Last year around this time the start was made for the KAIRO jewellery collection that by now has grown to be one of my favorites. Very soon I will be presenting KAIRO at PULSE London at the Olympia, from 14 to 16th of may! Get in touch with me if you would like free tickets to PULSE.
How did the project start? My friend was visiting his home country, Gambia, when I asked him to bring back the cuttings of textiles left over at the floor of local tailorshops. And so he did. He brought back leftovers from several Gambian towns, Jambur, Brusubi and Serakunda.
At first when I had the pieces of cloth I was not sure how to transform them into jewels- but I was sure an idea would someday pop up in my head.
Incorporating textile in metal jewellery is a challenge both technically as well as estetically. So I put them in a box and sometimes took them out just to look at them...they are so inspiring!
Slowly I started to think of a way to present the prints as mini paintings set in brass using very simple metalworking techniques.
Why did I have an interest in the textiles in the first place? Because I am also schooled as an anthropologist and as such have specialized in ethnic dress and identity. The expression of 'self' and 'community' through clothing, fabrics and adornment, has always fascinated me. For me these expressions are a clear gateway from the inner body to the outside world, the intimate made public.
Making a unity between "there" and "here", using the scrap from Africa in a reinvented jewel, appeals to me. As a jewellery maker I am always looking for ways to give value to the wothless, transforming and recycling. This KAIRO collection allowed me to 'marry' my two passions, anthropology and jewellery making!
The name KAIRO means 'peace' in Mandinka, one of the languages spoken in Gambia. I decided to name the collection after this local proverb:
"Kairo sill man jan faa"- Mandinka proverb, "The road to peace is never (too) long".
The project evolved over the months since I started it, KAIRO can now be called a UNIQUE and ethical example of crosscultural jewellery design.
Ethical? Because of the materials used it can be considered upcycling!
And also, wearing a KAIRO is not only good for you, but also for others....for every jewel sold, a donation is made to support a human rights cause in The Gambia. So the project is beneficial to the planet ánd us humans too!