Monday July 15th, 2024
Download SceneNow app

Home is Where the Art is: This is the Story of Morocco’s She Archives

Working with Moroccan artisans, Cherise Dobbins crafts stunning pieces that pay homage to history, symmetry and mysticism.

Ziyad El-Helbawy

Home is Where the Art is: This is the Story of Morocco’s She Archives

She travels, she dreams, and She Archives. Steeped in mystery, the desert sands of Morocco birthed an enchanting jewellery label like no other. Within the ancient medinas and across the vast Sahara, nomad and jewellery designer Cherise Dobbins found her calling - and her creative home. Drawn to North Africa's rich cultural heritage and Indigenous rituals, the California native founded ‘She Archives’ and thus embarked on a nomadic journey spanning multiple continents.

It was in Morocco that Dobbins’ passion took root. Fascinated by Amazigh traditions and tales both mystical and royal, she delved into histories forgotten by time. Dobbins poured over archaeological texts and archives, uncovering jewellery's earliest forms among Egyptians, Sumerians and more. This extensive research fueled her vision for a collection celebrating ancestry through adornment.

And so She Archives was manifested. Working closely with Moroccan artisans, Dobbins crafts stunning pieces paying homage to symmetry in ruins, allegories both sacred and esoteric. Her collections capture moments both regal and luminous - the warmth of memory made treasures for today.

Within the North Africa Archives, royalty and landscapes are lovingly preserved from antiquity. The Desert Light Archives honours dunes vast and gold beneath sun, moon, and stars with intricate silhouettes. Now based in Morocco, she shares stories exhumed from sands which first set her imagination alight. Through She Archives, mysteries of the past are reborn.

SceneStyled recently had the pleasure of a virtual exchange with She Archives’ founder and creative Cherise Dobbins, in which Dobbins traced her own roots, and dissected the roots of her inspiration.

How did you come to discover your love for design, and how did you discover your love for travelling the world?

I come from a mixed cultural background, with my father being African American and my mother being British. Embracing my genetic blueprint and staying connected to my cultural heritage has always been important to me. Throughout my early adulthood, I lived a nomadic life, calling places like New Zealand, Australia, and currently Morocco my home. I've always had a strong desire to travel and immerse myself in different cultural environments. Connecting with the local people in each country I visit is something I find incredibly important.

My love for design is deeply connected to my admiration for ancient objects that hold cultural, archaeological, or archival significance. It is through this appreciation for the original masters and traditional methods of creation that I discovered my passion for design. The creative process itself has been therapeutic and healing for me, serving as a catalyst for me to delve deeper into designing meaningful jewellery.

Where did your travels take you, and how has that journey impacted you?

During my travels, I had the opportunity to explore various countries, including Morocco, Italy, Portugal, Thailand and New Zealand, to name a few. I've always been captivated by ancient cities and the enchanting aura that surrounds them. The local people, remnants of history, the architecture, the landscapes, and the traditions all contribute to a sense of magic that I find incredibly inspiring.

What did you expect life in Morocco to be like, and how did it end up being?

The beginning of my journey in Morocco felt very much like a lucid dream as I wandered around the old medina which felt very ancient at that moment in time. Most people would know Morocco as a tourist destination but for me, although I am not of Moroccan descent, it instantly felt like coming home.

The attraction that I have when it comes to being drawn to places that embody an old soul seems to have quite the effect on me creatively. I am a very visual person so when I first arrived to Morocco alone I was hit with a gust of creative inspiration due to how visually incredible it is. Morocco unlocked what felt like a sixth sense for me, the atmosphere is rich with shape, colour, sound and beauty.

Morocco has been a catalyst for my growth as a designer. Collaborating with talented Moroccan photographers and a very talented Amazigh silver master. This has been an incredible opportunity that has helped shape my brand. The abundance of creative talent in Morocco makes it one of the most inspiring places in the world for someone with a creative mind.

For the past eight years, I have proudly called Morocco my home, and it has become the birthplace of my jewellery brand, which has thrived in this vibrant and culturally rich environment. To be honest, I did not have any expectation of what life would look like for me in Morocco. I just knew I had an intuitive calling to touch the North African region.

I imagined that Morocco would feel very ancient and magical. I had to adapt to the way of life in Morocco very quickly, there were obstacles and challenges but it has all been worth it and has been a very growing experience. I have established many beautiful connections with the local people, many of them whom I consider family.

What was the initial vision for the brand and how do you feel that has evolved? I'd love to hear more about your fascination with Ancient Societies and how that came to be your defining element…

She Archives was officially launched in 2015 and was born out of my passion for research. I began studying historical archives related to the origins of jewellery tracing back to Mesopotamia and Africa, linking to Ancient Egypt and Sumer. The identity of my brand’s vision is heavily inspired by archives of esoteric stories, early anthropology, ancient landscapes and geometric forms found amongst dated architecture.

My vision is to create statement pieces that make one feel regal when worn and to design a personal amulet for the wearer infused with energetic protection. The eye of protection is heavily used within my designs, which is very connected to ancient cultures.

Could you walk me through each of your collections?

The North Africa Archives collection was inspired by the symmetry within the architecture of Ancient Egypt and Morocco, allegory related to ancient mysticism, and traces of old archival stories linked to royal figures among North Africa.

The collection is also influenced by the North African landscape and curated from the feeling of 'returning to the source', the motherland. One of my favourite pieces from this collection is the Temple Earrings, inspired by both Moroccan and Egyptian ancient architecture.

The Desert Light Archives Collection is dedicated to the Sahara Desert, the enigmatic beauty of the desert landscape, the golden light that encompasses the fine, voluptuous dunes and the desert's connection to the sun, moon and stars.

What sort of message do you seek to convey through your pieces?

It is important for me to create a world through my designs that embodies a sacred story, an ode to the original masters of jewellery, the craft itself, and the deeper understanding that the trade and adorning oneself is of sacred act, as recognized amongst indigenous groups across the red Earth.