Wednesday, May 21, 2014

DJCAD 2014 - The Degree Shows Begin...

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Outside

Yesterday I had the pleasure of going to my favourite Scottish city - Dundee - to see the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD for short) degree show. As usual, my main interest was in the jewellery and, as usual, it is well worth a visit.

I like the DJCAD show very much as it is much more diverse than the shows at the other Scottish art schools and there is less of a "house style", though that phrase perhaps makes it sound as if there is no diversity at all at the others, which is emphatically not what I mean.

What follows is a tour around the show in exactly the order that I visited each stand, kicking off with Angelia Santangeli who has turned her passion for cakes and baking into jewellery based on cake slices, cutters and the like:

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 1

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 2

It is always interesting to see where jewellers go when they decide that they are going to explore other areas and I thought that this little series of measuring spoons were great.

I loved the precision of Emma Thorogood's 60s-tinged hexagons in sheets of solid colour:

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 4

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 5

All the work is hand-constructed from scored and folded sheet and the control and accuracy are most impressive.

It is nice to see someone engaging with that interminable jewellery practice of "this was my grandmother's ring... it has sentimental value... can you melt it down and make something out of it..." and Sheila Roussel does this rather brilliantly by repurposing the work as part of another work without making significant material changes to the piece:

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 6

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 7

This work is really interesting and I was surprised to find myself more interested in it after I had looked at it, wandered round the rest of the show and come back... there is something quietly compelling about both the pieces and the underlying practice and philosophy.

DJCAD is well-known for the enthusiasm with which they embrace cross-disciplinary practices and new technologies and Beth Spowart has made a collection utilising plastics which respond to environment:

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 9

These smart materials which change depending on the conditions in which the piece is worn: some change colour in temperature, some in UV light. I love her combination of super-precise and rough-hewn.

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 8

Susan McLeod had an installation-type show with ceramics, enamels and a variety of forms. The use of colour and form made this all hang together very pleasingly. I particularly love the plant forms in the pot!

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 11

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 10

I think that I managed to be rather rude about Michelle Ho's work without meaning to. Let me just say here and now that her work is lovely and when I said that it was reminiscent of the work of Stephen Bottomley, I was emphatically NOT suggesting that it was any the less for it. Fortunately, Teena Ramsay, the main tutor on the course, was present to spring to her defence.

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 12

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 13

Wing Chan made some elegant work using ideas about "Lucky red thread" which is a deeply-rooted part of Chinese culture:

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 14

Some of my favourite work in the whole show was this series of rings by Sayoko Kobayashi, entirely made from found materials, recycled:

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 15

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 16

The brooch has an honesty and bravery that is hard to match and I was told that she even grinds up scrap glass to make enamels!

There is always one exhibit - at least - at degree shows where I end up talking so much to the exhibitor that I fail to take enough photographs. I've spoken to Grant D Herron before and we've interacted on social media for a while now, so it was good to actually have the chance to speak to him properly. His installation of cobbled-together machines is all based on those terrible TV adverts for products you could never really need...

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 17

There is something of the Tim Hunkin and Wilf Lunn about his work which appeals greatly.

Rosie Kimber makes very fine constructions which are somewhat hard to describe. They are based on crystals and crystal structures but as if that were not enough, she then encourages crystals to actually grow on the pieces:

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 19

I was very taken with this intricately-hinged neckpiece which has sugar crystals growing on it...

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 18

Katie Petrie makes subtle and lovely work based on laboratory bacterial and fungal growths, rendered in enamels:

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 20

Another very appealing idea came from Kirstie Snowden, who makes lockets which are obviously hand-fabricated:

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 22

But which contain an interesting twist...

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 23

Containing digital picture frames in  which the image changes.

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 21

The juxtaposition of the hand-fabrication with completely modern technology is unexpected and I hope she takes this further.

