I first met Natasha back in 1993 at Cockpit Arts in London’s Holborn, where I had my first studio after graduating from the RCA. Natasha is a textiles artist and we were in different studios on different sides of the building but we still became friends and have grown even closer as the years went on.
I can’t believe that it’s now been 30 years since we first met. We have so much in common but in some ways we are very different people - Natasha is calm, considered and more reserved than I am. She is a big part of my life and we go to exhibitions, shop together and are always there for each other.
I love the stories Natasha's art tells, using fabric and photographs to create layers of interest and intrigue. I commissioned Natasha to make a special piece for my father and I also have one of Natasha's artworks on my own wall which tells the story of my great grandmother. Natasha originally trained in fashion textile design and was very successful before her hobby of using textiles to create art blossomed into a career.
Natasha has a fabulous eye and everything about her is stylish, from her home to way she presents herself. She is tiny in stature and always dresses beautifully - classic with a twist. She is a huge jewellery lover and collector and has become an ambassador for the Goldsmiths Fair. Natasha always wears beautiful jewellery and I’m really honoured that she likes my work.
I thought it would be interesting to talk to Natasha about her jewellery and style so here goes….
What’s your earliest memory that involves jewellery in some way?
I have so many. Playing in my mother’s jewellery box - opening a locket that she wore around her neck that contained a photo of me. Smelling the watch strap of my father’s watch after he died. The necklace my grandmother gave me when I was eight - which I still have. Watching my mother get dressed up for a party and accessorising with jewellery - it all seemed very grown up and glamorous.
I also remember being told that I wasn’t allowed crisps for a week as a punishment (I can’t remember what for). I loved crisps so I bartered by giving my mother a jade necklace. She took the necklace and I got to munch crisps.
As an adult, when I worked in the same studio complex as Catherine, I was introduced to a wide array of really talented jewellers and often swapped my work for a piece of jewellery. Having trained in fashion textiles, I have always enjoyed styling and dressing up. Jewellery is very much a part of that.
What was the first piece of Catherine Hills Jewellery you ever wore?
It would either be the Tassel Necklace that she gave me for my 30th birthday or the Gold and Silver Five Band ring which I wore on my little finger.
Being given jewellery by the jeweller made me feel really special. I love the way Catherine picked out something that she though would suit me and it did. Catherine has a great eye for which pieces from her collection will suit each individual.
Do you have a favourite piece of Catherine Hills Jewellery?
I have two pieces left I particularly love. One is a pair of earrings that I wear most days. They are unique (at the moment, Catherine you are not allowed to make them for anyone else!).
Catherine made them for one of my birthdays, they are so easy to wear, they have lots of fine chains that hang and move, and add glamour in an understated way. I adore them. They match my second piece that is a favourite, her Baroque Cuff Bracelet.
It sits so beautifully on the arm, again adds glamour and can be worn equally well with a pair of jeans or a party dress. Her jewellery is so wearable and it moves so well with the body, that it becomes a part of you.
How does your work influence your personal style?
I’m a bit of a chameleon work wise. Artist, training therapist and mother. I think that I dress differently for each role, but the jewellery I collect is a constant. I have a Wendy Ramshaw ring that I never take off, and I layer pieces together. The thing I change daily I guess are earrings and necklaces to go with an outfit. Today I’m wearing Catherine’s oxidised Spotted Ball and Chain necklace.
My style is hard to describe. You need to ask Catherine. I think she’d say I was more classic than her. I buy good quality clothes that last. I think I buy jewellery in the same way. I have an idea of a look and how things will go together, much as I do with clothes, and can see how I might wear things, add to things etc. it has been known that I buy jewellery to match what I have on, on that day.
What do you think your style and jewellery says about you?
This is tricky to answer! I’d say what I collect is eclectic, subtle and bold, classic, forward thinking, beautifully made, fits the mood of the day and no matter how large or small its wearable, and adds a subtle or bold accent.
Tell us about a piece of jewellery you have bought as a gift?
I bought a beautiful pair of cream ceramic long dangly earrings for my niece for her eighteenth birthday made by Ruth Tomlinson. And my son who is eleven is really getting into jewellery, he has stolen, with my permission, a simple bracelet/bangle that was mine. He calls it his lucky bracelet. It is very special and important to him. It is, in some way teaching him to look after something precious. He is a very sporty boy, and I was surprised that he was responding to jewellery too. I know that he is now after a neck chain. I imagine I will be having a chat with Catherine about that one day soon!