It was a twist of fate and a new life in Australia that launched Radka Passianova into the world of jewellery and object design.“My mother didn’t think that using one’s creativity was a suitable way to earn a living in a communist country”, Passianova says candidly. Born in 1981 in Prague in the Czech Republic, the Prague of Passianova’s childhood is a far cry from the open, modern democracy it is today. Careers in the arts were not commonplace, so it took moving to Australia before her path as an artist opened up.

“I knew there was a creative spark within me, but I was thinking of something more practical, like business”, she says. “I didn’t always know I’d be an artist”, Passianova says. She started with Fundamental Design at Enmore and a dedicated teacher encouraged her to explore her abilities in the workshop, which eventually led to Jewellery and Object Design. “I had a wonderful teacher to thank for my accidental life as an artist”, she says with a laugh.

In fact, there’s nothing accidental about Passianova. She’s an artist with a serious, deliberate and passionate approach to her work. And there’s nothing frivolous about her objects or jewellery either, they’re not merely decorative, form is very much influenced by function and purpose and her creations are intelligent, subtle and enigmatic. Passianova says her artistic DNA is powered by the big issues of our time,climate change, waste management, human rights and preserving                                              the beauty of our environment.

“I’m not an activist, but I am an artist whose work is informed by the natural world”. Currently, Passianova is working on a project whereby she redesigns and repurposes discarded thongs and makes them into wearable art. “I was on the beach in Zanzibar and there were thongs littered all over the beach. I had this instant feeling I should pick them up. At first it was an environmental impulse, then I realised there was an abundant material, in amazing colours, that could be remade into something else. I knew that this would become a long term project”.

Passianova is contrasting the “thong jewellery” project with her more precious silver, and more recently gold, jewellery. “For a long time I was intimidated by using gold”, she admits. “I didn’t want to waste it because it’s so expensive and precious”. Passianova was given some gold, which her mother had painstakingly collected from her ancestor’s teeth, and she realised there was an opportunity to play with it in a way she hadn’t before. “I used crayons and painted the gold with pigment. I made earrings that are whimsical and a complete contrast to the serious way I’d approached working with gold in the past”. As it turned out the earrings opened a doorway to a new, more confident,                                             and adventurous artistic expression.

Passianova is, at 40, in the mid-part of her artistic career. She’s an accomplished and celebrated teacher, an award winning artist and emerging exhibition artist on the national art scene. She believes her current work is the truest expression of her voice as an artist to date: “I want to make work that moves people to make a change. Art and design can make a difference to the world and I want to do it with my creativity and my voice”.