Artisans, over a course of time, need to stay creative and that they do by experimenting with new techniques, combining different techniques, or just move into a totally different field of art and craft. Creativity must be allowed to take its own course, so that the world gets to see creativity flourishing at its best.
When Diana Berisha-Mahmuti, also known as T’Danës, moved to Dubai in 2011, she was already a great collector of different styles of jewelry, thanks to her travels. “I would even buy broken pieces because I found something extraordinary in every small part of jewelry. In time, I started to combine different pieces of jewelry to creative a new pieces. The jewelry piece resembled a souvenir, as each piece was reminiscent of a town or a country that I’d travelled to.” You can visit T’Dänes facebook page to see those symbolic jewelry pieces.
So how did papier maché come into the T’Danës picture? Diana, also a big fan of recycling, says, “It was the sight of stacked newspapers that somehow triggered within me the need to reduce the amount of waste, if only in our household. That’s how I decided to try out the technique. I’m still learning it, but it is a lot of fun and gives me ample space for creativity.”
For Diana, papier maché allows her to see possibilities of creative interpretation beyond jewelry making. “I can see pottery and other home/personal accessories in my mind’s eye. Papier maché gives me the freedom to use colors as well, which is my primary call, being an academic painter. I love bright colours and bold forms. In fact I’m a great believer in any form of upcycling. One such upcycling creation is a brooch I made recently – I’ve turned a broken silver scarabee pendant into a lovely brooch, using paper- maché as a bug’s nest.”
If one allows Diana to talk about upcycling, she will be very happy to give you the whole history – how the best examples of modern day upcycling started in the thrifty 1930s where repurposing items was the only solution for families that had very little economic or material resources. She remembers her grandmother who, in her words, “had the hands of an alchemist. She would turn everything useless into something not only practical, but beautiful as well. She once made me a beautiful dress out of flour cotton bags.”
Living in Dubai and being a part of the ARTE community is very important to Diana. “Dubai is a very safe place to live in and in this safe place, as an artist, I can focus well on my work and get in touch with the best of the creativity inside of me. Moreover, safe and beautiful environments are crucial for one’s inner growth, especially when they allow one to transcend traditional ideas and patterns into creating meaningful new artforms of one’s own interpretations.”
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Photos are all sourced from and are copyright T’Danës
Photos are used with permission for illustrating this article.