Paula Walden, jeweller and artist, The Carousel

Every challenge presents an opportunity to learn and grow. I’m grateful and feel inspired by change and challenges ...

How many of us can say they followed through on their answers to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For Paula Walden the answer was simple – she wanted to be a jewellery maker. Since before coming to Australia from Papua New Guinea at the age of seven, Paula has been obsessed with crafting unique and engaging pieces of jewellery. This early commitment went on far beyond a simple childhood dream, with Paula going on to study the craft as a young adult and beyond. Now, Paula Walden’s pieces are highly sought-after, with her work going on to be showcased in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Garage Magazine and more. Paula recently teamed up with Stage ONE and Westfield Chermside to create The Carousel, a functioning ride-meets-installation that comes complete with intricate and gorgeous headpieces adorning each horse. We took to opportunity to find out more about Paula’s obsession with jewellery and how she came to be involved with The Carousel project.

We hear you discovered a love of jewellery design at a young age. What was it that captured your imagination?
I was born and raised in Papua New Guinea and my family had a beach house out of town that my father built. We would regularly visit the house and the beach, which was picture perfect with colourful reefs, clear water and islands in the distance. I would spend my days exploring the environment with natives who had a village not so far. I think that life often. The freedom and imagination that came alongside our trips is what captured my imagination. 

When you started your own jewellery line, what was and still is your personal design and aesthetic ethos?
My parent ethos is the ‘contrast in line’ theory – straight line and curve line. Straight line is about design and rational thought whilst curve line reflects feeling and being an artist. I consciously alternate between the two in order to achieve balance within my practice.

Where do you find your inspiration for your design work?
My main inspiration is an artist-jeweller by the name of Rene Lalique as he had no boundaries within his work. He was a fine jeweller, artist, sculptor, glass maker and he challenged convention. I feel like I fall in love every time I see his work.

You are also the mastermind behind Yellow Studios – what can you tell us about this project?
Yellow Studios is a little chick that’s been waiting to hatch since a trip to New York in 2010. The intent with Yellow Studios is to showcase jewellery and how it coincides with fashion, art and sculpture as installations. Beneath that all, the motive is about helping fellow creatives and small-mid sector organisations like my family here at Metro Art.

How does PW Fine Jewellery and Yellow Studios differ in terms of how pieces are conceived and created?
The PW Fine Jewellery brand represents the traditional side of jewellery – re-establishing high-quality jewellery while also making it more accessible to Australians. The Yellow Studios brand is about showcasing jewellery in a contemporary way where fine jewellery, fashion and art combine into installations.

Not only are you a fantastic jeweller, but you are also a multi-disciplinary artist. What subjects do you like exploring through art?
From the very first collection I made, yellow equated to triangles, red to circles and blue to squares, The Yellow Studios strategy is based on that concept which I’m exploring further with two and three dimensional art.

We absolutely love the look of The Carousel! What can you tell us about how the project came together?
It’s been a fantastic project and the perfect fit! I was approached by Westfield Chermside with the opportunity to work together to bring The Carousel to life. I loved the concept and the rest is history as they say.

You handcrafted each headpiece featured on The Carousel, how did you approach each piece in order to merge modern and classic aesthetics?
As well as handcrafted and sculpted headpieces, we laser cut the adorning material to give a sleek modern finish whilst the classic side adhered to traditional forms such as boater hats, bows and butterflies. 

You’ve collaborated with some huge brands and had your work featured around the world, but we want to know what you’d say is your career highlight to date?
The Carousel with Westfield Chermside is definitely a career highlight, especially seeing it live in centre! Another highlight would be an installation collaboration I did a few years ago with Georges Antoni, which also draws parallels to The Carousel. Funny how both are about sculpture and space!

What are you currently finding inspiring and enlightening about the world around you?
Every challenge presents an opportunity to learn and grow. I’m grateful and feel inspired by change and challenges. Enlightenment is seen though the people I surround myself with – my team and my friends.

You can see The Carousel in person at Westfield Chermside until Wednesday August 16.


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