Historically, women were recognised healers and wise women, with vast herbal knowledge passed down from mother to daughter. Due to the demonisation of women by the Church and State, this once treasured oral knowledge and female inheritance has been lost in time. In modern society, progressions in medicine and science have created a new world, yet our approach and understanding of women’s health continues to be marginalised and under-studied. In particular, reproductive issues continue to be highly stigmatised with limited treatment options for women. To counter this culture, I envisioned a collection capable of communal and holistic healing, offering a return to our traditional co-existence with nature’s resources, re-connecting us to our ancient foremothers. Walking the line between ritual, mythology and science I rebirthed women’s lost histories, returning to the earth around me and my Celtic roots. I foraged for seasonal remedies from local plants, imbued silks with healing essences and cast metals into the ancient memory of her native trees. Using scientific research, data collected directly from women and consultations with professional healers, I designed jewellery and vessels that actively contribute to women’s health, utilising holistic healing benefits that work in rhythm with women’s lives. A collection to simplify cyclical treatments, reduce painful symptoms and create soothing moments through meditative healing rituals.
Antispasmodic oils are poured into tactile glass vessels to be massaged into the abdomen, reducing cramps and feelings of tension – let your fingers choose the indentations and movements. Follow the drawings that cover the bodies of the women as they work, a shared history visualised on the battlefield of the female form.
Natural silks are dyed and soaked in herbs, nettles and iron ore from the earth; with a loved one, wrap them round your stomach and breasts; dandelion will soothe the swelling. Hold these soft loops of silk around the body with copper rings and buckles, bio-patinated with natural materials. Adorn the knotted fabric with pins cast in the bark of Celtic trees, imprinted with the ancient memory of the wood.
A box, born from the Celtic rituals of the river, dressed in the language of women, holds a remedy for your pain.
Charms, created from Eve’s apple to the fallen angels of the female surrealists, can be tied in your hair when feelings of premenstrual anxiety occur. Let them negate the harmful actions of your hands.
Herbal remedies are held in cyclical vessels that personify the emotions of our menstrual seasons, guiding you through the medicinal process.
Watch over time for the effect of your touch. Unlike human creations, the natural world is constantly changing, growing, evolving and dying – briefly existing before making room for new life. Neither this metalwork or the fabric will last forever, these pieces will change as they are used, evolving with the wearer as the body bleeds, sweats, and changes with them.
Together let us rebirth the lost histories of matrilineal knowledge and the rich traditions of communal healing which once connected and supported women.
Designer Treeney Harkin
Photographer Amy Beasley
Stylist Ellie Hook