Halong Bay is an enchanting place where forested mountains rise directly out of the emerald water. However, there is much more than just rocks hidden in the depths of the sea. It is a renowned place for farming sea pearls. Anna Orska chose Vietnam as her next destination, as she set her sights on getting a job at a pearl farm and capturing the extraordinary beauty of these places in underwater photographs.
"I underestimated the importance of pearl farms to the Vietnamese people," - says the designer, "I thought that getting into such a farm would not be particularly difficult. I hoped to work there and come back with pearls that I would fish out myself. I didn't have directions to a specific place, usually when I travel I get the best information from locals. I often find that people are incredibly helpful."
This time, however, it was much more difficult. The farms cannot be found on the Internet or in a guidebook. The places that are communicated in this way are arranged spaces for tourists. They are not actual farms, but a commercial illusion. "It turns out that farms are places that provide life for entire villages and towns. Hidden among the rocks, the underwater farms are guarded like underwater prisons. The waters are patrolled by armed guards. They also have checkpoints where pearls are guarded at all times in small observation towers on the surface. This is hardly surprising. One piece takes two years to grow, and many are not of satisfactory quality. One perfect pearl is a real treasure, so it is properly guarded to this rank." - Anna recalls.
Fishing for pearls was out of the question, so the original intention of the trip and the Vietnamese collection had to change. Returning to the country without the collection was not an option. "I came here to work, many people, including my whole team, were waiting for the designs. I couldn't imagine coming back and saying it didn't work out. Fortunately, years earlier I had become interested in lacquerware and learned about its origins. At the time it was not an achievable technology for me, but somewhere in the back of my mind I had the idea. This was the perfect opportunity to finally work on the concept," says the artist, who instantly created an alternative plan and, thanks to the friendships made on the trip, reached one of the many craft settlements surrounding Hanoi.
Lacquer painting is a technique with a long and rich tradition, with roots dating back as far as six thousand years. The process itself is painstaking and time-consuming. The creation of a lacquered object begins with a piece of wood, which forms the base. Next, a hand-cut mother-of-pearl ornament is applied, and then the longest and most intricate stage of the work begins - the application of lacquer. Each side must be lacquered separately and allowed to dry, then polished. This procedure is repeated many times, so that it can take up to six weeks to complete one piece. This is craftsmanship at its finest. It requires patience, humility and great precision.
The jewelry designed by Anna Orska is decorated with pearl ornaments in the shape of bamboo shoots and leaves and other floral motifs. The ornaments are covered with black and red lacquer and then set in silver. Part of the jewelry collection was created using pearls from Halong Bay, which became the main accent of asymmetrical earrings, irregular pearl necklaces, or large bracelets.
"For me, this jewelry collection is symbolic. White and black are the colors of my brand - colors I've always had a fondness for. Red is the color of happiness in Asia - it's the feeling I get when I travel. I will always associate pearls with the striking beauty of the Vietnamese coast, and ornaments with the charm of the local nature. Each piece of jewelry reminds me of all those kind people and exciting experiences that I have enriched myself with while creating this collection. I hope that the necklaces, bracelets and earrings will inspire their new owners and pass on to them a piece of the happiness I experienced in Vietnam,” - concludes the designer.