By Marshelle Haseley | Photos courtesy: Melanie Schwapp and Ayanna Dixon

“The word HÜM (Hoo-m, with the letter U bearing umlaut is a phonetic play on the words Hum and Home, Who and Whom). HÜM is the Hum in your Home that shapes Who a person is in a holistic way. It was inspired by The Hum discussed by The Queen of Thursday Night, Shonda Rhimes. A hum is defined by the Camrbidge dictionary as “…a continuous low sound”, “to sing without opening your mouth.” Most suitably for this discussion, a hum is also defined by the dictionary as a state of being “…busy and full of activity, excitement, sounds or voices.” ”

Panache magazine is intrigued by what takes place in one’s spaces of HÜM- and so, we have decided to embark on a journey of delving into the HÜM of creatives and professional game changers.  We seek to gain some insight into their processes of their spaces of silence and internal voices- the spaces where these individuals dream, find inspiration, recover, work behind the scenes and experience universal love. It was a pleasant experience to meet with Melanie Schwapp and Ayanna Dixon to explore their HÜM.  Two of Jamaica’s most beautiful, expressive and absolutely talented creatives.  The work, style and expressions of these women emit so much more than what meets the eye.  Their striking beauty is coupled with positive energies and classic personality, grace and regal posture.

Ayanna Dixon in her space of HUM Ayanna Dixon in her space of HUM

Designer, and founder of ASD Clothing and Illustrations, Ayanna Dixon, an Antillean pearl, ushered us into her space of HÜM.  Jamaica’s first introduction to her would have been on the 2011 season of Mission Catwalk. It was this platform that may have added even greater momentum to the manifestation of her clothing line. ASD was born and is still operated from Ayanna’s at-home studio. She admits that her work spaces span throughout most of the lower level of her one bedroom loft- predominantly between her studio and a specific corner of her living area. Upon entering her work spaces, you can immediately feel the sources of her inspiration – photographs of her family and closest friends. Moments documented from childhood to present day, painting a cubist acrylic summary of her persona. A vintage sewing machine grabs the eye, with a backdrop of original sketches, oceanic themes and vibrant Caribbean colour blocking. “The beach is my happy place…” exclaimed Dixon, and these aesthetics and energies – the Caribbean vibe infused with regal overtones are vibrantly reflected in the body of her work.
These spaces began as her space of HÜM before she completely dove into work as a full time artist.  There was a point when Ayanna balanced her personal art with working in a corporate setting.  She explained that even though she enjoyed the work she was able to do in corporate; it was somewhat limited due to resources available.  In contrast, working in a personal space, on ASD projects allowed her to use her imagination in new ways, expressing herself in a way that was most authentic to her- flexing creative muscles. This at- home studio became her post work outlet, an oasis for creativity. “I would work from nine to five in corporate, sometimes longer- then I would come home and do ASD work until 2:00 am in the morning.”  She further explained that apart from working in the comfort and convenience of her own home, which is as “at-home” as your workspace can get, she emphasized the importance of having a specific space, that being her studio, designated for work and only work. The space seems inviolable- especially after getting a greater understanding of the articles in the space. Books on her shelf, references for concepts and techniques learnt and practiced from design school.  To the left of those, her very first sewing machine, which for her is more than just a machine- but the beginning of her dream actualizing.  On the walls are photographs of her past work, which she gazed at, explaining that they gently help her to remain grounded in her journey- reminding her of how far she has come, while still remains true to herself and her expressions.  Among her most sentimental possessions in her studio are her dress forms.  “They are not mere mannequins…” Ayanna explained.  She unravelled the back-story of the day she received them from her father and step-mom and how much it meant to her- “I cried, because acquiring them felt like a huge symbol of growth and progress.”
Throughout Ayanna’s home- it is evident why her HÜM is so colourful.

“When looking for a home in Kingston, it was a wish to have her children experience that priceless amount of bliss and magic that comes with growing up in a yard with space and vegetation.”

Melanie Schwapp, is best known for her novel, Dew Angels- originally published in 2011 and winner of the “Literary Classics Seal of Approval”. It is a story set in rural Jamaica, and explores the experiences of Nola Chambers- a black girl in a space where emphasis is placed on color, and the inner beauty she unveiled in her journey of self discovery. The creator of this enchanting tale set in Jamaica, Melanie, welcomed us into her home to share with us some of the spaces that allow her to feel a sense of ease, refuge, reinvigoration and solace. Spaces where she is inspired by themes from her childhood, and articles representing her journey with the loves of her life- her husband and three children.  Melanie started by expressing that there is not a single part of her home that she would consider her specific spaces for feeling her hum.  All the paintings, antique furniture, her farmer’s kitchen sink, country styled cupboards bearing traditional Jamaican jars are of great sentimental value- a value that energizes her every morning, and comforts her as she turns in at night. The conversation began at a bench under a tree in the front of her yard.  Perfectly nestled under a tree and cushioned by ferns and other plants. Schwapp expressed that as a child of Montego Bay, a childhood spiced with moments of venturing her grandparents’ property impacted the deepest fibre of her being- moments of her formative years which greatly helped to sculpt who she is today.  When looking for a home in Kingston, it was a wish to have her children experience that priceless amount of bliss and magic that comes with growing up in a yard with space and vegetation.  The bench was a bench she saved from being dumped- cleaned up, and painted it in what would appear to be a vibrant mix of dodger and duke blue. Melanie is quite the DIY kind of lady! It is now one of her favourite spots at home, where she is usually greeted by the soft kiss of the early- morning sun while drinking coffee.  Themes from her journey continued as we entered the house. Within moments of entering the warm living area, we were greeted by the magnificent “One Love Fish”- an amazing painting done by Jamaican artist, Laura Facey, the creator of the “Redemption Song” statue at Emancipation Park .  Menlanie explained that the painting was done with the intention of being hung at the Doctor’s Cave Beach Club, where she would have spent so many years of her life. Somehow, as if a conspiracy of destiny, the painting now hangs in her living room.  “My husband is a huge Bob Marley fan, and it was meant for Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay. It has the red, gold and green in the fish scales- it is just a wonderful mix of pieces of my husband and I…” explained Schwapp with a tender smile. She explained that right under that painting, in the couch is where she reads her Bible and does a lot of her introspection. We finally headed to the back patio and pool-side of her home. A very chill outdoor space with modern poolside furniture resting on smoothly finished dark wood floors.  This outdoor area is where she spends a lot of quality time with her family- lots of laughter, stories, games and glasses of wine. As a result of these deeply impactful moments, Melanie’s family, and to a greater degree, her children have greatly inspired her body of work.  Dew Angels would explain to her children the realities of the real world- a world where prejudices exist without valid human being to human being reason; while Lally-May’s Farm Suss, was inspired by the adventures that may begin as a result of the realities, myths and awakened imaginings of a child living in many rural Jamaican settings.
Throughout Melanie’s home- it is evident why her HÜM is so symphonic.
After exploring the HÜM of these two creatives, you may feel the need to assess your own spaces. What do you have in these spaces? Do they inspire you or do they keep you in a less than favourable state of mind? Are there things that would be great to add to your decor that would lead to greater inspiration, relaxation and rejuvenation? Or are you in need of a cleaner to remove some of your clutter?|P|

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