RumourRat - US interviewed by Carwyn Mcintyre


Sat in the Carlton Gardens in front of the Royal Exhibition Building on the Rathdowne Street side. The sun is setting, and it is the 10th of November. Anne-Mieke Ytsma, her partner (and some-time collaborator) Luke Sands, and myself are talking in the company of her three-year-old Chihuahua Vries (@freezer_bags) A lady nearby, is sitting on her park rug made out of Woolies reusable plastic shoppers that she has taped together, and is listening to our conversation. 

Carwyn McIntyre: “So, tell me about the rats.”


Anne-Mieke Ytsma: “Well, Charlotte [U.S. website designer and friend of the brand] just found this brooch, at like, in Dunedin/Ōtepoti.”


CM: “You’ve done rats before though right, star written backwards?”


AY: “That object came up and that is the relationship to it. It’s not so much a thought behind it. It’s more like something that resonated [but] that I wasn’t searching for.”


Luke Sands: “A bit like [how] like attracts like.”


AY: “A nice relationship to it. I found that brooch, like, a year or two after Charlotte gave it to me. She gave me this bag of kind of junk – well not junk, treasure – when she went back to Dunedin/Ōtepoti she got me this haul from the op shops. I thought, "What is this?”


AY “This is cool.”


AY “This relates somehow, I didn’t know what to do with it, maybe put it on a necklace. It was nice to replicate it in a way. I don’t know if it was already a replicated brooch, or if it was a handmade brooch. I haven’t seen anything like that but maybe I have? It didn’t have any markings on it, or anything.”


AY “A lot of the things that I make are replications of things that are already made. More than that it’s something that I am attracted to. There’s already so much out there, so much jewellery that’s been designed; it’s like looking at that and then putting it into a different perspective or into a now kind of thing. That brooch would’ve been made to put on a tie or, like, a woman’s blouse – I don’t know who would’ve worn that.” 


AY “…but making it into some funny fugly earrings and a bit punk or something, like pierced. Everything’s circulated. There’s something nice about resurfacing it and giving it a new life.”


CM: “The Earring Earring concept has come back.”


AY: “It has resurfaced; it has come back; it hasn’t gone away. I think it’s like… “ [trails off]


LS: “It’s evolved, hasn’t it? You’ve got umm… the ear cuff?”


AY: “Oh yeah, the ear cuff… I had a lot of people ask if the original one could be made into an ear cuff ‘cos there were quite a few people who didn’t have their ears pierced who wanted to wear them. Then I was thinking that there’s something quite nice about it that anyone can kind of wear.” 


CM: “With the Earring Earring that you did initially they had piercings on them, now they are a bit more spiky? I am hesitant to use the word punk.”


AY: “Yeah a bit more like I am not scared to wear something that is a bit more like fuck you. I guess that it’s a particular type of person who wears a spike. But if you mix it with something a bit more dainty, pretty or sparkly it can kind of counteract it and make it more accessible.”


LS: “Jewellery as weapons that’s like, y’know you see bikies wearing tons of rings. 


AY: “Knuckle Dusters!”


LS: “In the middle ages, you know, the gauntlet was decorative as well.”


AY: “Earrings are pure adornment; they are not used for anything else apart from framing your face. You could be wearing nothing, but then if you have earrings on then it’s pure and part of what you look like and your identity. They are funny like that.” 


LS: “The white ones, they are the most elegant that we’ve seen.” 


CM: “[The] stones, the blue is new, you don’t do much blue.”


AY: “Yeah, I don’t do much blue. I think I was getting sick of all the pastel-y colours – which I am drawn to – but I don’t know if everyone does. So, with the cuff it was more coming from something that anyone can wear. It’s pretty and royal but it can also be a bit sporty, a bit [like] a race car. It’s not black either, because I feel like that is a particular type of person.” 


LS: “It’s royal ‘cos it’s a deep rich colour.”


AY: “You could be more of a princess and wear it. It’s perhaps not everyone's colour maybe?” 


CM: “So, you’re still interested in poetry, stars, a little bit of philosophy and [AY: “celestial”].. yeah?” 


 AY: “Yeah, I think so, it’s more like without saying it.”


CM: “Arrows and gems, 


LS: “The circular shapes.”


AY: “…halo, orbits.”


AY: “…[when] I went back to New Zealand/Aotearoa and then Tyson [friend, artist, and curator; Te Rarawa, Ngāti Maniapoto] and I did that trip up the Whanganui river - a river that has been granted unique personhood status; and where Ytsma grew up - and we visited all these beautiful religious sites. That has always been at the back of my mind… these weird totems with all these animals on them. These things that hold like the ten commandments or something with lots of interesting imagery in them. Like the rat. There are elements that relate back to that in a way, in my head…”


LS: “The names of the pieces too...” 


AY: “Tyson and I had a loose conversation about this prophet, but it was about the idea of gossip; a gossip prophet [laughs]. We were trying to think about different kinds of people that gossip; who are they? What is that? Symbolism… there’s something that I have not delved into too much.”


“And, so I was kind of thinking about that with the names of the pieces. So, there’s RumouRat, the earring with the white stones is White Noise, and then the cuff. I haven’t quite settled on a name but I thought Conspire Cuff? The spikes, spire-like church religious things like that. Also, they’re all earrings too; there’s something about the ears [CM: “listening!”], talking, gossiping – which is something which we all do to relate to each other. You gossip just by talking, it doesn't necessarily have to be malicious.”


LS: “A catch-up…”


AY: “yeah a tea party; it’s a relationship. I kind of like the idea that you rat on someone.” 


LS: “tattle-tale… dibber dobber!” [laughs]


AY: “I don’t know if the word gospel is related to the word gossip, but that’s kind of interesting. Someone saying the truth is gospel, right? I don’t know?”


LS: “That absolutely might have a relationship. Goss!” 


LS: “That is an interesting point, that [idea] of gossip being the new church.” 


AY: “We don’t really have a church; we don’t necessarily have that now. It may or may not be true. People would go to church…”


CM: “It was a social outlet.” 


AY: “Yeah you listen and take it in and pass it on to the next person… mixed messages you know.”



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