Hidden Place

The concept of the Hidden Place collection stems from the human need to search for a place where one belongs, to search for one’s own child-mind and its hidden places which might help answer this question. “I began to think about how I left the world of childhood for that of adults and the collection represents my effort to stay in the world of my childhood a little longer only to find out that at the end of my work I actually don’t ever want to leave it,” confesses Janja Prokić when asked to explain what inspired the exploration of her own hidden places.

Hidden Place is a statement about childhood. In it, Janja brings to life her favourite literary childhood heroines, and given her own fate, she identifies with them. “I realized that the first three fairy-tales I knew by heart as a kid had heroines with a similar fate to mine. All those things they had to overcome in their stories are the things I am going through here and now,” says the author of the collection, who came to the Czech Republic with her parents from Belgrade in 1993, when she was nine. Together they left their homeland to escape the Yugoslav war, which was just beginning.

“All three little girls were yanked out of the safety of their homes, their everyday lives and suddenly thrown, not by choice, into a different world in which they had to find their way; just like I had to when we moved from Belgrade to Prague. Each of the three heroines has to overcome her own obstacle,” says Janja: 

“Alice (Alice in Wonderland) has to deal with time. She falls through a strange dark hole not knowing where it goes and suddenly she appears in an unknown world where things are far from normal … but what does it mean, “normal”? I also tend to have difficulties with time and find it hard to master. I talk to flowers and animals and I often feel as if they talk back.”

Then there is Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz) who is taken by a tornado from Kansas to Oz. On her journey to see the wizard who could send her back home, she finds new friends. And suddenly she doesn’t know where she belongs. I too do not know whether I belong to Belgrade or Prague.

The third one is Ariel (The Little Mermaid). In her search for a pure love which would last till the end of her days she leaves her underwater world for the human one. I don’t want to speak about what happened to the Little Mermaid, but in any case, I am looking for pure love.



keywords:

  • hidden places
  • childhood
  • uprootedness
  • return
  • fairy-tales
  • Alice
  • Dorothy
  • Ariel
materials:

  • silver
  • gold-plated silver
  • silk
  • semiprecious stones
  • pearls
  • enamel

Also, in Dorothy’s story there is a scene where the Tin Man asks the Wizard for a wholly human heart. The Wizard asks whether he is sure, because a human heart can break, which is extremely painful. But the Tin Man truly longs for it. He gets a ticking clock in the shape of a heart and is overcome with joy.  At the end of the story, Dorothy flies away in a hot air balloon back to Kansas. Before she boards it, the Tin Man tells her that he has just discovered what it means when your heart aches, because his has just broken. For me this is the most important moment of the whole story. And that is why the moral of all three stories for me is that we should not only use out heads to sort things out, but also our hearts. And when our hearts are open, they protect us from evil. But they too bring about the risk of becoming vulnerable; we can easily go astray in our own thought, and that is why it is good to hold our lives firmly in our hands. That is also the origin of the two symbols found in Hidden Place: human hands and the heart.” 

The collection is based on three pillars: ALICE’s crown, ARIEL’s necklace and DOROTHY’s armour.

ALICE is linked to the crown chakra; thus the jewel adorns the head. The crown has amethysts which help to open this chakra. Alice herself is calm and holds her heart in her hands. 

ARIEL’s distinct heart-shaped necklace is at the same time a casket. When the heart opens, it shows a little mermaid sitting on her rock and waiting. She is not quite in control of her life; she is waiting for her love; therefore, she has no hands. The necklace length lowers the heart to the chest and the belly. Despite its volume, the heart is very fragile and it is necessary to protect it with one’s own hands. It’s up to the owner to choose who to show what is inside. 

DOROTHY’s armour is a metaphor for fortifying oneself against life and this difficult situation is inspired by the Tin Man character, who has a heart ticking inside his tin body. Dorothy carries the armour, just like her own decisions in life, on her shoulders; she wears a cloak symbolizing the wizard and points to the archetype of a brave, super-heroine little girl.

All parts of the whole are stylized according to the synecdochical drawings from Janja’s diary, which she has kept on filling with new entries now for years. 

This set of jewellery is made of pure silver by galvanoplastics. Metal is combined with pearls, silk and semiprecious stones.



keywords:

  • hidden places
  • childhood
  • uprootedness
  • return
  • fairy-tales
  • Alice
  • Dorothy
  • Ariel
materials:

  • silver
  • gold-plated silver
  • silk
  • semiprecious stones
  • pearls
  • enamel

Night birds taking off to distant lands like to other people’s dreams. The chakras of my hands are the rabbit holes between the worlds. The mind is a puzzle made of escapes and arrivals. The storms head eastward. Salty are the distant seas. I taste them for the first time. The steps are white and black. They grow into the mind, turn into colours. Time, love, home. Three stories I know by heart. Alice’s forehead full of amethysts. They connect her to space. The crown of the movement of worlds and thoughts. The waters beat against the cliff like against the soul, the back of the head, the temples. The grinning cat sits quietly in a nest of seaweed. She observes the humdrum. Ripped from the world behind the looking glass, thrown in the one above water level. The rustle of fins. The eyes, two mothers of pearl. A grain of sand below each eyelash. The holy heart like an altar glowing with love. Heaven full of amethysts is quiet when the sun sets on the dark waters. A maid sitting on a rock of pearls. Ariel opens up her palms to all the worlds. Tin breath. Lion lying at the feet. Or the feet at the lion’s head. We long for valour. Together. We long for a heart. The body without a heart longing for one forges worlds. It bears the burden on its shoulders. Brave as Dorothy. Emeralds of clouds follow her steps between homes and homelessness. I sit in a new room. The word like a name for an unknown planet. Foreign speech. Foreign looks. Foreign. My soul disappears at times. Possibly wandering Through space. Belgrade is the real castle beyond the mountains and rivers. I sit and Vltava flows around me. I wish she could carry my message home. But she flows up north. South. It’s sunny. It’s bright. It’s childhood. Here in my soul a chilly wind blows. Carried from the sea by seagull song. The mark of knights as a stigma of childhood. I warm my hands with my heart. There are so many paths, Lands and worlds. Strength and courage. Fears and horrors. We are in a room. All four of us. Ariel, Alice, Dorothy, I. Everything is so familiar – the touch, The scent. And the seagulls sing: Set out on a journey. And the wind whispers: don’t forget anything. The clock ticks: Wave goodbye to your home. My heart On my palm. I don’t forget anything. Three little brave Hearts. In their own hands. The fourth is mine. Hidden place.

Hidden Place collection won the Czech Grand Design Award in 2015.