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AYESHA SUREYA

The Arrival of Crucible

The work of Ayesha Sureya Patel is a reflection on the experience of her internal and external surrounding responding to her diasporic identity. Evoking the mythology and cultural intricacies of being Brown and British, Sureya incorporates both familiar elements of the household and historical references as she creates both wearable and intangible work, revelling in the experience of jewellery both on and off the body. She shares her experience collaborating with the Crucible platform, and details how her thoughts on jewellery have evolved over the years, from her home culture to jewellery school, to finally a nuanced perspective on what it means for her.

CO: Your work seems to occupy a few different spaces.

There Is very conceptual work that deals with jewellery in a totally intangible way- the Gold Stain necklace, which is actually a t-shirt, and the Stone Baked rolling pin that leaves the imprint of a jewel on the dough while you’re working it.

With the more wearable pieces, you also play with layering pop culture references onto them, in a way, using jewellery as a platform for humorous or political conversation.

Where do you see your aspirations in these two avenues or ways of working? 

AS: I worked conceptually a lot during my time at university as our course and its tutors would always steer us more in that direction, exposing us to references from some of the grand-daddys of Contemporary Jewellery Design! So naturally I was finding ways to communicate the ‘concept’ of jewellery as an ideology and define its meaning away from a mere ‘accessory’. Also, we weren’t taught typical jewellery making skills so making functional, commercial pieces seemed a little out of reach at the time. Since then I explored more of what jewellery I actually wanted to be wearing. It was an extension of my exploration of myself and working through my diaspora dysphoria but in a way that wanted to deify the wearer – much like South Asian jewellery already does, but in my way, that also informs whoever engages with it. So, to me – right now anyway – I will carry on to work in both ways and not limit myself to one or the other. I have a lot of more conceptual and non wearable pieces of work coming soon (hopefully).
Image courtesy of the artist

CO: With the more conceptual work of Stone Baked, you describe the opportunity of experiencing “jewellery away from the body”- can you speak a bit more about that and what about that is significant for you?

AS: As I mentioned, jewellery for me is more than what we adorn our bodies in. Since I found my voice as an artist I’ve always been more focused on expressing jewellery as a language as opposed to a ‘craft’. And for me that’s just having fun in exploring all the ways I can express my jewellery designs outside of conventional 3D placements on the body. Research is easily the most enjoyable part of being an Artist so that has just as much influence on my work as the ‘designing’ does.

CO: On your website you discuss the place of jewellery in Indian culture, and how elements of the traditional attitudes toward jewellery don’t necessarily resonate with you. How has the format of jewellery allowed you to find other ways to relate?

 

Is it especially suited to express the specifics of your own experiences of cultural identity; to provide a medium for the kind of messages you want to send or conversations you want to have?

Image courtesy of the artist
Image courtesy of the artist

AS: I wouldn’t say that jewellery has allowed me to relate more to Indian culture. It was always something I had access to if I wanted to. Jewellery studies have allowed me to identify certain nuances and express those in the form of pieces of art where the work takes the form of those similarities and disconnections. For example my graduate collection – Gold Stained – was an exploration of something I found similar significance in – the food and dress in my home which was a celebration of that. Saying that my work so far has occupied a tiny part of a collective of brown creatives where there is much more to comment on than these ‘positive stereotypes’ we find comfort in. Topics of colonialism, casteism and colourism are some of the few political topics I enjoy learning about to find connections between my own experiences and the collective grief. Saying that my work is about much more than being brown and shouldn’t be the reason I occupy space.

CO: What has your experience been like so far, working together with Crucible?

Is there work you are most looking forward to doing together with them in the future, or something else you are working on at the moment?

AS: Crucible has been nothing but a blessing to work with – it has further connected me to Kalkidan – whose work I already admired – and then to Tida and Roxanne – who are pioneering through their fields and making some real changes I wish I was able to access during my time studying!
It’s still unfortunate in a way for marginalised makers to still have to carve out their own spaces to have their work showcased. However the support linked with community run spaces are unmatched! Aside from Crucible I am excited to work on more workshops with young people in ways to use making as a vehicle for community engagement and exchanges.

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