By Sarita Rajiv
As I enter the Ma’Mela studio in Bagsværd, I find myself walking into a kaleidoscope of colours, forms and textures. Traditional blue ceramics from Denmark rest comfortably with black Longpi pottery from India. Colourful Masai sandals from Africa jostle for my attention with indigenous tribal artefacts. Here and there are pieces of kitsch that would be hard to find elsewhere in Denmark.
It's hard to describe the Ma'Mela studio in one word - it's vibrant, whimsical and serious all at the same time.
I sit down for a chat with Ma'Mela's founder, Priya Zachariah to discover more.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the thought behind Ma’Mela?
Ma’Mela is about exploring different cultures through art and travel. It’s about sisterhood, about offering women the tools to empower themselves and inspiring women to become their own heroes.
I was born and raised in Tanzania, I did my high school and university in India and I’ve been living in Denmark for several years now. Having lived in different countries and continents, I have a deep curiosity about different cultures and a thirst for positive communities that support women, rather than tear them down.
Ma’Mela is a sum of my travels, cultural experiences and my love for indigenous art forms. The name itself is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘mela’ which means a gathering or a cultural fair.
How do your products reflect this unique blend of art, culture and sisterhood?
The concept of sisterhood is an intrinsic part of Ma'Mela. I offer handcrafted products made by women artisans. At present, my two main collections are the Masai sandals from Africa and the black Longpi pottery from India. I also have a small collection of vintage Danish ceramics.
To me, these are not just products; they are bearers of an ancient tradition. They carry within them old methods, art forms and stories that are increasingly getting lost in our mechanized world.
For instance, the Masai beads are symbolic of the world of the Masai tribe – each bead colour representing different aspects of the wearer’s character and life - beauty, courage, purity, strength, family and community. And the Longpi pottery, made using age-old pottery techniques, is symbolic of the natural process of creation, making it an integral part of child birth and marriage rituals in Thankhul Naga tribe in east India.
Stay tuned for the Longpi pottery giveaway below!
You’ve also created some art yourself. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
I'm not a trained artist, but I am a creative person. I have a deep appreciation for art, artisans and culture. I like taking simple things and transforming them into objects with a story, a message. When I first came to Denmark, I found many things unusual, amusing. My paintings and other creations began as an outlet for my creativity, as a way to voice my thoughts and opinions about the things and events I saw. There is a story behind everything I've created. For instance the ‘Girl with the finger on her lip’ is my take on the 1969 youth movement in Denmark. I've also created a small range of kitsch furniture that is a satire on the political situation in Denmark at various points in time.
What’s next for Ma’Mela?
My vision for Ma'Mela is for it to be a hub of cultural experiences. In addition to traditional handcrafted products, I intend to offer cultural experiences for women. For instance, a girls’ night out where a group of friends can enjoy an authentic Indian or African cultural experience - complete with a cooking session, traditional dress-up costumes, photo sessions, food and drinks at the Ma’Mela studio. For travel lovers, there are cultural trips to south India where we're going off the beaten track with groups of women. It’s about celebrating sisterhood with the women that matter in your life .
If this little peek into Ma’Mela has made you curious for more, check out the Ma’Mela website. If you're interested in experiencing a cultural night at the Ma'Mela studio, you can reach out to Priya here.
Ma’Mela is giving this beautiful piece from its Longpi black pottery collection to one lucky winner! To enter, leave a comment below mentioning which Ma’Mela product you like the most. For additional entries, follow The Orange Bag on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
This giveaway is open to residents of Denmark only. Giveaway ends on August 26 midnight; the winner will be announced here.
P.S: The winner of this giveaway is Deepa! Congratulations Deepa, I will be contacting you shortly.
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