“The Danish Agency for Culture” invited Makers Move to represent “Danish Crafts and Design” during the “World Design Capital 2014” in Cape Town, South Africa.
This ring I had made for me by a jeweller friend of mine. I had an inspiration to make the ring, which had nothing to do with what the ring eventually came to mean to me. My birthday was coming up, and I’d wanted a ring that was masculine. I thought these signet rings that were passed on to males in families were quite beautiful. I tend to have an obsession with ideas of heritage and belonging, so I wanted this ring that would make me feel like I came from a long line of something; my family doesn’t really have that, everything is so erased and short term. I wanted it in rose gold, but ended up with it made from copper. It was a long search for the stone that would go into it, and we found one at the organic market in Johannesburg. Looking at that stone, I realized this ring was not about my birthday, nor belonging, but about a dear friend and teacher in my life, who had died about four months before the ring was made. The stone is called Pietersite, and it is only mined in a place in Namibia. It’s a blue stone that doesn’t have a particular dramatic or enchanting quality, but for a second when I held it in the light, it looked a bit like there was a storm inside it, and that is somehow how I had been feeling about losing that friend. Life can be overwhelming in so many ways, but I do think that sometimes how I’m feeling has something to do with having lost her. It looks to me like a storm seen from a great distance, like looking down at the planet from outside the atmosphere.
I met that friend at university; she was a drama teacher and an extraordinary playwright, who had a deep intuitive sense of the undercurrent that drives things. She had a way of seeing things with extra-sensory perception, she was uncanny, but also bright and fragile. We shared a love for Japanese aesthetics, and performance art – a love for the exacting cruelty, and the beauty within it, and a striving for artistic expression that has to happen no matter the sacrifice one has to make for it. That’s very much how I lived my life artistically when she was alive. The first time we met was during an improvisation class I took, that happened on the staircase. She was passing by, and she just engaged with me in a delightful way. And so the friendship unfolded, and for many years she was a confidante of mine. Then she was diagnosed with leukaemia. She was admitted to a hospital but refused to stay there. She refused to be subjected to such buffoonery and a waste of medicine. She was home and those visits before the time she passed away were very strange to me. I always thought of her as eternal, not physical, even though I knew her in the physical world. When I realized she might die, I didn’t feel particularly emotional. I thought it would be good to try and cure her, but I thought that if she died our connection would remain eternal, even in her absence, she will still be present and livid.
During one of my visits, she was bleeding from underneath her fingernails. I was not allowed in because I had the flu, but we had a conversation through the kitchen window. I still remember her little bloody fingers, slightly pressed against the glass. After that, I went on a long journey, collected moss called ‘old man’s bird’ that somehow reminded me of her, and wove a heart-shaped wreath from it, placed a little wooden bird in the centre, and went to visit her again. I hung it up in her room, and I could sense that she was scared which was really strange. I never thought of her as somebody that could be scared. We were always so resolved, and so clear in how we embraced both the bright and dark aspects of life, and accepted the full range of human experience. Death is inevitable. Darkness is always on the other side of the coin, but she was scared. I told her about the love I found, my new partner, but I told it that typical way we would speak about things, without sentiments, as if emotions were pitiful, not Japanese enough for us. Then she told me, ‘You know Vincent, the time for that is really over, the love you have and this life, is so fleetingly precious.’ A week later she passed away, and I don’t think I really understood what happened for the longest time. It comes and it goes in waves and manifests in my life in inexplicable ways. It feels uncomfortable, not to be in control; that’s how it left me feeling. I never liked jewellery. I had a few pieces, but I never ended up wearing them. It always felt a bit over the top. But with this ring, and I have 125 steps going down to the garage, I have to run back and fetch it each time I leave without it, because I feel slightly naked without it. I’ve heard my mother say , ‘I feel naked without my rings’, and that’s how I feel – naked without my ring,