My latest column for the New Zealand based jewellery newsletter 'Overview'. If you are not already on their mailing list, please drop them an e-mail and ask to be added (email@example.com).
Brandlandia does Beijing
Right now I am sitting on a roof top garden under an almost perfect blue sky (give or take some hazardous pollution) sipping on a local brew in a city with a population roughly that of Australia. I’ve been in Beijing for a week and I’ve walked along the Great Wall, spun on the dance floor of an underground Russian nightclub, devoured some wonderful food, and changed a few diapers. I’ve come to this amazing city to meet my super fresh five-week-old niece, Mia.
Coming from my new home, in the quite suburbs of Canberra, I expected the chaos, what I did not expect is the calm this city seems to exude. Sure there are the noises of bells, horns and jackhammers, but they quickly meld into the background. The cars, bikes, buses and people seem to dance, never stopping, just flowing and weaving around one another in an endless routine.
The weather is turning and Autumn is announcing its arrival, the clothes that I have brought with me seem no longer appropriate, it feels strange to be buying warmer clothes, as I know when I arrive home the weather will be moving in the opposite direction. However the days are pleasant, and the shopping is thrilling!
When I travel I only wear one piece of jewellery: a pendant of Mary on a long blacked silver chain. I have no religious tendencies and I do not take the iconography of ‘Mary’ on this pendant to for its literal sense. This piece made by contemporary jeweller and good mate Lisa Furno, is from a series she made a few years ago called ‘Madonna’. It is one of a cast of a cast of a cast of the gold pendant of Mary that her grandmother wore. By casting the cast Furno, not only moves literally away from the sharpness and detail of the original pendant, but also blurs its initial meaning, allowing new ideas, emotions and memories to be instilled in it by its new wearer. Lisa is one sassy, fearless, fun, relentless, surprising, cheeky, challenging, joyous and brave little lady. When I travel, I wear this pendant as a talisman and use it as a ‘WWLD (what would Lisa do)’ in situations that often arise in unknown countries. As I move though my twenties I notice myself becoming quite suppositious, which of course I find rather ridiculous, but irrationality runs in my blood. My ‘Mary’ or rather my ‘Lisa’ is the voice inside egging me on, ‘as if you’re NOT going to toboggan down the Great Wall of China’ but also cautioning me not to ride my bike home though the Beijing traffic after too many turns on the dance floor.
Lisa Furno, Madonna, pendant, 925 silver, 2009
Photo: Emma Furno