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The Story


The Story

The Pok collection celebrates the artistry of beading within the Pokot community. Belonging to North West Kenya, the Pok collection is inspired by the Pokot women who make complex and vibrant beadwork expressing their artistic abilities as well as preserving their cultural artistic heritage.

Our Pok collection furniture and accessories evoke the form, splendour and intricacy of the beaded ornaments created by the Pokot women with the addition of a modern twist!

We have introduced new materials in the form of semi-precious stones and colourful marble gems which have been carefully integrated into the beautifully crafted Pok collection pieces. Celebrating heritage arts and designing for a contemporary lifestyle.

SoShiro is showcasing the artistry of beading in collaboration with Zinj workshop, bringing this artistry to you in a whole new way! The beadwork is done on fine Italian nubuck leather panels that are then upholstered onto a beautifully engineered piece of furniture built in Venice – The Butler.

Zinj workshop makes beautiful beaded accessories embellished with a ‘contemporary take’ on traditional East African beadwork. Every piece is meticulously beaded and stitched by hand to a very high technical standard.

The workshop creates the patterns featuring different themes in their beadwork, for example, there is a theme called the ‘Origins’ that is inspired by ancient Africa, cave dwelling, rock art and the elemental artefacts of ancient times: bone, clay, hide, shells, rock, stone and fire.

Zinj – a name used by Herodotus to describe the ancient Swahili coast from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique – is the inspiration for this unusual little workshop, in the tiny, rural village of Takaungu, overlooking the Indian Ocean, where a small group of local beadwork artists create our beaded leather panels.

Pachigh Every[wo]mxn by Arlene Wandera

Our featuring artist – Arlene Wandera – was commissioned by SoShiro to create an art installation that exemplifies the Pokot beadwork aesthetic. This led to the creation of Pachigh Every[wo]mxn. In Arlene’s words: “The inspiration for Pachigh Every[wo]mxn began with online and li-brary research on Pokot body ornamentation during the period of the 1900s to the 1970s.

This led to my discovery that most of the descriptions about the ornaments paid little to no attention to the individual(s) who had pro-duced them; instead, emphasis was placed on the community be-hind the creations. The idea behind most of the texts I encountered was to remove the unknown maker from the work and substitute it with the group from which the maker came, thus making the work more “authentic” and “exotic” to the [predominantly] Western reader/ viewer.

Upon further research, I discovered that women were predominantly the makers of all Pokot body ornaments, and this prompted me to conceive Pachigh Every[wo]mxn, the installation. The first word in the title Pachigh, is a term variously translated by the Pokot as “beautiful”, “pretty”, “pleasant to look at” and “unusual”, and this to me is where the artwork begins.

The three-handed figure draws inspiration from an ongoing body of work titled “Everymen series”, which consist of a selection non-gender-descriptive figures that express my feelings, thoughts, and ideas about humanity and daily existence. I was also interested in weaving my everyday practice with the struc-tural elements that hold the beads together to form the ornaments, i.e. metal wire and leather, to generate conversations between the different materials and forms in the installation.

As you enter the space, my hope is that you as the viewer will en-gage in a ritual that immerses you in the space, visual field, light, and shadow of the installation and that you will come to celebrate and acknowledge all hidden figures beyond the space.”

Arlene Wandera was born in Kenya, raised in the UK and is based in London. She graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art, London and works with multiple mediums including sculpture, installation, images and performance. Her work employs familiar or forgotten materials to create a space that allows these objects to engage in an unorthodox and sometimes playful manner.”

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