Memories come in many different formats: a cinema ticket stub from a first date; the smell of a particular coffee roast you tried on holiday; a piece of jewellery, signifying a momentous date, that never leaves your finger (or keepsake box because youre petrified of losing it).
On face value, most memories sound familiar, but however pedestrian an object, scent or story may seem, each is intrinsically unique to an exclusive number of people. An intimate moment in time thats captured forever.
Poetic sentimentality aside, establishing memories is also scientifically beneficial to our wellbeing. Certain studies have revealed that changes in brain neurons are linked to the formation of memories, suggesting that the creation of them is associated with the strengthening of existing neurons or even the growth of new connections. Its also suggested that improved memory is associated with better jobs and better relationships. So in summary, memory wont just get you off the hook for forgetting your mothers birthday (again) itll actually improve quality of life.
One couple who demonstrate this theory is renowned photographer/designer Ronan Mckenzie and tattoo artist Diogo Rodrigues. They have perfected the art of creating memories in their relationship and through their creative projects. In partnership with Gucci to celebrate their newest jewellery collection inspired by love, Link To Love, we caught up with the duo to discuss how objects can be so much more than mementos, giving fashion and photography deeper meaning, and inking memories onto their skin
Diogo and Ronan met while they worked in an American Apparel on Londons Carnaby Street seven years ago, where they bonded over their love of art galleries, photography and Japanese-inspired tattoos. These shared interests grew into something much bigger, which saw Ronan exit the world of retail to pursue photography professionally. She received commissions from the likes of Glossier and size-inclusive brand Universal Standard (to name but a few), while Diogo became an established tattoo artist in East London.
But it all started with an extinct reptile...
I wanted to get a dinosaur on my finger, Ronan says stroking a small black and white T-rex tattoo, reminiscing about the early days. I went to a parlour and they were like, No, its too small Im not going to do it. It was at the very beginning of our relationship; I came into work and we were chatting. Diogo said hed do it for me and wrote down his Tumblr on a scrap of paper. I still have that paper in my old purse. Thats the earliest keepsake I have. Then he actually did the dinosaur tattoo on my finger. I was supposed to just get that one, but then I got carried away and had all four fingers done!
Ronans sentimentality expands beyond expired social media accounts and into other elements of her body art. I have these two on my hands that are my mums hands from a picture that I took of her holding coconuts in Barbados, which is where shes from. Diogo tattooed it for me so it has double meaning.
I was supposed to just get that one, but then I got carried away
A lot of people come to you with very sweet stuff, she says, looking at Diogo. They want a picture of their dog, parents or boyfriend.
But not every piece has to have a deep, literal meaning. A tattoo marks a moment of time in your life, Diogo philosophises. When I look at mine, its not a direct reference to something. It just allows me to remember a specific period of my life.
People used to say, What if you break up? because I have so many tattoos by him, Ronan says. But whatever happens, its still a moment thats been captured.
PHOTOS SAY A THOUSAND WORDS
I think thats the special thing about photography: its something thats never going to happen again, Ronan says, as she explains why photos are the ideal keepsake. Actually, I got into photography because of Diogo, in a way. I was starting to get interested and he had a camera that his dad gave him.
Yeah, on one of those gallery trips to the Saatchi in the early days, I showed you how to use an analogue camera for the first time, he reminisces.
I wasnt listening because you smelt really good, she recalls. I wasnt listening to any of this aperture talk! But then I began to use one of Diogos cameras to shoot and that was why I started on film and not on digital, because that was what I had access to thats how I found my signature style.
Although shes shot for prestigious make-up brands and glossy magazines, theres a more intimate subject closer to Ronans heart. The work thats most special to me is about relationships, she says. Im really interested in connectivity and how people interact with each other, celebrating those quiet moments when nothings really happening. It's clear that Ronan and Diogo's latest jewellery collection, Link To Love, is inspired by love in these quiet moments.
MORE THAN A MEMENTO
Ronan receives jewellery every year from her mother, which she keeps in a jewellery box. Jewellery is so special, but I only wear the stuff that I bought for myself. I want to keep it safe because if I lose it, then Ive lost that special piece of my mum, she says. Even if my mum writes me a note or birthday card, I'll keep the envelope where shes written my name on it. My dad calls me every day and if I don't pick up he leaves a voicemail, and I keep all the voicemails even though he says the same thing.
That's the special thing about photography: it's something thats never going to happen again
Gucci Link To Love 18ct Gold Mirrored Ring
Gucci Link To Love 18ct Gold Bar Necklace
Gucci Link To Love 18ct Gold Chain Drop Earrings
Gucci Link To Love 18ct White Gold Diamond Ring
Gucci Link To Love 18ct Gold Studded Ring
Gucci Link To Love 18ct White Gold Diamond Bar Bracelet
You used to wear a seahorse necklace that your mum gave you for years and years until it broke, Diogo remembers. Now you carry it in your purse.
And you wear the ring that I got you, she says. But youre not as attached. If you lost one, would you be upset?
Yeah I would, but I don't tend to lose things
Youre looking at me like thats a me thing.
Although Ronan and Diogo haven't collaborated on work together, they are both cemented in each others projects from a foundation perspective thats invisible to those not in the know. From acting as each others canvases for tattoos to Diogo looking after their sick dog while Ronan set up her gallery, they have both been there and acted as inspiration for each other through major career milestones, combining love and work to create something truly authentic.
You cant fake it, because theres something so special when you really know someone and they really know you, Ronan states when explaining her photography ethos. There are really tender moments that happen between people, whether thats a love relationship, friendship or family. You can see it if its not real. The special thing about it is you get to tap into someone's life for a minute.
Shop Gucci Link to Love
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Memory making with London's most stylish creative couple - harpersbazaar.com
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