Meet the Maker - Laik Ecola
Posted on 8 Jun 10:00
This weeks installment of our Meet the Maker series features Laik Ecola, a London based, genderqueer artist and jeweller with roots that run deep in the moorlands of the Yorkshire Dales and Jungles of Papua New Guinea.
As a child Laik was surrounded by talismanic tribal adornments from their mother’s village in New Guinea in their household. This early influence and their finding their own identity with the LGBTIQ+ community impacted their work later in life and now they create pieces, which much like the adornments they grew up around, embolden, celebrate and signify the status and identity of the wearer.
When did you start creating jewellery?
"My introduction to jewellery manufacture took place in North Yorkshire in my late teens whilst studying 3D metalwork in higher education. The tools, the industrial machinery, the flame wielding straight away appealed to my inner closeted butch and I got fully involved in making minuscule, wearable sculptures.
However I took an alternative creative path after this into fine art and sculpture, which led me out of the country side and down to my queer awakening in London.
It wasn’t until my early thirties and a good few creative crisis’ later that I decided to return to jewellery manufacture and peruse a career in the field."
Who inspires you the most?
"In my day to day life, I am continually inspired by my community…the queer, punk, radicals out there, the whistleblowers, fellow QTIBIPOC artists, activists, authors, individuals and movements who are pushing for reform and standing up against the tyrants governing our country right now.
They give me life and make me feel seen.
I also have to give a shout out to pretty much any jewellers/jewellery businesses who are ethical/sustainable. I’ve seen the damage of gold mining first hand in my mothers birthplace of New Guinea, so any jeweller who openly discusses their ethical practices and how they’re investing in safer global working conditions is a constant source of inspiration to my own practice."
What does ‘Queer’ mean to you?
"Don’t tick the box, create a circle next to it and find people like you, who make to feel seen, to step into that circle, decorate it with shimmer and widen the circumference until squares are no longer visible and you’re basically inside a giant disco ball!"
Please can you tell us a bit about your creative process?
"I haven’t really found a process that I stick to. Sometimes I’ll go for walk, listen to an audio book or podcast or go to a drag show/gig then something gets me thinking of a design from that. Other times I’ll sit and create illustrations about things I like or don’t like and that inspires a design. At the core of my practice I’m drawn to iconography and this often sets a template for me to play with."
What’s next for your creative practice?
"There’s so much I need to do! Priority goes to expanding my collection and upgrading my skill set. I’ve been practicing engraving and stone-setting and applying to grants to fund professional training in these fields so hopefully something will come from that."
Finally, for fun, what would be your dream piece to make or person to make for?
"I’m pretty deaf and a hearing aid wearer because of this. They’re quite boring and functional looking and I’ve always wanted to dismantle my hearing aid plastic casing and create a new one from scratch. Imagine a fair-mined gold hearing aid with ethical sourced gems set into it? Or some ear art that housed my hearing aids?!!"