- Jewellery making is a work of a jeweller's time in his or her life, encasing their soul, heart beat and passion in every creation. A jeweller translates a drawing on paper with lines that dance with each other with different material, into a tangible work of depth and width. The craft is a harmony of art, science and practicality where a jeweller plays the role of conductor to have all elements to play an amazing symphony -
B: Borneo Art Collective
B: Describe your making approach. Tell us the story of your investigation.
L&R: In Left&Right, our making approach is organic and sculptural where we tell a story through the structure, texture and visual appearance. The piece is designed to translate stories that we want to articulate or a personal story of our client and every intricate detail is there for a reason while we use our background in Engineering to bring conventional jewellery making technique to another level.
Our background in Mechanical Engineering open up doors for us to explore the material, process and to craft the piece from ideation to completion, highlighting the aesthetic, structure and craftsmanship of our piece.
B: Why and how did you start this making pursuit?
L&R: Since young, I have always wanted to create and I have always been drawing objects of adornment and couture since I was 8 years old and i have kept this with me till today. Upon completing high school, I gave up a scholarship to study fashion design and pursue engineering instead to fulfill my father’s expectation. There were 3 years that I felt lost and disappointed as I did not dare to pick up my sketching board and express myself in art, afraid that by doing so I may grow the desire that is already so strong in me to pursue my passion.
During my year 3, the martial art club that I have joined (AIKIDO club) was requested to join a bazaar. The club has limited fund and cooking is not our forte. My boyfriend, Fabian, who is also the president of the club suggested that I can use the box of beads that I have kept since Primary 1 and have left it at a corner for a good 14 years. We all started stringing simple bracelet, gluing buttons on earrings backing and sewing felt roses. The sales went well and upon seeing that I have an outlet of expressing creativity, Fabian encouraged me to continue.
I was fully supporting my education by myself back then and had 3 part times jobs on top of my study in order to be able to pay for my fees and daily expenses. At one point, after 2 years of having 3 jobs, I collapsed due to exhaustion. That is when Fabian came into play into the venture of jewellery making to provide me with more support while focusing on the passion that gave me flexibility of time at that point.
B: Who/what influenced you to begin this making approach
L&R: My late grandfather is the influence of the story telling while my late grandmother is the one who made me see my calling. Growing up with my late grandfather, my childhood and teen years are filled with his stories of the Brooke era, the war and the people. Through his words, I have traveled to a space and time, even though I did not physically exist then but I can almost picture the scene. Hence story telling is a gift that I personally think allows messages, values and love to travel beyond time and continue to be told by many generations to come. Hence in the beginning , even before starting Left&Right, I post my creations on my personal facebook accounts with a short story, mostly about self-growth and motivations. From time to time, there are friends who sent me personal messages that even though they don’t wear jewellery, they are always excited when I post my creations with the short story and that it provides them with a lot of strength.
As for my late grandmother, she made me realise how things can come and go in such unexpected manner and the moment now is truly what we can do our very best to make this present moment as a gift to ourselves and to others. When I was 17, I used stayed up late at night watching movies. My grandmother used to wait up for me just to tell me not to take bath too late else I will catch a cold. I was young and rude, I waved her away and told her off: “ I am old enough to know what I am doing, I do not need you to care about me and don’t be so long winded.” I went to bed with a hint of regret that I am being rude but I talked myself to sleep :”It’s okay, I can apologise tomorrow. She will be okay with it, she always does.” The next day, I was woken up by a loud noise, by instinct I ran down from my bedroom to the door, I saw her sitting in my cousin’s arm in the middle of the road. She was hit by a car. I ran over to hold her hand and kept calling her:”Amah! Amah! Amah!” She was cold and pale. I have so many things to say to her but I didn’t know what to say. She passed away that day, I didn’t get to say that I am sorry and I love her. During her funeral, I saw a dragonfly, as Chinese belief when one passed away, they will come back as insect to bid good bye to their love ones, I took it as her, I said sorry, I love her and promise that from that day onwards, I will not leave any regret behind.
Since then I have missed moments once in a while and realise that many have those same missed moments leaving love untold, messages undelivered, even when the person can be just one call away or very often just right beside them. Hence the calling of Left&Right has become a messenger to help our audience to translate their love and story into a wearable art so they can have the courage to express to their loved ones and to themselves.
B: Tell us about the selected crafts you are sharing with our audience? What is the big message you are trying to deliver through this three course?
