The energy of the Earth and the sun radiates from this creatress and her craft. Her harvests unveil the secret wealth and fertility of her native land Cyprus. The enchanting powers of the island have drowned the creatress in its waters and the waves carried her into the vastness of the sea. Defeated, she surrendered to the violent storms, and the darkness of the sea caves begot a goddess of unbreakable nature. She came bowing to the native soil, teaching others how to do the same.
“I come from a family of artists, a part of it is Cypriot, the other South African. I have inherited something very special from my female lineage. My great grandmother whom I connect to the most spun threads of silk that she collected from her silkworms and made cloth. She was known to be prophetic and her faith differed from the traditional orthodox beliefs of Cyprus.”
An intuitive lapidary, Jess works with local stones, gems and plants that produce a fusion of handicrafts that reconnect both the creatress and her clients to the healing properties of Mother Nature. Her online store Terra Solis provides a unique range of personalized, unrefined products, ranging from jewellery to smudges. Her current project Reveal is a tangible exploration of the rural areas of Cyprus. Jess collects the raw materials that she feels intuitively drawn to in places such as the peninsula Akamas, the beaches of Paphos or in her parents’ village Pera Chorio (Πέρα Χωριό). She gives her stones names that come to her from the divine energy of the universe, the Great Spirit.
“My project arose from my desire to distance myself from the predetermined names and meanings of stones. I wanted to hear what each unique natural creation had to say. Sometimes when I find them I immediately hear a name, or I may hear an adjective or see a picture in my mind. Other times a word comes to me after I have worked and wrapped the stone in the copper wires. I look the word up and it becomes a whole different adventure filled with magical discoveries. I can barely put it into words. I do use a tumbler when I work the stones. However I don’t like messing with their rawness and their natural beauty so I leave their rocky, imperfect shape. This is what I currently resonate with.”
Jess assigns her stones a function, a meaning and their healing properties. Each of her creations bear names that come from ancient languages which are no longer used but are the very root of the languages spoken nowadays. Each piece of jewellery carries a message, a beautiful incantation that explains the properties and the function of the stone. The message is addressed to the person that the stone goes to and hopefully resonates with each and every soul who takes interest in the creatress’ project. “The little note that complements my creations is supposed to be encouraging and revealing to the one who gets it.” Her homemade smudge bundles equally contain plants that she finds on the island. A mixture of lavender, rose petals and rosemary made to purify spaces and heal negative energy.
Just recently, Jess returned from an adventure that had a tremendous influence on her and on her work. Before coming back to her hometown two years ago, she travelled to Ethiopia where she worked for a humanitarian organisation and later lived in a spiritual community in the United States.
“No matter how in tune I am with the Cypriot land. I find it hard to identify with a specific nationality, it’s strange. I cannot fully identify as a Cypriot because I don’t speak Greek fluently and people around me notice this so I do get the ‘Where are you REALLY from?‘ Question quite a lot.”
Her creations aren’t merely a pass-time activity, but instead Terra Solis and her project Reveal stem from her struggling journey of falling back in love with her hometown and from her own personal healing.
“When I was younger I got sick of Cyprus. I developed a drug addiction, dropped out of art school and just wanted to leave the island. I was basically struggling mentally and physically. The tiny island made me feel claustrophobic and I started hating this place. My only escape was to travel and with time, I came to the bitter realisation that the grass isn’t greener on the other side. At the end of the day you cannot run away from yourself and your issues. It will follow you around no matter where you go. After my adventures and a lot of spiritual healing, I eventually came back home. It took time but eventually I realised that this is home. I finally learned how to appreciate the land and fell back in love with all that I have taken for granted. I think right now with Terra Solis I am learning to fall in love with Cyprus even more, I am in tune with Cyprus like never before. Everything that comes from my native soil is incredibly abundant! It’s magical.”
Jess’ grandfather, who from childhood on was passionate about local plants and mushrooms, has a collection of books that are particularly useful for Jess while she is learning how to identify the local flora.
“I just like going back to the roots, to the times of when we were connected to the earth. I prefer eating from our native land rather than depend on products that cross half the globe before ending on our plates. Why do we need to succumb to this consumerist madness? I am all about going backwards rather than forwards to be honest. But then again, what if going forwards and evolving consists of us looking back and appreciating that we have all that we need locally.”
Jess’ journey with Terra Solis started just recently in January 2018. “I wanted to do this for ages! I’ve been making jewellery for a long time now but I always thought that I needed to wait for the perfect moment in order to launch my own thing. But as we all know, that moment does not exist. There is no such thing as the perfect moment. I just needed to do it instead of sitting around and waiting. This is one of my main advice to young artists; just start even if it’s not the perfect moment and even if you’re not a master in your craft. It’s good to be ready to be wrong.”
So far, the creatress has sold her craft at markets, such as the market at New Division Pub, The To Xani Market in Limassol and the Easter Bazaar which is hosted by Πολυχώρος “Κόσμος Χωρίς Σύνορα”/ “World without borders”.
The markets are not only helping Jess to share her work and get to discover fellow local artists but they are also helping her to become more open to new encounters and step out of her comfort zone. “I’ve been trying to let go of my past. At one point I was going through so many mental health issues and I’ve been also recovering from an eating disorder, this self-work made me forget how to be around people. Recently, it’s been all about relearning how to connect with people while also selling my jewellery. I have met so many like-minded people thank to Terra Solis and I am truly grateful. It’s been a real healing journey in so many aspects. I started believing in myself more.”
While our conversation stirred towards the topic of life’s challenges and especially challenges that we, women in their twenties, are dealing with on a daily basis, something significantly frightening occurred to me. So far, almost every woman my age I have met struggled with a form of depression, anxiety or eating disorder at some point in her life. Jess and I were astounded by the number of women we know, ourselves included, who had disturbing thoughts about food and our weight throughout our lifetime.
“I think that, because in the West, most of our basic needs are met, we naturally tend to develop different types of issues. But also because I believe that humans are constantly evolving emotionally, we are more sensitive to the energies that surround us. However, I also agree that the social scrutiny is so much different nowadays. As women we are subjected to images from advertisements and social media that impose on us and our appearance almost self-evident requirements. Our appearance, our weight, our bodies and our sense of style is controlled and is under constant surveillance by the media and the market. There are a lot of women who are challenging that status quo and I hope that in the near future we can collectively break this stigma.”
While learning how to live a life as an empath and a sacred warrior who penetrated the darkest places of her psyche, Jess also manages to empower her fellow creatresses and creators. Her handicraft comes from a place of honesty and vulnerability, a place where the spirit strives to heal the collectivity and not only itself. Brought back to the shores, she is walking the earth with her bare feet, at her own pace.
You can support Jess’ authentic work here: