Secular Rosary



'We Greeks traffic in jewellery. Whatever the fates may bring. Birth, death, farewell, welcome, marriage, betrothal, as well as business or betrayals (beware of Greeks bearing gifts)! The giving or receiving of some gold bijou or another commemorates nearly every occasion.

For thousands of years, the Hellenes have known that once the destiny of an individual is woven,it is irrevocable. To challenge destiny is to commit hubris and consequently bring down the wrath of Gods. So we both honour and placate fortune and the Gods with trinkets and adornments as we traverse our passage.

I have a lot of jewellery. A metallurgical family and life history that has travelled long and far with me. A sorry, tattered and ram shackled set of pieces. Occasionally, I'd take my pieces out and mourn them most were no longer wearable but I did nothing further for them Until my husband's birthday gift. A commission to have my family pieces remodelled.

I bundled up my pieces and took them to Barbara. Dropping my jewellery on her worktable, I said to Barbara I'd like you to take all these and erase them, mould them into something new. As you can see they're useless as they are... I pushed my pieces away disdainfully.

Turning them over carefully in her hands, Barbara picked up my old adornments and every so often paused and held a piece up to catch the light.

There is some beautiful work here. she said It would be a shame to loose it.

We talked about the design I had in mind. I was nervous.

I wanted to have something long to hang around my neck. But something I could also cradle in my hand. Not like the Greek worry beads...something more prayerful than that. A sort of cornerstone but one that I can turn and turn with in my hands. A sort of...sort of... ... ...secular rosary.

I had no clear visual idea for the design words are my business, so Barbara showed me pictures of semi-precious necklets and bracelets of early Mycenaean Greece. My culture, my history, these pictures resonated with me.

Barbara began to sketch. We talked of materials. Rose coloured bronzes, and pewter tin as well as high-grade gold. We added and subtracted materials and design, until Barbara held my pieces tenderly, like a museum curator cradling a treasured fragment.

I think. She said thoughtfully I can remodel these and not loose the sense of place of history. But I do not think we should erase them altogether their workmanship is quite unique. '

Helen Pavlides


'Rosary', is derived from rosarium meaning rose garden. In addition to their practical, aesthetic and psychological purpose, rosaries are highly sensual, inviting continual handling. Emblems of the monastic life, they are often an ascetic's only material possession.

Time and again a circle is used ceremonially to join people, create a sense of place and protect what is within. 

This temporal version is concerned with the affairs of this world. Specifically, what to do with those emotionally and culturally loaded trinkets from our childhood? 

Here they are! - the filigree and the engraved, here is the fretwork heart and the tiny bracelet - they proclaim in gold the infants fresh identity and her treasured place in the 'tribe'. 

Barbara Heath


  please email for more info  1997 Barbara Heath