TAVAKE Breast Plates: Made from a combination of up-cycled, domestic plastics, cut and finished by hand.
Helena Kaho is of Tongan and Cornish descent, with ancestral links to Samoa and Uvea. While pursuing a legal career, she has always been creative at heart, working in her spare time across different mediums as they take her fancy. Most recently she has been making handcrafted jewellery from recycled plastic bottles and other discarded materials. An inspiration for the jewellery is her love of pique - a Victorian technique used for jewellery and accessories which involved heating tortoiseshell and inlaying it with silver designs. Pique souvenir jewellery was common in the Pacific in the 1920s-1940s, and the idea of silver inlay is replicated in many of her pieces using recycled metals instead of silver and plastic soda bottles and op-shop nailpolish replacing tortoiseshells. Also reflected in her work are her love for Pacific motifs and patterns of antiquity, including glyphs from Tongan war clubs, pre-European carvings - especially the figure of Hikule’o, female goddess of the underworld - and ngatu (tapa cloth) designs. A stylised version of the 'Tavake' or red-tailed tropicbird, an ode to her late father Tavake Kaho, also graces many of her designs.