Bricolage: Connecting through objects with my great ancestors

Hand Crafted Jewelery Amidst a Sea of Seeds

I became fascinated by my great grandmother once she was no longer there and the way I connected to her was through story. One piece of information that I hung on to was how she loved earrings. Whenever she would see someone wearing an earring it made her so elated and happy. 

Whenever I would adorn myself with jewelery I would think of her. Would she like this piece of jewelry? Why, what would she say? How would it make her feel? I asked myself such things as a way of connecting to her.

These curiosities led to other questions. Where did she get her jewelry from when she was a young woman? In fact, where did my female ancestors get their jewelry from? How did this idea of jewelry even emerge?

Nature! Nature is the mother of jewelry. The more I researched the more I found how jewelery was made by hand by observing beauty in nature: in seeds, fruits and pebbles. In that the act of making jewelry came from the practice of looking, being curious, observing what in nature is beautiful.

In a world today that is so removed from making, where we buy beauty from mass produced stores, our relationship with beauty has become ever more plastic and external. We don’t think of the seeds we eat as beautiful; we don’t notice the different shades of color in it. We are increasingly numb to natural beauty. 

Further, in a time where diamonds are the most ‘precious’ stones, I began to wonder how we made that decision. For the emergence of seeds on earth 360 million years ago is close to miraculous, and seeds are fertile too! They can make life. That a piece of jewelry could be planted and make a tree fascinated me. What is more precious than life?

So, in an effort to connect with my ancestors, I began to observe the seeds in the foods I ate. Avocado seeds, bitter black Indian fruit seeds, olive seeds. And I began to observe things I found in my natural environments. Pebbles on the beach, sand grains, pieces of palm. And with those I made a collection of jewels.  

This collection was made to explore the process of making and what the process would illuminate. For me, it forever changed my relationship with beauty and my female ancestors. Beauty used to be something outside of me that I would buy and put on. Making it made me realise that it is something I co-create with nature. Adorning myself is a way of showcasing the magic of nature.

The exhibition projects historical images of women and their jewelry, landscapes, women’s eyes and hands on loop on the walls. The images in the background make one think about the relationship between the maker and her landscape. Placed in woven baskets are all kinds of seeds. Each bowl has a story about how long it took for this seed to come to us. Amongst those pieces I show case the pieces of jewelry that I made.