I was originally very inspired by a jewellery box I saw at the Mehrangir Fort Museum in Jodhpur. The caption stated, rather enigmatically, that the box would have contained all the items needed to perform solah shringar. This lead me on a journey through Indian cultural practice from the legendary Kapila Vatsyayan to Usha Balakrishnan, via all sorts of wonderful stories of the lives of regal women! Basically, the solah shringar is an adornment ritual, of sixteen stages, and includes both literal objects (rings, bracelets, necklaces), but also layers of sensory experience – scent, sound, tactility – and methods of building those layers, bathing rituals and so on. I felt this was powerfully evocative. I wouldn’t say I had even scratched the surface of where it will take me, but I have my whole career! So far, it’s encapsulated by the delicate sound of metal or rubies against handcarved ebony in rings, earrings and pendants, which have movement built in to the piece. I also looked at creating pendants that can be taken apart to be used on different parts of the body – to basically pull together in one piece some of the many kinds of jewellery a woman might need. Its got a way to go, but I’m always thinking about how to keep developing that thought!
My ‘style’ is really about collaboration and juxtaposition, about craftsmanship and heritage, and colour. I also take quite a curatorial approach to my work; there’s a lot of narrative behind the collections. So I hope people will buy into those stories, behind the design, behind the people who made them, behind the techniques and heritage of the craftsmanship – and add their own stories to the gems as they become part of their lives. I think the crafts techniques might change, but the principals of my practice and the approach to creating the work will remain the same.