Risza Lopes da Cruz tells us about the influences of traditional Timorese artefacts on her work 


Would you like to tell us a bit about the work you make?
I use my knowledge of traditional Timorese jewellery and ceremonial artefacts, and deconstruct them to create contemporary jewellery and accessories using sterling silver and base metal, gold and semi-precious stones. I like using modern tools and traditional techniques to get that rustic feel and texture to some of my jewellery pieces. Additionally, I really enjoy beading, and last summer, my sister-in-law and I worked together to create a contemporary beaded jewellery collection. 


Is your work influenced at all by your background and life experiences?
My work is inspired by my collection of antique ornaments and jewellery from Indonesia and Timor-Leste which is where my parents are originally from, and where my young family and I lived before moving to Brighton 3 years ago. 

My designs are based on ceremonial objects typically worn during traditional ceremonies, and each piece symbolizes something different: leadership, courage and bravery, celebration, and femininity and fertility.

For instance, I use the ‘Kaibauk’, a headdress used by village leaders, the ‘Belak’ medallion, awarded to warriors returning from war, the ‘Mamuli’, which celebrates femininity and fertility, the ‘Keke’, a ceremonial harvest bangle, and also the ‘Mortein’ beads from Timorese dowry necklaces.

One of my best-selling pieces has been the gold vermeil bangle, incorporating hand-stamped ‘Kaibauk’ and small ‘Belak’ charms. It is a simple and elegant piece to celebrate leadership and courage. For this Christmas open house, I’m making the ‘Belak’ medallion as a Christmas tree ornament. It is an additional piece to my collection, which is proving to be popular particularly this year.



Who else will be exhibiting with you this year in your amazing Montpelier villa
This year at 92 Montpelier we have an incredibly talented group of artists taking part. The group has been beautifully curated and ranges from ceramics, to vintage kimonos, painting, photography, jewellery, candles, perfume & illustrations. Including bespoke chocolate making workshops from Be Chocolat.

Artists exhibiting in our open house are: 

  1. Alejandro M. Rodriguez – prints (alejez.com)
  2. Cecilia Trollby – @_cee.ceramics
  3. Corpo Sancto – scented candles (corpo-sancto.com)
  4. Seiko Kato – collage art (seikokato.com)
  5. Tiffany Lynch – prints and cards (tiffanylynch.co.uk)
  6. Tina Davies – ceramics (tinadavies.eu)
  7. Holly Loader – paintings (@hollyfoxwinter)
  8. Lucy Beacham – paintings (@lucybeacham)
  9. Emily Marston – ceramics & jewellery (@emilymarstonstudio)
  10. Richie Hopson – photography (@richiehopsonphoto)
  11. Risza Lopes da Cruz – jewellery (@by_risza)
  12. Be Chocolate – interactive workshop (@bechocolatbrighton)
  13. Alice Eden – jewellery (@aliceeden)
  14. Mo Kwan – glass art (@mocostalasglassart)


You will hopefully be open for three days, 11-13th December, when visitors will be able to see your exhibition in person. Do you think there will be some advantages for you to the new digital aspects of the AOH festival, running 21st November – 31st December?
Yes, absolutely! We are really excited about the digital aspects of AOH this year. Since lockdown people have been browsing far more online and purchases have risen. We can re-post, share and discover more artists too. Whilst the physicality and social aspect of the AOH is what we all love, I do think the additional platforms of the website and Instagram will provide a wider outreach and possibly let us engage with a wider audience. 

We are always adapting and looking at different ways to showcase and market, but with this brings a new level of creativity. I am not very good at promoting my products digitally, however, this year has pushed me to use technology more to improve my business performance. With all our efforts, let’s hope local artists and small businesses are supported this Christmas, more than ever, so we can continue doing what we love.

Book to visit: 92 Montpelier Road

92 Montpelier Road Open House