Matrilineal Ring


After the death of a close friend and the subsequent tally of anonymous effects that he left remaining as mementoes, I was thinking about what I would wish to leave behind. Having married a non-Greek my efforts to maintain a cultural connection were now conscious ones. From a family history view, I was that point where 'Greek-ness' departed the lineage. Now that, as an adult, I embraced rather than rejected my cultural heritage - what object could I use to encapsulate this for my children.

The island of Kythera, birthplace of Aphrodite, has sunk and risen from the sea seven times - its history and mythology is as rich as the island's landscape is barren. The symbols that formed the backdrop to my childhood all spring from this source and this visual language is encoded in the ring.

Despina Macris (from interview)

* Kythera; the people of my mother's village carry the gifts they have made to my aunt's wedding.


Jewellery is the matrilineal currency - remembering the grandmother - the great aunt - back to when the personal object was all women had to transmit down the ancestral ladder.

The investment of the individual personality into their place on the totem pole. Grandma's lizard brooch, mother's puzzle beads - what pieces shall each of us put in place in that matrilineal line, what shall we hand down?

The brief - a large envelope of visual ephemera; postcards, family photos, stephanotis wedding crowns, scraps torn from magazines etc. formed the visual feast from which to draw clues for this piece. The client added that she loved the sound element in jewellery, the fine tinkling of Indian jewellery and its rich, ornate quality.

The five symbols around the top of the ring represent in turn; the Orthodox Church, the stephanotis flower, the all-seeing eye, intelligence (rational) and water (the sea).

Barbara Heath


please email for more info

1997-2001 Barbara Heath