Anna Orska wrote another chapter of her travel story in Morocco. Stunning in color and very diverse, Marrakech tempted her with a wide range of unique art techniques, deeply rooted in Maghreb culture. It took her as many as five trips to delve into the secrets of the crafts. During her travels, the designer admired gebs (decorative plaster wall ornaments) and zellij (hand-cut ceramic mosaics), tried wood carving, and visited the workshops of weavers and fabric dyers. However, she was most impressed by metalwork workshops, where lamps with intricate openwork structures are created. Anna Orska decided to translate this non-jewelry craft into the language of jewelry.
The light of Morocco
Lamps are one of Morocco's most distinctive and culturally recognizable products. They are created in various forms, shapes and sizes. Each one, regardless of size or weight, is made by hand. Maalem, or local masters, pay great attention to detail. The metal lanterns give off diffused, muffled light, casting delightful reflections on the walls. The light shines through intricate patterns of openwork, mimicking the starry sky over a desert landscape. Traditionally designed to illuminate with candlelight, today they use electricity. However, they have additional power. This is because in Morocco they are believed to fill the room with barakah, or a state of spiritual grace.
- Moroccan lamps are magical. Decorated with lace details, they make a mesmerizing impression even before they are lit. Even at the stage of creation, the skill, perseverance and precision of the craftsmen are awe-inspiring. The fullness of the artists' craftsmanship and the uniqueness of the artifacts they create can be most fully appreciated in the dark, when the lamps are turned on and shine their light in the darkness. This fabulous sight is memorable for a long time. - recalls the designer, who captured the charm of the Arabian night in the Morocco collection.
The jewelry, made of silver and nickel silver, was created in the nooks and crannies of the Machnou brothers' workshop in Marrakech. However, before Maalem began the actual metal work, Anna Orska prepared designs from thin paper. She took the decorative motifs from traditional Moroccan lamps, which have been made here since 1996. In accordance with centuries-old Islamic art and tradition, due to the impossibility of depicting human or animal figures, the jewelry designs are dominated by a rich language of illustrations of flowers, leaves or stylized, finely intertwined vines. The main inspiration, however, was the mashrabiya, or openwork window and balcony covers. This distinctive element of architecture in Muslim countries was customarily placed on the upper floors of houses to help cool the hot air. At the same time, it provided a cover for women, who, remaining invisible, could follow the life going on in the street. Today, mashrabiya are used mainly as a decorative element, but they can also be found in mosques, where they separate the prayer section meant for women from the male gaze. ORSKA, adapting the ornaments decorating the mashrabiya to jewelry forms, symbolically moved them from the area of concealment into the area of interest, turning motifs that cover into patterns that attract attention. In this way, she made them artistically visible.
I observed how the mashrabiya protected women from lust, giving them a sense of security, but also framing their gaze. These openwork constructions shaped their perception of the world.- says Anna Orska. And she adds - When designing jewelry from the Morocco collection, I wanted to change their meaning, to transform the symbolism of the ban into an undercurrent of possibilities. After all, jewelry allows you to emphasize your self-image, express emotions, or complement or even create the perception of a person. I wanted to take advantage of the fact that jewelry can give a voice.
The paper designs, created by the designer, were used as models by local craftsmen. Some of them cut a sheet of metal into small pieces, and then used a hammer to give them a specific shape. Others created intricate, complicated patterns from templates, patiently punching dozens of tiny holes or deftly using a jewelry saw to widen and shape each one. The use of the repousse technique in the jewelry created a lace effect and brought out the nuances, deepening the relief in some places to emphasize the shadows.
This play of light and shadow is central to the perception of the entire collection of limited-edition jewelry, which combines the rich tradition of the Maghreb with ORSKA's original style. The pieces, which are customarily made from golden brass, have been recreated in a local workshop from silver and nickel silver. In Anna Orska's atelier, they were additionally coated with graphite oxidation, highlighting the embossed designs. The dark texture of the main pieces was juxtaposed by the designer with gold-plated details in the form of gemstone settings, decorative links or ornament edges. Some of the jewelry was enriched with sea-blue zircons, plated sapphires or faceted aquamarines. Combining simple forms with complex ones, ORSKA gave the travel collection a contemporary European character. Thanks to the play of symmetry and asymmetry, the designs gained the characteristic style of the ORSKA brand.
Morocco teaches that drawing from other cultures enriches. The same idea has guided Anna Orska's artisanal journeys from the beginning, as she reinterprets the aesthetics of the colorful African country, focusing on elaborate ornamentation that rarely appears in her minimalist designs.