"My creative practice connects me to the universe, makes me feel ‘in sync’ with the world."
BY ANASTASIA STEPNOVA
Anastasia Stepnova, a Cork-based silversmith, expresses the joy of creating art while experiencing a new cultural identity.
There are numerous ways to make the world a better place but my favourite is through art. I’ve been creating since I remember. I studied Fine Arts as a child in Russia, graduated in Architecture in Italy, worked in different areas of design in both countries and now I am a silversmith here in beautiful Ireland.
I spent six beautiful years in Italy where I moved from my native country - Russia. I met my husband in Italy where our son was born. We are Russian-Italian by origins and Irish 'by adoption', and we are definitely at home here. I know many mixed nationality families like ours and many families who moved to Ireland from other countries, and I find it interesting to think that probably the cultural identity of our children would be very different from ours. I am regularly surprised to hear my son speaking 'As Gaeilge' for homework (one of his favourite subjects at school). I think this is a very interesting generation and I’m incredibly curious to see them grow. Personally, after seven years I am still learning to understand Ireland better, so probably my cultural identity will continue to change through time.
What I found out to be true and extremely helpful is - not to wait for the perfect moment to create.
.... Preparation is key...
Now, I’d like to share about art. I believe creating art of any form, makes the world better for oneself. My creative practice connects me to the universe, makes me feel ‘in sync’ with the world. And if one’s fortunate to share their art with other people, the connection strengthens. And I can tell you, it is a wonderful thrill, your 'wow' moment, sparkles everywhere, when somebody chooses to have an object you’ve created. I am so grateful to those who wear my jewellery or chose it to gift their loved ones.
We live in a world full of excess material objects, and we’re constantly invited to fill our lives with them. I create jewellery, essentially an 'unnecessary' product. The irony is I do not support consumerism. I admit I find myself indulging at times too. However, I urge you to buy an artist’s creation, authentic, personal and meaningful. It is bound to stay with you and will bring you joy for a long time.
Creating my jewellery was my lifeboat during lockdown as well. Although it wasn’t easy. I certainly had time but finding the right mood and inspiration was a challenge. What I found out to be true and extremely helpful is - not to wait for the perfect moment to create. If you work full-time and you are a mother of a young child, chances are you’ll grow old waiting for a perfect moment and it still won’t come. Preparation is key. It’s crucial to be set up. A free desk with pencils and notebooks at hand, to scribble that idea buzzing in your head in those 15 minutes while the dinner is in the oven and the child is busy with Lego. Start a big project but divide it into small phases. Those tiny moments and tiny creations eventually will find their way into a big, complete work.
During the lockdown I was struggling to find inspiration. I had many ideas but couldn’t fall in love with any of them, nothing felt good enough. So I decided to sign-up for a jewellery making competition to nudge me, to have a goal (and a deadline!). The project I chose was titled “Creative Hope” and aimed at sharing hope through creativity. This resonated with me. And thanks to this project I created one of my best pieces so far. My submission - a ring that I called “Hydrangea” to represent hope through a metaphor of hydrangea petals, fresh and fading ones mixed together. My ring won second place in the Beginner’s category, but most importantly I got that creative boost that I needed so badly, and my inspiration hasn't left me yet.
As for myself, after 7 years I am still learning to understand Ireland better, so probably my cultural identity will continue to change through time.
Nature drives my work and Ireland is sure the best place to be. I love Irish forests in summer, they make you feel right in the middle of a fairy tale. When I walked in Gougane Barra forest for the first time, I simply couldn’t believe it was the real world. And I am in love with the seaside in winter with its gloomy colours and edgy shapes of the rocks. The enchanting blackbirds are found in plenty in Ireland and it seems appropriate to call my jewellery brand name ‘37 blackbirds’. They are sweet and elegant and full of symbolic and spiritual meaning. Irish nature is pure magic and I hope my silver pieces carry nuggets of it inside!