Tania Clarke Hall’s jewellery turns heads and starts conversations. Her pieces are striking in size, shape, form, colour and technique. Indeed, Prue Leith is a fan and is often seen wearing one of Tania’s designs. But what’s most surprising is the core material she uses in her designs – leather. Yet it’s leather as you’ve never seen it before – a subtle yet bold, innovative, playful yet sophisticated approach to working with the material, and ultimately to jewellery design itself, that breaks conventions.
Pictured: Tania Clarke Hall. Photo by Pari Naderi
HER PALETTE INCLUDES BOLD PRIMARY COLOURS AS WELL AS BLACK LEATHER PIECES
None of this comes as a surprise when you learn that Tania first studied chemistry before turning to textiles, then jewellery, studying under Caroline Broadhead, a key figure in the conceptual jewellery movement of the late 70s/early 80s and now Professor Emerita at Central Saint Martin’s.
The three disciplines interact, sometimes unexpectedly yet always seamlessly in a Tania Clarke Hall piece. A self-confessed visual butterfly and constant experimenter, there are myriad influences at play in her work, from architecture, sculpture and 1960s papercraft to the sights and sounds of her daily cycle around London. They all contribute to her ‘what if’ ideas – things that catch her eye, make her smile and prompt her to explore how to translate them in her work.
The results are gorgeous, collectable pieces that are hugely wearable and incredibly versatile. Shapes including twists, ruffles, lines and freeform lend their names to some of her collections. Her palette includes bold primary colours as well as black leather pieces that become extraordinary with the addition of freshwater pearls, gold foil or coloured edge dyes ranging from subtle metallics to bright reds. The several hundred delicate 22ct gold lines on her ‘Freehand Lines Necklace’ are tooled by hand to create a dynamic line pattern. Each necklace is therefore unique and like many of her pieces available in limited numbers. Her ‘Rhapsody in Pearl’ necklace combines dozens of pearls with black leather in an edgy take on the classic string of pearls, inspired by the New York skyline
and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.
Her long, gold lariat necklaces which featured in her earliest collections when she started out 13 years ago are classic items that are still best sellers. And that’s also the joy of owning a Tania Clarke Hall piece, it’s completely timeless. Rather than a constant stream of new collections that chase trends, that come and go, Tania focuses on creating pieces that are meaningful to her and so exist beyond time.
Photo by Pari Naderi
Tania Clarke Hall has a deep love for the material she has dedicated herself to. She is fascinated by the natural beauty of the long pieces of strong saddle leather that she works with as well as its technical possibilities. But it’s what happens when you cut into the material that really excites her; the complex, fibrous texture of the cut edges and the possibilities they represent, as opposed to the surface of the hide that many leather artists have traditionally chosen. She also feels liberated to be working in a field, using a material where few have gone before and where there are so few references and conventions.
As well as her collections, Tania also creates unique, one off pieces, as commissions for clients who love her aesthetic but want an entirely bespoke piece. Yet what excites her most looking forwards, is the challenge she has set herself of creating a number of unique statement pieces each year, taking time to experiment with fresh, innovative designs. We can’t wait to see the results.
Studio E6, Cockpit Arts, Cockpit Yard, Northington St, London WC1N 2NP