Meet the multicultural artist, Anokhi, the founder of the fascinating brand Anoqi

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Could you introduce yourself? What is your background ?

I grew up in India and have been living between South Africa and India for the last 15 years. I have had (and continue to have) a career in international development and have worked all across the African continent on issues such as sustainable cities, renewable energy, and climate change. Alongside, travel, art, and queer culture have been constant features in my life.

How was your brand born? What does Anoqi mean?

In 2012, I was working on my doctorate in London and desperately needed a creative outlet. I took some jewelry courses on a whim and I was hooked! I didn’t take it very seriously for a few years, it was a hobby that I dabbled in from time to time, mostly making things for friends and family. Early last year, I decided to get more serious about creating and, serendipitously, I came across jewelry made by architects. It immediately struck me that there was so little celebration of ancient African architecture (which I have been so moved by through my travels), even though Africans from all over the continent have such a rich tradition of jewelry and adornment. So I decided to get serious and design a line celebrating ancient african architecture.

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Dgenne ©Nick Boulton

Can you tell me about your creations?

Anoqi celebrates ancient African architecture through jewelry. My work highlights Africa’s antiquity through adornment, and hopes to surprise people by the buildings’ ancient yet almost modernist qualities.

#Antiquity, the first line, is a series of three rings:

1) Church of Lalibela, 12th century Ethiopia. King Lalibela of the Zagwe Dynasty commissioned 11 rock-hewn churches to recreate the holy city of Jerusalem in his own kingdom. The church of Lalibela sits spectacularly carved into the landscape and remains an important church for orthodox worshipers in Ethiopia today.

2) Mosque of Djenne, 13th century Mali. The Great Mosque of Djenne was first built in the 13th century and demolished several times over centuries. The current structure was built in 1907. Constructed from adobe bricks, it is a marvel of Sudano-Sahelian architecture. I love how this mosque is alive even today that it is repaired and rebuilt by the people of Djenne, every few years (see video).

3) The Pyramids of Meroe were built in 700 BCE in the capital city of the Kingdom of Kush — Meroe. The Kingdom survived until 400 BCE, when it was captured and burned by the Kingdom of Aksum. Unlike the other two rings, Meroe is a historic site rather than a living city but it is remarkable that 200 pyramids still stand.

I make androgynous/unisex pieces, that are big, have bold lines, and hopefully tell beautiful stories. These are statement rings for statement people.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Oh, from so many places — architecture (of course), traditional jewelry and crafts, modernism, music, queer culture, and travel.

How do you work?

I take my time with designs. I start with a nugget of an idea, which I research extensively, making sketches along the way. I then nervously procrastinate forever. Eventually, I get sick of procrastinating, set myself unreasonable deadlines, and move very quickly from the sketch to the model to the pieces. It really is a madenning way to work, as it is very slow, but it works for me!

Which stage do you prefer in the realization?

The earliest stage — when the idea is born. For me, it’s the most exciting phase as it gives me a new idea to obsess about and immerse myself in. Since I am a researcher at heart, I learn the most in this phase. I also really love seeing the end product worn by somebody — that brings me huge joy.

What is your particularity, your singularity?

For now, it is that my work draws inspiration from ancient african architecture.

Where to get your creations?

You can order via instagram: anoqi

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Djenne © Nick Boulton

Written by

Promotion de l’Art Africain

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