The series of interviews with women and men who have personalities, story to tell and their own GEM style. They make it happen for themselves all over the world and follow GEMOLOGUE by Liza Urla.
As a budding self-taught artist, Annya Sand loaded all her pictures in a van and drove it to every gallery in London. Her perseverance paid off, and since then she has exhibited from Saatchi Gallery to the Houses of Parliament. Her art is often political and thoughtful, in a diplomatic rather than subversive manner.
Annya is the epitome of a crazy jewellery aficionado, so she was the perfect candidate for my GEM TALK series. She has a deep personal connection to jewellery: her father was a well-known and respected jeweller in Kazakhstan so she was surrounded by it since she was a little girl. For herself, Annya carefully chooses one-off pieces, and every jewel in her collection comes with a special story. In addition, as a polymath creative soul, she is currently working on a lot of sketches of jewellery herself inspired by my late father’s work: a new talented player in the jewellery world to watch!
Name: Annya Sand
Alma Mater: American Intercontinental University and Public Affairs, London School of Economics
Hometown: Almaty, Kazakhstan
LOCATION AT TIME OF INTERVIEW:
I am currently in London enjoying the short-lived autumn sunshine at The Ivy Chelsea Garden. I love London, it’s my home after-all! I enjoy visiting and exploring the city and its restaurants and galleries. I am consistently on a path of discovery so also like to discover new places of interest. Being an artist, I spend a considerable amount of time in the Serpentine Gallery, the Tate Modern, and wondering around West and East London for artistic stimulation and inspiration.
IN THE BEGINNING:
I started painting at a very young age and consider myself self-taught. Art has always been an essential part of me and comes naturally. Plus I have always had creative influences in my family – my father was a jeweller and my grandfather was an architect. They both nurtured my love for art and inspired me to develop my own artistic style.
I sold my first collection at the age of 20 and the excitement of this inspired me to pursue art as my main career. However, I must be honest, it was not easy in the beginning. I was constantly pushing my work and emailing various galleries in London looking for representation. I did this for over a year and hardly got any responses, which was very upsetting. However, it didn’t stop me pursuing my dream! So, one day I decided to rent a van, loaded it with my work and drove to each and every one of the galleries in London. After a long day and a lot of shocked faces, one gallery responded in a very positive way. Funnily enough, having that one gallery liking my work then generated more and more interest amongst the other galleries. The snowball effect!
SHOP THE LOOK:
My first solo exhibition in London was titled ‘Expressions from Kazakhstan’ at the King’s Road Gallery back in 2008. Since then, I have shown at various spaces all over London from Asia House, to The Saatchi Gallery, to Gallery Elena Shchukina and even at The Houses of Parliament for the ‘Study of Russia’ exhibition. I regularly participate in large-scale art fairs and public events too.
In July this year I took part in an international art forum, the Art Camp, organised by the Andorran National Commission for UNESCO. The purpose of the Art Camp was to create a pool of original works of art to reflect creative and artistic expressions of the participants of the programme. More than 30 countries were represented at this programme and I was chosen as the only representative of the UK and Kazakhstan, after a specific selection process. It was such an amazing experience which opened my mind and heart to new cultures, experiences and point of views. The works which we created at the Art Camp will be exhibited at the UNESCO and UN headquarters in Andorra, Paris, New York, Geneva and Venice.
Political art started to play an important role in my work in the last few years. I started to create installations to reflect my view on the current state of the world in general. The first one is called “Reflection of Our Generation”, carries the thought that nowadays any seemingly ‘junk’ idea can be turned into a kind of ideology. In my eyes, many that were considered beautiful and moral by the previous generations, are no longer viewed as such anymore, and arguably vice versa. I wanted to portray my view of confused, brainwashed generation who seem willing to sacrifice their lives for skewed ideas and continue to invent new principles to suit them. My second installation, called “Suppression, Limitation and Manipulation”, reflects the state of mind, and way of life, of an “ordinary” human being living in our times. It shows that we live in a Marionette Society and that modern society is being manipulated by religious beliefs, politics, social media, ignorance and narrow-mindedness.
