Artist Interview: Ingrid van Heusden

Artist Interview: Ingrid van Heusden

Drawing on the idea of adornment as empowerment, Ingrid van Heusden designs and handcrafts bespoke pieces of jewellery that reflect the beauty of the natural world. Each piece of Ingrid's jewellery is handcrafted at Auckland's Whau Studios, we spoke to Ingrid about how she got starting in jewellery and how her craft has evolved...



Tell us a bit about yourself, and what prompted you to start making jewellery?

I have always been creative with a love fashion and all design. I studied a Bach of Design and Visual arts in 2008, graduating in 2011. Having majored in contemporary Jewellery, it was natural to continue making as it became an absolute passion. To say I am obsessed with metal and form would be an understatement. I also still continue to sew and design clothes. I am a useless drawer, however, I find I am successful at 3D drawing, i.e making 3D objects.


Both your parents worked in creative fields, do you think this gave you more confidence to forge a career in the arts and has their work influenced yours in any way?

Yes, both my parents were self-employed running successful businesses. I was brought up in a very creative environment and my Mother always encouraged me to be a maker, and use my hands. 


If you had to tell somebody about your work and could only show them one piece, what would you show and why?

During my degree and for graduation I worked with upcycling, mostly with human hair. This is probably the work I am most proud of as my grad presentation was a film of me painting temporal jewellery on the body with silver and gold paint bushes I made with human hair. As human hair can often revolt people and in the form of jewellery is quite out there, I have moved onto creating work with other found objects that is a little more contemporary and wearable.

So, my other favourite work is the cast seaweed bangles. Each piece is formed in the shape of the bangle and cast in silver creating a one-off piece. Each one is unique, yet captures what nature made. 


Your seagull wing necklace is perhaps one of my favourite pieces. Did you find there was a different response to whether the work was human-based (such as the hair and teeth) compared to works that used animal-sourced elements?

Thank you, the seagull necklace is a favourite for me too.

When I found the wing it was still rather fresh so I had to dry it out. I attached it to a flag pole on the deck of our Bach in the sun for a week and anyone who saw it commented on how disgusting it was! When I explained what I intended to do with it, most seemed a little hesitant. Some were intrigued and couldn't really understand why I would place a seagulls wing in a necklace. Every time I have exhibited the necklace I have had very positive reactions. I still have the necklace.


Seagull wing necklace by Ingrid van Heusden 


You work out of a group studio at Point Chevalier, how does surrounding yourself by others in the same field progress your work?

Working in a studio with other jewellers is such a wonderful experience as someone is always around to offer help, advise and a critique. We are all like-minded, however we all design and make totally different work to each other.


If you could pick one designer, dead or alive, for collaboration who would you choose and why?

There are so many designers whose work I admire, however since I have to choose one, it would be Alexander Mc Queen. His work was not only wearable but amazing sculpture. He was not afraid to show the world his dreams through his remarkable creativity. Alexander was a brave man who spotlighted the importance of free expression and often showcased the relationship between the beautiful and the grotesque. His skill with his material was diverse and elegant. I would have loved to have met him and designed jewellery and fashion with him.


Whau cuff and earrings by Ingrid van Heusden

Whau cuff by Ingrid van Heusden 


Finally, art means different things to different people - what does art mean to you?

For me, my art is a 3D expression of my imagination, dreams and passions. To me, art is an expression of the artist's mind and life.


Discover Ingrid's work here...

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