When Nakid first discovered Joanne Burke’s Instagram, a British jewellery designer based in Rome, it was like falling into the pages of an art history book. Her photographs are reminiscent of pre-Raphaelite paintings: flowing white clothing, ancient ruins and body parts adorned with delicate gold jewellery. But if you look carefully, you’ll notice a sexual lure to the pieces: naked couples, phallic penises hanging from necklaces and breasts nestled between fingers form part of the collection.
Surprisingly, Burke has only been making jewellery for the past year (she’s already been featured in Vogue Paris, Vogue Mexico, Vogue Portugal and Another Magazine) but her pieces look like erotic charms belonging to an ancient civilisation. Mythological creatures such as pygmys and faunes help transform the pieces into feeling like we’ve found unearthed gems from a by-one era. Her jewellery – and the romanticised but sexually charged brand she has built around it – is a far cry from where she was a born in the UK, which she describes as a “dilapidated and depressing Victorian seaside resort”. Her thirst for adventure took her away from the UK on a tour around America before settling in Rome, where she is currently based.
Making jewellery was a natural progression for Burke, who, as a multi-disciplinary artist works with costumes, embroidery, videos, photography and sculpture. Adornments have always been a life-long passion of hers and jewellery is a way of linking everything together. Her aim is to turn the everyday banalities of life into charms of value: “It’s really important to me that the jewellery has a symbolic value and some kind of message. I’m not interested in clean, pretty fashion jewellery – to me it’s just boring.”