“I knew I wanted to be a jeweller when I was seven years old, roaming the jungles of Papua New Guinea,” says Paula Walden, who now shares her time between Brisbane and Paris.
Paula designs contemporary jewellery and accessories inspired by period artists such as René Lalique, Salvador Dalí and Cartier. Refining her skillset over the years, today Paula is a true multidisciplinary artist.
“I enjoy challenging the boundaries where jewellery, fashion and art coincide by creating imaginative, never-before-seen scenarios,” says Paula.
From sketching to working with fine alloys for jewellery and anything from acrylic to wood for her accessories, options for materials are endless for Paula. “At the moment I’m sculpting shoes in clay that are to be cast in brass.” But these pieces are no easy feat: each handmade piece takes time to perfect, all with Paula’s ideal customer in the back of her mind. “She’s flamboyant and fun by nature of dress yet intelligent and grounded, too cool to care and young at heart,” says Paula.
Conceptually influenced, Paula is currently working on her sub-brand, Yellow. Paula describes the strong ethos behind Yellow as “jewellery deserving a grander presence, contrary to simply being seen in detail to the fashioned body”.
Having worked with many high-profile figures in the industry, Paula says one of her greatest influences is photographer Georges Antoni.
“I initially modelled for him when I was 21, then he borrowed a series of headpieces that were styled as masks and the imagery was published in Oyster Magazine. I then copied the butterfly image from the series, which made it into an installation sculpture for his exhibition, Wabi Sabi. And, most recently, I was fortunate to make his wedding rings,” says Paula.
Out of all her creations, Paula says the one which is closest to her heart (and also her most popular design) is the art deco-style ring she wears every day.
“I made it as a second-year apprentice and it defines who I am. It is unadulterated and symmetric by design whilst referencing my love of contrast in line. I feel very empowered yet humble by wearing it as I made it at the very beginning of my journey with jewellery.”
So what does the future hold for Paula? She says she feels as though she is “at the very beginning of exciting things to come” as she looks forward to making Yellow an internationally-recognised brand. Next year, she will work with Georges Antoni to showcase a jewellery collection extended into an installation exhibition in Paris.
“I can't reveal too much; however, I'm incredibly excited to be working alongside he and Jolyon Mason [a high-tier Sydney stylist] on this.”