Martina Hamilton is an Irish Designer that many will be familiar with and for good reason. Her design career began over 25 years ago when she did a degree in Fine Art (Sculpture) and then she immediately embarked upon a career as a goldsmith and designer. From then she has had an amazing career and I am delighted to be featuring her on Floralesque today.
Can you please tell us a little bit about how the Martina Hamilton Brand came to be?
The early collections were called “Spirit of Ireland” and “The Cat and the Moon” and remain the leading sellers for the studio outlet which bears testament to their design quality and authenticity.
The “Spirit of Ireland” collection is rooted in the bronze age heritage and physical landscape of my home county of Sligo. I was deeply inspired as a sculptor by the work of our ancient forebears and I decided to celebrate it a richly as I could in my early jewellery designs. I took their symbolism – now believed to be connected to stars and planetary movements – as a starting point.
My early designs became a statement of identity, I was saying this who I am, these are the traditions that have made me, this is the landscape the rocks and stones and rivers and coastline from which I come and to which I belong.
With her name established Martina turned to creating more feminine collections under the brand ”The Cat and the Moon.” Native Irish flora provided her with the natural geometry of design flowing from leaves, flowers, buds and stems. But the geometry was offset with a dramatic randomness of texture that brought these florae inspired pieces stunningly to life in metallic forms.
The Martina Hamilton collection was launched and with this new brand came a focus on striking contemporary statement pieces. In so many ways I can see now these collections are a fusion of my earlier designs. In many of the designs I’m still being inspired by the randomness of form I find in nature. I’m bringing much more of my own sensibilities and interpretation to the original inspiration, to that spark I still find turning over shells on the beach.
A moon, worn as if it had been a shell
Washed by time’s waters as they rose and fell (Adam’s Curse, WB Yeats)
You have done some amazing commission work. What has been your favourite commissioned piece that you have created to date?
We are all only as good as our last work and for me the Seashore Collection of Rings I have being playing with all year have evolved and developed in a lovely way. Customers have commissioned variations in Gold, Platinum and with precious stones and diamonds.
Another recent commission from the National Museum of Ireland to create a collection of jewellery celebrating the warrior queens of ancient Ireland delivered the Showcase 2015 Award Winning Bean Ri collection.
Although I am sure hard to choose – what is your proudest moment to date?
I just sold 3 pieces from my New Collection Today!! It doesn’t matter how long I am making, I love direct feedback customers as this gives me confidence to continuing designing.
Have you noticed a trend in recent years for people wanting to buy Irish designed pieces?
Yes People are much more aware of quality and design and supporting local makers.
As an elected representative of the DCCOI – do you think it is important for up and coming designers to get involved and start networking early?
Absolutely I would encourage all Newbies to reach out to the community of artists and makers, joining with others to form groups, share information and help each other.
Would you have any advice for someone looking to start a career in design?
Get lots of relative work experience and take a long view, it takes time to build up a brand and make relationships with your customers.
Can you tell us a little about your new ‘Shore Collection’?
Sligo, (Sligeach in Irish) means the shelly place. The Wild Atlantic waves crash ashore, piling up long golden beaches of broken shells and weathered stone over the millennia. Shards of broken shell picked randomly along Streedagh beach in North Sligo have inspired the New Shore Collection.
What does the future hold for the Martina Hamilton brand?
I look forward to Launch of “Shore” this evening Thursday 1st September.
Shore will also be launched at International jewellery Show London this week. I am already working on the next collection for 2017 ! SSh its Top Secret!!
With new signature collections emerging annually – Martina is destined to remain at the forefront of contemporary Irish design and jewellery making for a great many years to come and I honestly cannot wait to see what the future holds for this very talented Irish Designer.
And I also have to give a quick mention to the ‘The Cat & the Moon’ – a beautiful store in Sligo that has grown to be one of the leading Irish Retailers showcasing and selling Irish made Designs and Crafts. Whenever I am home in Sligo there is nothing I enjoy more than popping in to see what amazing pieces that she has on display. It is home to so many beautifully designed pieces and Martina has created such a beautiful space where Irish Design is appreciated and loved.
A massive thank you to Martina for doing the interview as I know that things are busy in the run up to the new ‘Shore Collection’ launch this evening in the Cat & the Moon in Sligo.
The Cat & the Moon is located in 4 Castle Street Sligo and the launch is from 5pm-7pm on Thursday 01st September 2016 (Today!!).
They’ll be raising a glass or two of sparkle to go along with the sparkle of new silver, pearls and gold. And you are all very welcome to attend the launch!!
If you enjoyed this interview in the ‘Floralesque Meets’ Series, then you can click here to read more exciting interviews with designers, creators, artists, photographers, entrepreneurs and more – enjoy meeting the makers!