Inoka Samarasekara: The Tangled Jewelled Maze
Inoka Samarasekara is a Sri Lankan designer and researcher interested in the histories of material culture from South Asia. ‘The Tangled Jewelled Maze’ is an exhibition project that aims to preserve, renew, and reimagine Sri Lankan jewellery forms impacted by colonisation and globalisation.
The exhibition comprises annotated drawings of historical jewellery objects and expresses the early cosmopolitanism of Sri Lanka. The drawings document traditional bridal regalia from the Kandy region influenced by Portuguese, Dutch and British settlement, and trade. It also incorporates mediaeval 18th century Sri Lankan techniques that manifest subtle details, abstraction, and symmetricity in form. The collection is presented as an archive that counters the dispersal of the country’s antique jewellery by developing contemporary interpretations through necklace designs commemorating the cosmopolitan history of the island.
Accompanying the drawings is a suite of renderings of keepsakes and heirlooms held by members of the Sri Lankan diaspora in Sydney. The associated collection of contemporary necklaces aspires to reimagine and depict the diverse cultural identities of the diaspora that shape Sri Lankan jewellery. The beads used in these objects take their inspiration from natural seeds and seed pods grown in Sri Lanka and Australia, demonstrating a new vernacular for Sri Lankan jewellery inspired by diasporic narratives.
Inoka Samarasekara would like to acknowledge the support of Associate Professor Katherine Moline and Dr. Zoë Veness at UNSW Art & Design. This research was funded by the Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship. The exhibition is supported by the Faculty of Arts, Design & Architecture.