This project was pretty challenging. We were asked to design an extravagant and unusual piece of catwalk jewellery. The inspiration for the piece, being a particular culture or a specific period in history. We were advised to make use of scale, colour and form.
In the end, after spending a lot time researching different cultures and designers, Sarawak became my theme. Sarawak is a Malaysian region in north-west Borneo, and means a great deal to me because when I was young, my family took me trekking around there and we even lived with the tribe for a couple of weeks. What an experience. I focussed mainly on colours they use, symbols and tradition.
I experimented with weaving, which is a huge tradition in Sarawak, the woven art possess symbols and designs which represent certain animals like deer, birds, frogs, etc. These symbols are meant to protect the village by warding off bad spirits. You can see some etched tribal designs on the circular pendant hanging from my piece. In addition, I practiced weaving in wire and yarn and ended up weaving 2 long tubes of black wire which took me AGES. I could have machine knitted the wire but my intention was to keep up the tradition of Sarawak and keep weaving by hand. There are two colours running consistently through my piece (black and red), this is because red and black are used frequently in Sarawak art and textiles: red representing sacrifice, courage and determination; black symbolises rich natural resources and wealth of Sarawak such as timber and petroleum. The black weaved tubes are attached to both ears creating a feeling of awkwardness and weight. The reason behind this is in Sarawak, they consider lengthened ears beautiful thus wanted my piece to be more of an experience rather than aesthetic. To express the true pain of beauty and tradition in Sarawak. I have had people ask me “would this be kind of sore to wear?”, well yes of course, but this is nothing compared to some of the weights Sarawak women have to dangle from their ears. They can be up to 100 grams in weight each!
(Development: piece was going to be attached the hair to focus on awkwardness but issue with it staying on, thus replaced weight on ears)
Near the end of the project, we were taught how to use the photography studio. Man was confusing at first! Really enjoyed it though.
I really enjoyed this project as it allowed me to experiment with unfamiliar materials and different techniques (weaving, photography, etc). However, it still seems unfinished to me so will work on it during the easter break. I strongly believe jewellery should not only be aesthetically beautiful, but tell a story, have a deeper meaning. How, in some countries, beauty must be accompanied with pain.