Elize Rostant: Nature’s jeweller

Story and photographs by Mark Lyndersay.
Originally published in the Sunday Arts Magazine of the Sunday Guardian on December 01, 2013
Elize Rostant working on pieces from her Christmas collection at her Cascade home. Photograph by Mark Lyndersay.

Elize Rostant had one of those engagingly bohemian childhoods that’s this country’s best gift to a child.
Growing up in Gasparillo, her parents spent many hours piling into the family car on trips into the countryside.
“It was really seeing the country,” as Rostant recalls. “I’m just trying to recreate that beauty in my work.

"She was raised along with two sisters and two brothers by parents who were both teachers.
“Looking back I realise it was a very academic household. My parents were the only people on the street who had gone to university. We had a library and when we read and found something we didn’t understand, we would have to go and look it up in the encyclopedia.”

“That was just normal to me then, but I know now just how uncommon that was.”
Almost as uncommon as her distinct memories of her father in a dashiki and full afro deejaying as Sio’s Super Sounds and a mother who continued to play music for pleasure.
“We were encouraged to experiment,” she said.

So Elize Rostant did, and found her calling in art early in an internship with jewelry designer Gillian Bishop when she was just 15. The family connection was hardly tenuous. The late Pat Bishop was the godmother of her sister Alyssa; so another Bishop adopting another Rostant was just part of the flow between the families.

Elize Rostant would go on to take her degree in fashion at the Savannah College of Art and Design crunching the course of study into an intensive two and a half years.
Of all the design paths that the school trained her for, however, it seemed that she was always on a path back to jewelry.
“Even my finals work had these metallic collars,” she recalls with a smile.

With formal training in design, she began to appreciate her mentor Bishop’s work even more.
“I’m always inspired by her work; you’ll see a gem hanging off the piece by just a little wire. Amazing stuff.”
The young artist returned to T&T and took up a job at the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism to render the compensatory service that her scholarship called for.

“Last year I realised that I hadn’t done anything for two years, and it was really time to do something.”
The show that resulted from that first return to her art met with mixed results.
“My last collection included feathers, which people liked, but didn’t buy,” Rostant confessed.

But the young jeweller isn’t daunted and will present her work, alongside other work by Christine Lorde and Gillian Bishop at the Christmas Bazaar by Signature 2000, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh 3.0 beginning at the Hotel Normandie on December 08.
Potential buyers will see in her new work an enthusiasm for colour and textures expressed using beads made of glass, acrylic and wood along with fabric and ribbons.

“I have to be conscious of the weight of the work when I’m done” she admits with a hearty laugh. “I’m also thinking a lot more about whether someone will wear the piece.”
During Carifesta in Suriname she met the husband and wife team behind Atelier Doré (http://ow.ly/rdFVF) whose work in silver rekindled her desire to work with metals again.

Rostant is keen to get behind a jeweler’s bench again, but works steadily at her dream on a restored Singer sewing machine which doubles as a work bench for her current works.
She’s working in a humble atelier of her own, a cozy space poised above her small living room in a Cascade apartment, the single bulb burning down on the polished, weathered wood as she deftly twists metal filaments and fashions cascading fingers of beads into organic shapes that she hopes will be just the right accessory for a customer.

Visitors to the Signature Christmas bazaar can expect vivid colours and delightful textures from Elize Rostant’s new collection as well as an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of early work from a promising new jewelry designer.
“I want to produce work that really expresses me,” Rostant says, “work that’s lasting in the world. This collection will be for the woman who has style and wants to make a bold statement with her accessories.”

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