result I am happy with.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to start their creative business?
Always be grateful for the lessons and the incredible people who support you in realising your dreams.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you’ve started?
Learning something new every day, working with people I admire greatly and travelling to foreign lands.
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
One year next week.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
I rent my home from a friend who is also a jeweller. She had the studio already set up and running, so when I saw the space I just knew.
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
It wasn’t necessary to renovate, however I have decorated it in my own style and it is far more minimal now. My interior style draws of elements from the 70s and is quite bohemian, too.
What are your favourite pieces in your home?
My art collection! Paintings by Holly Rhodes, Jedda Daisy Culley, Annalisa Ferraris and Jamie Priesz; drawings by Christiane Spangsberg; a terracotta vessel by artist Paige Northwood, a metal skateboard sculpture by Luke Chiswell; a metal weaving by Poppy Kural; a collage by Kitty Callaghan and photography by Keelan Tracey, Akila Berjaoui and Riley Blakeway.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
I really want a new rug, I’m off to Nepal and India in October for a two week hike from Kathmanda to base camp Mt. Everest and to visit my fair-trade partners in Jaipur so will be on the hunt.
What are your top tips for a well-styled home?
Simplicity and colours that personally make you feel good or calm. I love warm lighting, candles and incense.
What does getting a good night’s sleep mean to you?
Tea and a good book to help me drift off and in the morning, being so well rested that I wake up ready to seize the day before my alarm goes off.
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
I’m about to release a sustainable-denim collaboration with Neuw Denim, a range of handcrafted baby amber necklaces in collaboration with The Vista and I am currently working on my next solo exhibition at Jerico Contemporary gallery, opening April 30th, 2020.