Elke Kramer designs bold and chunky jewellery that evokes tribal traditions of decoration, and makes the dainty gems and metal of more delicate jewellery seem feeble in comparison. She has run her successful label, Elke, since 2004, and has also traversed the creative terrains of illustration, graphic design, textile design and independent publishing.
Having collaborated in the past with other Australian designers (Gorman, Romance Was Born, Colab, Maurie & Eve), Kramer was the perfect candidate to team up with other inspiring women – hand-picked by the not-for-profit organisation, Sunnyfield – to support its CFO Annie Doyle on her ascent of Mt Everest. Alongside Elke and the sherpas aiding them will be Cindy Gilbert (owner and director of Hype DC), Melissa Bergin (publishing entrepreneur), Sophie Cape (contemporary artist) and Kate Mitchell (installation artist). All are from different fields and fitness levels, but together they will attempt the 10-day climb to base camp, after which Doyle will continue on to Everest’s peak to raise money for Sunnyfield, which provides support for people with intellectual disabilities.
“There are some amazing stories of people [with mental disabilities] who don’t engage with society at all who, through the help of Sunnyfield, have got jobs, live outside of their parents’ home and have independence,” explains Kramer. “Sunnyfield provides a framework for families who need assistance and can’t afford it.” Creating awareness is something Kramer believes is important. “It’s easy for us to go about our lives and forget that these situations exist and need our attention.” For Kramer, climbing Everest helps not only to create awareness and raise money for the charity, but also serves as a fitting analogy. “People with intellectual disabilities, their families and carers climb mountains everyday without recognition,” reminds Doyle.
Though Doyle is a passionate climber who has completed the other six arduous climbs of the Seven Summits – the highest peaks of the world – this is Kramer’s first expedition. To prepare she took on weekly 10–12 killometre walks, as much yoga as she could fit in to her schedule and read what she could to gain insight on what to expect. The most surprising thing she found while researching, was that it is not the length of the walk that makes the trek to base camp difficult. “It’s relatively mild, it’s just that when you’re up that high, you can’t breathe. And the altitude sickness is the challenging thing.”
Apart from the altitude sickness, what else is Kramer looking forward to? “Coming from a creative field, I’m always trying to glean inspiration from any experience and I think it’s going to be visually quite rewarding. I’m excited to be inspired by the colours and the tones and the materials, because my work is so textural.” Elke does Everest for her next collection – we can’t wait.
To view Elke Kramer’s latest jewellery collection Moonstruck Monsoon, visit elkekramer.com