On January 24, the PNM turned 60 years old. Quite surprisingly, there was an absence of fanfare to mark the occasion.
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The art of divergence
My name is Jonathan Mohess and I make wire art jewellery.
I’m from San Fernando, born and bred. I’m not putting down South people, but it’s hard to be “different” in any way, in South.
Mohess is a Hindu name. My dad is Indian, my mom is a “Spanish.”
My significant other is Heather Ball. We’ve been together for a long time and we will be together forever. She’s Canadian.
I believe in a supreme source but I’m not bound by religion. Religion has been distorted and abused and, in some cases, is just a tool to control people.
Before we set foot on the Earth, we already know what we’re going to experience. Some people will be the butcher and some will feel the butcher’s knife. But I don’t believe in the Hindu caste system. That’s one of those tools to control people.
In my world, it’s not about praying that God will stop the rain for the cricket; it’s about energy: you project the result you want and it will happen.
You have a choice: to do right and to make better. We have to struggle to give some meaning to this vast emptiness.
I hated school from the beginning. Teachers would regurgitate material that didn’t incorporate how to grow up and what to face in life. I had a hard time concentrating in school—but I can sit for eight hours straight at my table with jewellery. Because you’re not told you have to do it in one certain way. And that’s what school was like.
I started jewellery a year ago but, if I hadn’t fallen victim to—“ Sit behind a desk in a suit and tie, and you will be successful”—I’d have had a lot more experience in jewellery-making. I spent years doing business administration, then human resource management, then health & safety.
The harder you try, in this system, the swifter you’re going to be cut down. Especially if you’re genuine. If you fake it and cut people’s throats, you’ll reach on top easily!
A year ago, I just walked off the job, went home and started focusing on jewellery. It was like I walked through the door, stumbled on a piece of wire and said, “Hmmm. Let me bend that”. When I look back, I can see it was some really lame pieces, but that’s how my work started.
I have no jewellery-making training whatever. Never went to school. Never watched a video on YouTube. I have a great imagination and, if I lay down for a few minutes, I will see things. Spirals—I LOVE spirals—and things. It’s all about sacred geometry.
I have no idea what I’ll be making when I start. I CAN’T sit down to make 15 pairs of butterfly earrings. Each piece I make is not calculated. Whatever material I have will become something. If it’s ten feet of wire, it will become something; if it’s five feet of wire, it will become something way different. It depends on the texture of the wire, the feel of the wire; and my mood.
Every day I sit and make enough jewellery that would be a day’s salary but we don’t have a store, just a home studio. So we sell at markets and we get maybe one or two markets for the month and it’s not enough.
I’ve met people on my page in Canada, off-the-grid-type people. There are a lot of people in Trinidad on the same page but it’s as though they don’t have the capacity to be who they are or want to be. Because people in Trinidad judge: something is wrong with you. That’s the vibe I get from people who, otherwise, would be my kindred spirits
Selling our items abroad, where people appreciate handmade, would be a lot easier. Wealthy people all around the world are buying handmade. Except in Trinidad!
I have a cousin who isn’t creative at all but, when he comes to my studio, he says, “Man, I feel to make something!” That’s the best part of the job. The bad part is, in South, people say, “That’s just junk!” But they pay top-dollar for mass-produced items. A little bling and they go mad.
If I’m sitting on a bus in Canada and I hear another Trini speak, I’m instantaneously happy: so, for me, a Trini is family.
Trinidad & Tobago is who I am. This is where I’ve grown and understood things.
• Read a longer version of this feature at www.BCRaw.com
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