For Welcome Signs, Vinit has produced a series of necklaces that are designed to be worn by blind people. For this, he has focused on the quality of sound – a dimension not often considered in jewellery. He has created necklaces made from tiny bells of many colours woven together.
The idea came to him while playing with bells in his studio. To realise the project, Vinit worked with an organisation for the blind called Kow-Mai, which means ‘new step’. Photographs of blind people wearing the necklaces were taken by his associated Pichai. The necklaces are then exhibited alongside the photographs and all money from sales is returned to the organisation. According to Vinit, the participants enjoyed the sounds of the necklace greatly, but also wanted information about how they looked as well, even if this wasn’t something they could experience directly.
According to Vinit, ‘the important thing is to let them know that people still care about them.’ In the context of Welcome Signs, Vinit’s work asks the interesting question of how we make welcome those who can never fully belong to the same world.
In Thai culture, the phuang malai is a floral garland that symbolises beauty and respect. While blind persons can smell the jasmine scent, they are unable to enjoy its visual beauty. Vinit has given a new dimension to the garland with the addition of sound. It also makes us ask some important questions:
- What is the ongoing role of the participants? We get to see images of them wearing the work, but what do they get from us?
Vinit provides a broader audience with a taste of the new contemporary jewellery emerging from Thailand. If Vinit’s work is anything to go by, then we might expect new work that approaches jewellery from left field, probing its shared value. According to Vinit; ‘My interest in jewellery comes from my surprise that people would like to wear jewellery. In some cases, they have to experience pain before they can wear jewellery.’ Thai jewellery is bound to surprise.
For more contemporary Thai jewellery, visit Atta Gallery.
Vinit Koosolmanomai’s work will be on display in Welcome Signs: Contemporary Interpretations of the Garland.