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The Florio Collection

Was it lemons, oranges and the 'Agrumi' of Sicily that inspired me? Was it their colours of yellow, orange and green in the sunshine of the daily outdoor markets? Or was it their sweetness in the pastries?

oranges

I really don't know if I can say... But the sunshine of the early mornings in Ortigia - the island off Syracuse - was as golden and warming to the spirit as the sight of them. The narrow streets where drying sheets billowed across the bowed balconies, woke slowly and quietly. Alone with my sketch book I could wander in and  out of the maze of streets, small cafes and local shops. Now and again the wrought iron work of a variously shaped window would catch my eye and I would half close my eyes and imagine the links of a bracelet or necklace.

The Ortigia oval link is an almost perfect translation into gold and silver of a window. I had envisaged it originally (while on my Sicilian journey) being set with stones, but somehow once I saw the gold work on the workshop bench I realised the design needed no further embellishment. I did decide then to curve the ovals for the bracelet so it would wrap around the wrist.

ortigia design

The Florios were one of the great families of Palermo and built the great Villla Igeia with its views out over the city and harbour (now an hotel). The great Sicilian car race started with them and as merchants, they championed the export of Marsala and other goods. So it was when walking around the city of Palermo and admiring the 20th century architecture that I saw a charming lunette above a doorway, depicting a stylised fig tree.  I transposed the design into a design for a pair of earrings and a cuff, and as so often happens when a design seems to 'work', a series of other designs were borne around the initial ideas. The sketch book that started with a page of designs suddenly had pages of possible earrings in all sizes.

Florio_Sketch

florio jewels

 

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