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ARCHIVE: Tatty Devine X Silvia Ziranek

July 13, 2023 - Alice Barnes
ARCHIVE: Tatty Devine X Silvia Ziranek

Without further ado, allow us to introduce you to the second release in our retrospective ARCHIVE collection: an ode to over two decades of original design flush with friends, fellow artists, and previous collaborators’ favourite Tatty Devine jewellery.

Listen to our Creative Director and Co-Founder Harriet Vine MBE here talk about our next ARCHIVE collaboration.

Enter visual artist Silvia Ziranek, who we originally collaborated with back in 2011 on a bespoke pair of sparkling Toilet Flush Earrings, making their theatrical debut at the Wellcome Collection’s Dirt exhibition. Fast forward 12 years and a star turn in our ‘Misshapes: The Making of Tatty Devine’ exhibition, book, and the wishlists of jewellery lovers worldwide, we’re thrilled to present this very special conceptual capsule collection. Accessorise with a trio of avant-garde toilet bowls: the NOT UNDIRTY Earrings and a new matching piece, the NOT UNDIRTY Pendant, laser cut in reflective mirror silver acrylic and made complete with a ‘flush’ of shimmering mirror, iridescent and opalescent water droplets. Each highly limited piece is part of a numbered edition of 20 and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. 

NOT UNDIRTY Earrings, £175

NOT UNDIRTY Pendant, £95

From loo rolls to gender roles, this juxtaposes high glamour with the tropes of domesticity and questions conventional roles within the home, as explored in Silvia’s performance ‘Not Undirty’. Join us as we sit down with Silvia to talk performance, punctuation, and the colour pink…

You studied Russian and Arabic at Leeds in the 70’s then moved into fine art. What spurred this shift?

Honestly, caused by initial shortsightedness. My father was Polish (my mother Austrian (I learnt German - and hockey - at school). I was and remain Good At Languages. I do like to communicate, to talk to people in their country in their language as much as poss. I wanted to learn Polish; bearded careers mistress said that Poland “was a small and insignificant country” and I’d be much better off studying the neighbouring language. Wrong wrong wrong, but I went along with the advice. Started the 4-year Russian course on the absolute understanding that it was pure language - I do love a gerund - but lo! Fourth term in, my Russian being pretty darn good, we began on the greats: Turgenev,  Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Pushkin, yeh all blokes, all highly esteemed, but not specifically language studies and linguistics. No one to sign me up at the Icelandic desk so I thought why not… then came the Midnight Runner. Hadn’t gone to art school in the first place as Mutti (we never spoke Deutsch zu Hause) had said that art students are ten a penny - this was pre-decimalisation too. Took my wifty wafty weavings and long blonde hair and totally atrocious sketchy thingys to a couple of art schools, offered an immediate place at Croydon for Foundation and Goldsmiths for Fine Art. Both yeh all blokes staff.

Language is front and central to your performances, was it your love of language that inspired/urged you to make art?

Possibly. Please see above. In many ways I am an extremely specific person which explains a lot about my dedication to absolute specific grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, enunciation: basically I’m a communication pedant with an extensive Thesauratic aptitude for description - let’s say I have standards.

I also love to dress, I love to dress up. Maman was a highly skilled seamstress, I learnt to read with my chin on the treadle machine trestle table, probably I learnt a lot from her by osmosis.  Maybe mention here that Dad was a photographer, had been in the Polish cavalry fighting the Germans in the war, retrained in England as a photographer, had his studio on Sloane Street. Hadn’t a clue how to parent.

What was your experience at Goldsmiths like? Any good stories?

As for staff: Victor Willing gave me a guide book on axonometric skull drawing - imagine the excitement but imagine if I’d only thought about who he was: the husband of PAULA REGO!!! Story of my life, I miss so much, I miss too much. Tim Head got me a backstage pass to Roxy Music in Finsbury Park. Fantastic. He’d gone to art school with a few of them. Richard Wentworth; Nick de Ville; Michael Craig-Martin; Glen Baxter gave me a bunch of radishes; some Chris tutor who paid for the lunchtime drinking competition lagers - obviously I won - oh and Dave Gluck in the photographic department: a joy and so very helpful, as was Sam, in screen printing. And Peter Logan who wanted to give me a first though The Others wanted to fail me - and I was busy doing the art stuff all the flipping time.