My three bracelets represent three main religions – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. All three of them represent a part of me, my family, and my upbringing. By wearing them I would like to show that I am not willing to choose one or another, but rather to be proud practising all three and be tolerant of everyone and everything these religions represent.
POWER COMES FROM:
My main strength and power come from within, but I also gain power from outside influences. I love life and people, and everything that comes with it. I draw inspiration from the world around me and I use my own experience and knowledge to live my life as I do.
A good moisturiser, eyeliner, and plenty of sleep (if I am lucky to get it! )
SHOP THE LOOK:
TOPSHOP OR CHANEL:
I love patterns and I tend to buy designers who use patterns in their work, either Etro, Marni or upcoming young designers. I often tailor the clothes that I buy, or design and make them myself. My style reflects my personality – I like to combine elegance with modernity and, most importantly, comfort. I don’t like obvious glamour and I have become very anti-fur lately. The last item I bought was a pair of funky Lucy Choi casual shoes in an electric blue colour.
Yes, I do, but only for the essentials. I tend to buy the main pieces of my wardrobe in person. I need to see and touch the fabric and feel the clothes on me before I decide if they can become a part of me.
Jewellery is quite an important part of me. It is a personal connection to my family and its history. I wear my pieces daily and I rarely take them off. This is because they are very symbolic to me. I also have one-off going-out pieces and something that my friends gave or created for me. I try to choose unique pieces with outstanding quality. I am doing a lot of jewellery sketches at the moment that are inspired by my late father’s work. I am also writing a book about my father and planning to publish my sketches in it.
Ruby is my birthstone and I always wear a ruby stone given to me by my mother. It is an inspiration for my own design – a ring of ruby and black diamonds set in white gold. As an artist, I appreciate the intensity of colour of the ruby. This ring from my mother is one of my favourite pieces.
SHOP RUBY JEWELLERY ONLINE:
The first piece I remember was a golden cross that my father created for me. I was six, and I started wearing jewellery ever since then. I believe stones have a strong energetic force and some people can benefit from wearing their birthstone.
MY EVERYDAY JEWELLERY:
In addition to my engagement and wedding rings and three bracelets which were created by an independent designer; I wear my ruby ring from mum, and two wing bracelets by Garrard.
PERFECT ENGAGEMENT RING:
For every woman, the perfect engagement ring is the one given to her by the man she loves. In my case, my perfect rings are Bucheron engagement and wedding rings given to me by my husband.
ROLEX OR CARTIER:
I have a few beautiful watches but I never wear them. I don’t feel the need to wear one. I do keep time, but I prefer to wear a piece of art instead, and not be constricted by ‘the weight of time’.
It depends on the man, in my opinion. Some men carry it off better than the others. However, men’s jewellery can be very beautiful and I believe that there is a certain lack of interesting pieces for a man to wear, so this area is open to creative exploration.
Because I have my own style and most of my jewellery is tailored for me, or designed by me, I have no strong segregation between the fine jewellery, costume jewellery and simple accessories.
JEWELLERY AS AN INVESTMENT:
I look at jewellery from a creative viewpoint as well as from an investment and heritage perspective. I do understand people who choose to invest into it.
I do love vintage jewellery. To me, it represents history and heritage.
Not really. I am wearing my own designs or one-offs created for me.
I just got back from Andorra which was lovely discovery. I also love visiting Tel Aviv, Sardinia, my native Kazakhstan, and rural England.
DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT:
My phone – it is my diary, sketchpad, camera, communicator, and my life!
COACHELLA OR BURNING MAN:
To be honest, neither. I get claustrophobic in places like that. I also don’t have that much free time for things like that. When I want to relax I spend time in the studio as I truly love it or I visit exhibitions and art fairs like Masterpiece, Venice Biennale or other art events which can inspire me.
MY WEAPON OF CHOICE:
I love my cognac.
GEMOLOGUE by Liza Urla features exquisite global discoveries, trendy urban street style, exclusive interviews and rare jewellery reviews – a celebration of fine jewellery, fashion jewellery and vintage jewellery.
*Photographed by Flit Photography. Styling and Art Direction by Liza Urla
All photos belong to GEM Kreatives for GEMOLOGUE. Material on this website may not be copied, broadcasted or adapted without written consent.