L&R: First of is story telling. Story telling to us is a way to entail emotions and values that will take your breath away. Besides sharing the message of the story teller, it opens another horizon for imagination. When the listeners are courageous to imagine, amazing heights can be achieved.
As for jewellery in wearable art form. It is a work that is more timeless than fashion but more approachable than fine art. We want to make pieces that people can relate to and hence finding their true self as they admire and wear the piece. We want the wearer to have the courage, like how a super hero has unstoppable will as they put on their cape and mask, the wearer can truly be who they are for where they are from and what they want to become, to have the strength to go through challenges and express their love along the way.
The craft of jewellery making is as fascinating as the creation itself. Jewellery making is a work of a jeweler's time in his or her life, encasing their soul, heart beat and passion in every creation. A jeweler translates a drawing on paper with lines that dance with each other with different material, into a tangible work of depth and width. The craft is a harmony of art, science and practicality where a jeweler plays the role of conductor to have all elements to play an amazing symphony.
B: Where do you see your making approach evolving in the near future? What are you trying to achieve at this point?
L&R: As we are refining our style and making approach, we foresee Left&Right to proudly express the story of Borneo and the people of Borneo in fine jewellery form. We will be able to share the crafts with talented and passionate individuals to provide a platform in pursuit of perfection. As our venture works closely with a lot of local small business entity at this stage, we also foresee a mutual growth in ecosystem as well. We are currently using ethically sourced silver and fair management in our venture as well and hope to inspire more people to operate their craft and to purchase consciously. Even though we are small now but by repetitively throwing small pebble into a big pond, we can make a difference and hence making this industry to be an industry to be proud of.
At this point, we are focusing on providing an even more wholesome experience for our audience, from our branding to our space, the ideology and vision and from our design to our finishing.
B: How do you see Borneo maker movement at the moment?
L&R: Borneo maker movement is truly gaining a lot of momentum. As I am personally born and raised in Kuching, had my tertiary education in Kuching and eventually choose to stay in Kuching to kick start our creative venture, I have seen the growth of the maker movement from ground level. The dynamic now is welcoming and there are events and channels to allow new talent to showcase their work. There are amazing talents that decided to stay back in our homeland or come back to our homeland to make a difference as well. This make that journey less lonely and in fact utterly motivating.
B: Tell us about the maker resource that is available in your area? What kind of facility you used for your projects?
L&R: There is not much of the resource that I personally know of and have access to. Our place has always been a rental commercial unit where we will use it as our studio and walk in gallery. Equipment, tools and skills in terms of smithing and jewellery making is not a readily available skill in Sarawak. However, along the way, we are grateful for some individuals and entity whom provide us with the platform to showcase and to refine our presentation. Among them are Bloom Bazaar (which we joined at the very early university days), The Spring mall that invite us for publicity event and Ranee Gift Gallery who is the first entity that provide us with the opportunity to shine. Our current landlord at Kai Joo Lane is one of the most honourable party as not only that they provide us a platform to get back up during our hardest time, provide us an amazing place for a peace of mind as we set our feet to the ground but also showing their constant support of a creative business to grow.
B: How could people access your crafts at the moment? Is there any public participation/ volunteer you allow in your project/ group?
L&R: As of now, audience will be able to understand more about our crafts at www.lnr.my and social media page of FB www.facebook.com/leftNright.juxtapose, instagram @leftnrighthandmade. Our pieces are available online, at our studio gallery currently located at 1st Floor, 25, Kai Joo Lane, and at Ranee Gift Gallery at Ranee Boutique hotel at Main Bazaar.
B: Please recommend stories/ projects/ individuals/ group that we should reach out to in order to expand the Borneo Art Collective network.
L&R: Narong Daun – Amazing batik painting artist who currently works of her resident at Annah Rais
Rosemarie Wong – Owner of Ranee Boutique hotel, an amazing motivating force of fine local craft with contemporary touch
Ceres Lau- Talented paper artist who brought life to paper products.
B: What would be your message to aspiring fellow Borneo Makers/ Artist?
L&R: Choosing the less traveled path to be part of a movement can be full with uncertainties, challenges and doubts sometimes but it takes iterations to create a sustainable point of equilibrium. To tell the story of Borneo in a global platform will need even more effort but it is when we are proud of who we are, where we come from and where our roots belong that will make that shift. Dum Spiro Spero.