There is a rich heritage of female performance artists, is there anyone in particular that inspired you? Or perhaps a particular poet?

Fanny Craddock. Katy Boyle. Damien Runyon. Dashiel Hammett. Robert Louis Stevenson, if I’m honest. The author of “Mots d’Heures Gousses: Rames". The Brothers Grimm. Hans Christian Andersen. Lewis Carol. Aesop. Margot Fonteyn. Toshiro Mifune. Mae West.

With titles like ANYONE CAN APRON, RUBBERGLOVERAMA, DRAMA, THAT CHARMING VASE and WHY CAN'T A WOMAN BE MORE LIKE A MAN, there is a strong undercurrent and commentary on femininity and domesticity. What are your feelings on these subjects?

To be a Woman is to be Political. No undercurrent.  Exhausting.

Talk to us about the colour pink.

Pink is the ONLY colour. It brings me enormous joy. It is the funniest, the strongest, the sweetest, the playfullest, the adaptablest, the dreamiest ,the co-ordinatablest, the warmest. I do not appreciate the pale pale tones of nearly washed-outness. Salmon is not!!! Pink.

We made the original LOO ROLES Earrings for NOT UNDIRTY which was originally commissioned by The Wellcome Collection in 2011 as part of their Dirt Programme. When you approached Tatty Devine what ‘role’ did you imagine we’d bring to the performance?

Co-ordination, completion, communication, essence of concept, extension of concept, embellishment, humour, focus, pzazz.


The LOO ROLES Earrings and Pendant are a physical manifestation of a fleeting performance which is exciting for us, how does it make you feel?

Completed. Adorned. Lively. Interpretive. Witty.


We were ‘a sponsor’, tell us why sponsorship in kind is so important in your work.

From many time to times sponsorship has played a recognisable part in my work, developing what materials I use - and which I don’t. I’ve had such a range of sponsors over the decades, from a mammoth BMW motorbike, in the days when I was an ardent biker, to glorious reams of the most delicious fabrics for so many perfs, to a next to useless whoops I should say “modest” spray of water (to cool down my fevered brow after such audacity?!). I was commissioned to create a performance some many years ago at The Serpentine Gallery, London, in which I investigated as many facets of sponsorship as possible: LOGO LINGO. NB the computer word check just tried to understand/interpret: sponsorship became “spin worship.”  Exactly. The most constant sponsor has been A Betterbadge, whose generosity was completely revealed in IT IS IS IT, my Grand Work at Canary Wharf.

Silvia extends thanks to previous and longstanding sponsors:
Omnicolour, Flora Mclean, John Trowbridge, Jade Monnaux at Vidal Sassoon, and Better Badges.

What themes does NOT UNDIRTY explore? (other than dirt of course!) 

Language. Attitudes to hygiene. Faking it. Domesticity. Relationships. Humour. Cover-up. Sponsorship (two known product producers politely abstained from involvement as they were not happy with The Wellcome’s endeavours). Compromise? Re-use and recycling and restraint in the use of resources. Co-working. Woman as Autonomous Being. Millinery.

How do you store/keep your archive?

Absurdly and with difficulty. I want, I need Titus’ castle, in London, now, please.

Both designs are part of a numbered limited edition, delicately hand-crafted by our small, expert team of makers. Don’t miss out, on the second stop on our ARCHIVE journey, launching online and in-store very soon.


Listen to our Creative Director and Co-Founder Harriet Vine MBE here and shop the second stop on our ARCHIVE journey, online and in-store now. Both designs are part of a numbered limited edition, delicately hand-crafted by our small, expert team of makers. Don’t miss out, once they’re gone, they’re gone!

Alice Barnes