Be still my bleeding heart: Hayley Smith of Serpent & the Swan

Hayley Smith.

Hayley Smith, co-founder and designer at Serpent & the Swan, creates delicate pieces of jewellery to be worn on fingers, ears and necks, with each containing a small part of her own heart and designed to last longer than the emotion it conveys. Here, RUSSH talks to the Sydney-based artist about her inspirations, symbolism and working with the ones she loves.

Serpent & the Swan earring.

Your label has always been rich with symbolism, why the new influx of bleeding hearts?

I have always been drawn to wounded or bleeding hearts.  I've recently started to focus more on my jewellery, which is a good medium for the symbol.

What do they mean to you as a symbol?

A broken heart can symbolise many things - lost love, grief, disappointment. The symbol is certainly a sorrowful one, yet it is also very human.

I am obsessed with the pulsing sound of the heart - so much so that for one of our fashion weeks I had a friend record a heartbeat and use the audio to create a piece of music for the soundtrack for the show.

Serpent & the Swan necklace and rings.

Do you think each of your wearer can reinterpret your chosen imagery?

Of course! It’s always up to the wearer to interpret and connect with the imagery I choose.  In fact, I expect that it is the wearer's interpretation of the imagery - the way it makes them feel -  that draws them to it in the first instance.

When was the last time you had your heart broken?

Recently our little dog, Frida, was diagnosed with a rare, incurable disease.  She is only four.

What piece of art breaks your heart every time?

Oh good question.  There are lots. The Pre-Raphaelite John Everett Millais's Ophelia, Goya's The Dog, and the works of Anish Kapoor - his voids and blood mirror works really get to me.

Music too. Mount Eerie's 2017 album entitled A Crow Looked at Me is probably the most heartbreaking thing I've ever heard.

What is it like collaborating with your sister and your husband?

Interesting. With both of them I don’t really even have to express my intentions as they can both read my mind. Which is a slightly scary place to be in.

Hayley Smith.