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Inspired by T&T
Rachel Rochford is one of Trinidad and Tobago’s up-and-coming jewelry designers. She has been designing and creating such personal adornments as necklaces and earrings for the past three years. “I first started making jewelry for myself because I wanted unique big earrings that would be striking and also visible against all the curls of my natural hair,” Rochford said. She works with an array of materials including paper, twine, rope, ribbon, wood, brass, copper, silver-plated and gold-plated metals.
She taps into the unique character of these materials so that their different qualities inform the final look and spirit of her products. Rochford draws inspiration from the world around her—in particular, she finds visual stimulation from Trinidad and Tobago. “Anything can inspire me, from a painted line in a car park to the shape of a wilted flower on the side of the pavement,” she said. The chain link fences that are part of our architectural environment influenced her first necklace collection, entitled the Chain Link Series 2012. Her latest collection, which is inspired by the human body, is called Akimbo. The title piece of this collection is a pair of earrings fashioned to echo a standing figure with arms akimbo, in other words, with hands on the hips and elbows turned outward.
For this new series of jewelry, Rochford makes a connection between her approach to designing and her practice as a painter. The human figure has been a recurring feature in the work of this designer/artist who has been painting professionally for the past 12 years. She applies what she has learned about the human body—more specifically, what she has learned about T&T body language—to her jewelry creations. “I have been studying the gestures and attitudes of the Trinbagonian for several years in my paintings and drawings. The fluidity of the lines from my artwork have been abstracted and translated into wire earrings,” said Rochford.
It is this sharp eye or capacity for observing Trinidad and Tobago closely—a way of seeing honed in her art making—that she brings to her jewelry design process.
Rachel Rochford holds a first-class honours bachelor’s degree in fine art from the University of Reading in the UK. She lectures part-time in ceramics at the Department of Creative and Festival Arts, the University of the West Indies, St Augustine.
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