Profile: Jeweller Inari Kiuru
By Sonia Nair
Inari Kiuru, winner of the jewellery Australasian Student Design Award talks about her passion for crafting pieces, what inspires her and her aspirations for the future.
When jewellery designer Inari Kiuru was seven years old, she had a clear vision of what she wanted to be when she grew up. Asked to illustrate what she would like to do as an adult, Kiuru drew a lady with massive hair in a screaming pink dress, balanced in outstanding golden platform shoes. Underneath the picture, she wrote in shaky but bold letters: When I grow up, I am going to be a nightclub singer and own a kennel.
Kiuru’s aspirations to lead an unusual lifestyle were somewhat realised when she worked a short stint at a cemetery. Only after a spate of odd jobs, when Kiuru was in the last year of her visual communications degree, did she realise she wanted to make jewellery.
“I wanted to make three-dimensional things that one could touch, wear and could transform the wearer into something else in an instant!” Kiuru says.
For those who grew up with Kiuru, the seeds for her jewellery design passion had been sown at a young age.
“I was always going to be an artist of some kind and my parents were very encouraging of this,” Kiuru says. I grew up in an environment which wholeheartedly accepted, nurtured and encouraged the search, contemplation and daily use of artefacts.”
From a dad who would journey to the end of the earth and back seeking the perfect gift for his wife, to sisters who are professional jewellery and graphic designers, it seems that a flair for art and a desire to tread the unknown runs in the Kiuru family.
Kiuru undertook her first instance of formal studies in gold and silversmithing at Curtin University in 2002 and enrolled in RMIT as a gold and silversmithing student in 2008 when she moved to Melbourne.
She recently made headlines after bagging the top prize in the jewellery design category of the 2011 Australasian Student Design Awards (ASDA) for her series of jewellery, ‘Winter Thoughts’.
Kiuru migrated to Australia from her native Finland in 1995, but insists that her heritage often comes through in her work. She says that the colours, clean lines and dark tones prevalent in ‘Winter Thoughts’ were inspired by the bare landscape of Finland’s colder months.
A crystal brooch from Kiuru's award-winning 'Winter Thoughts' series.
“I lived my childhood and teens in Eastern Finland, close to a forest and lake,” Kiuru says. “My early summers were spent running around barefoot, collecting stones, plants and berries, making stuff and playing with my friends in the nearby forests; the winters gave us all the sculpting materials we needed.
“I think this almost spiritual relationship to the natural world around us had an effect more profound on me as an artist than all my schooling put together.”
The Australasian Student Design Awards’ special emphasis on sustainable materials is an issue that resonates strongly with Kiuru.
“True sustainability is something that requires a change much deeper than we may currently realise; in the way we live, consume, travel, create. Everything. It will take a long time and is only possible through slow, individual change.”
Kiuru’s way of adhering to sustainability is through her jewellery.
“My contribution to social commentary, including my thoughts on sustainability, is to think about things that are important to me, quietly and alone, and to express them in ways that feel true to me.”
The culmination of this thought process – in the case of the Australasian Student Design Awards – was a series of jewellery made from non-toxic, low-cost materials usually reserved for industrial uses.
Kiuru draws inspiration from a disparate range of things – rubbish, shadows, people’s faces and expressions, random clusters of colour, construction caterpillars, the flamenco.
The gold and silversmithing honours student at RMIT enjoys working most with non-traditional materials such as liquid enamels, glue, wax, plastics and mild steel.
Kiuru partly attributes this inclination to her ‘Gemini’ zodiac sign that means she’s always trying new things.
“I derive inspiration from different materials; from how they appear, how they speak, what they say to me, rather than what I want to say through them,” Kiuru says.
Kiuru hard at work etching a vessel
If Kiuru had another life, she says she would pursue research in medicine, make a careers in competitive sport or perhaps even obtain a pilot’s license.
For now however, she is concentrating on developing her technical skills as a jeweller.
“I would love to obtain an apprenticeship to study with a traditional master somewhere in the world while also researching completely new materials and methods – manual and digital – for both jewellery and objects,” she says.
Kiuru intends to achieve this by travelling to Asia, Europe and the US to see how other jewellers live and work but she is not restricting herself to observing likeminded peers.
“I would love like to work with a lighting designer to see how form and light come together or a florist or even a structural engineer so I could take rides on cranes to inspect high sites and create large works,” she says.
Her dream collaborations are not confined to the conventional choices either – if she had a chance, Kiuru would love to work with a contemporary dance choreographer, a science-fiction film director or her favourite writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Although Kiuru never realised her dream of singing, donning a pair of golden platform shoes and owning a kennel, she will always be one to defy conventions.
“I would like to work with someone on the other side of the world whom I don’t understand in words, but with whom we could make a new language with through jewellery making.”
Part of the material for this article was obtained from Craft Victoria's interview with Kiuru in 2010 for its Fresh Graduate Exhibition. All the photos with the exception of one were taken by Inari Kiuru. To view more of Kiuru's jewellery and photography, visit www.inarikiuru.blogspot.com.
Posted May 03, 2011