Patrick Mavros is a proud Zimbabwean with luxury stores in Zimbabwe, Nairobi, Mauritius and London. His silver jewellery is directly drawn from his lifelong proximity to wildlife, from little elephants, to bustling meerkat families. The Mavros studio is located on the hills just outside Harare, Zimbabwe. Patrick Mavros owns a London flagship considered one of the most coveted stores in the British capital.
Patrick Mavros talks to Eilidh Hargreaves about how he transformed one pair of wooden rose earrings into a world-renowned family business.
Words: Eilidh Hargreaves
What led you to become a jeweller and sculptor in Zimbabwe?
I left school in a country that was tied in a ribbon with sanctions and went straight into [the Rhodesian Bush] war for eight years and then I became a baker. A lot of what I did was out of necessity. [After my marriage] I carved a pair of wooden rose earrings for my wife, Katja. Her friend liked them, and got a pair, so the business was started – I was a soldier, a baker, and then an earring maker. The development of the business came from necessity – paying the bills was where I was concerned – and developed with success into passion, hard work and integrity. I had polio when I was five, I didn’t win anything at school – I grew up in the crucible of fire, so I wasn’t going to take it lying down when I was making a few bob by creating beautiful jewellery for pretty people. And then came the rush and I never stopped.
What inspires your silver creations?
My pieces are proper stories. They are all about real things that have happened in my life, generations of life in my country, and now in my sons’ lives. It is a very important interpretation of a rich tapestry that takes thoroughly disciplined workmanship and integrity. You can look at contemporary art, and stare at it with your glass of wine and eat your small cheese and say ‘oh how interesting,’ but there is actually zero interpretation in much of it. Because I am excited about what I do, I try to get light and flight and realism into every piece.
What are your motivations?
I said in the beginning, I do not want to be a poor artist. Don’t be an artist who says, “I’m a great artist but a terrible sales man.” Learn how to be a sales man, get the confidence and sell it. Stretch your day from eight hours to 16 hours a day. That’s what I do, to get going and to get ahead of the rest of the pack. Every single thing is achievable with hard work and attention to detail. Just do it. I am driven by money, but also by what the future has to say about my contribution. My contribution is going to be what silver sculpture brought to the creatures – the animals and indigenous people – that helped me become a success. I want to produce the perfect piece that gets the money, the attention and becomes the heritage that has allowed everything to prosper with me along the way. As part of my upbringing in Africa, that is one of the golden rules: share or starve. Ultimately, if you do not share you will be isolated.
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What made you expand to London 12 years ago?
Tens of thousands of Brits came to visit us when Zimbabwe became independent, a lot of them tourists. My studio was on a beautiful piece of land, which was the greatest place to go because of the spectacular views and interest factor. I have a London store because my customers are here. They have all visited me in Africa and I have made friends with a lot of them! It has become well known and celebrated, because it’s a nice place to come and relax. My staff are polite and welcoming, and we invite nice people. That causes a buzz.
Patrick Mavros has a London store is run by his son, Alexander, on 104-106 Fulham Road. Visit his website here: http://www.patrickmavros.com/