One of the things that I've found really interesting over the last few years is the way in which students from the "far east" respond to the challenges and opportunities of the western art-school tradition. Very often - perhaps more often than not - they return, at least on a superficial level, to their cultural background, seeking new ways to work with that and Jiayan Li is no exception with these exquisite calligraphy-inspired enamel pieces:

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 24

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 25

So there have to be favourites. Here are my two favourite pieces from the whole show... Catherine Ritchie's cute kinetic wildlife brooches. I have no more to say: they speak for themselves.

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 26

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 27

There are always lots of interesting materials being used in the DJCAD show and there seems to be a connection between the jewellers and the ceramicists, which is interesting to me given the way in which I have worked with ceramicist, Lisa Stevens, over the years. Alana Peden has made some very interesting pieces using ceramics to make replicas of medical aparatus - or sections of - and combining them with bandage materials and jewellery materials:

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 28

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 29

(DJCAD show always has lots of samples and test-pieces and it never feels like "filling space" as it can do in some degree shows; much appreciated by me, at least.)

I confess to not quite getting the background to Chloe Henderson's "Lexicon Creatures", appealing though the objects are in themselves:

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 30

I couldn't quite decide the relationship between these objects and the narratives with which they are associated.

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 31

One of the most thorough and interesting presentations was Rebecca E Smith's work based on finding a series of love-letters from her grandfather to her grandmother. The pieces play with nostalgia and romance without ever becoming mawkish; they are a tribute to her grandparents which never stray into the realms of the sombre; a wonderful memorial.

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 32

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 33

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 34

Morag Eagleson's work is somewhat hard to categorise. It is "jewellery" scale and some of the materials are traditional jewellery materials but it is not jewellery. She seeks to make us reflect on the landscape of Scotland and her thoughtful little landscapes-in-a-box certainly do that:

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 36

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 37

I was quite taken with the work of Cathy Wang who somehow manages to make minimal sensual... there is an odd quality to her work which manages to be both, drawing the viewer to engage with the work on a very physical, tactile level. Not an easy thing to do.

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 38

She'll go far. She already has great branding!

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 39

Last but not least was Rebecca Sarah Black, who uses bone to create worn, inviting pieces which feel beautiful and which compel the wearer to play with them, exploring the textures of the surfaces:

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 40

DJCAD Degree Show 2014 - Jewellery - 41

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening at the other parts of the show.

Particularly taken with an animation by Gary Welsh and others, called "The Divided" which would not have been out-of-place as a short before a Pixar movie. You can see part of an early version here:

but I do recommend seeing the whole thing if you can find it anywhere.

I've been working on the collar today and finally finished the construction of the main collar part. Just have to finish the pendant now.

20000 Leagues Under The Seas - WIP - 40

20000 Leagues Under The Seas - WIP - 41

Sunday, May 18, 2014


16 - Jewellery Exhibition - 1

It is getting on for the season of Degree Shows in Scotland again and it was with some interest that I went along to the exhibtion at "The Lighthouse" in Glasgow entitled, "16". This exhibition showcases the work of 16 of the people who graduated last year from Dundee's Duncan of Jordanstone, Glasgow School of Art and Edinburgh College of Art - these links are to my reviews of the shows last year. It was great to see the work of some of these people as it moves on, especially those I really admired in last years' shows - Sally Morrison, Emelie Westerlund, Anais Paulard, Rhona McCallum and Hamish Dobbie especially.

16 - Jewellery Exhibition - 5

16 - Jewellery Exhibition - 9

16 - Jewellery Exhibition - 11

Of particular interest this time around were the amazing enamelled bowls of Elizabeth Campbell:

16 - Jewellery Exhibition - 4

And you may recall my enthusiasm for the concrete work of Sally Morrison:

ECA  Degree Show - Sally Morrison - 1

Her more recent work in aluminium and leather is still interesting but I have to confess thrills me less. It may be that I have to see more of the work in this medium to understand it but I feel that while these are still striking pieces, some of the drama of the concrete work has gone:

16 - Jewellery Exhibition - 10

It was great to meet up with Sally, Rhona and Emelie and I am hoping that we can finally kick-start the ACJ Glasgow group into action, especially as the new studios at The Briggait are now filling up fast with contemporary jewellers.

I also got to chat to the ever-fascinating Elizabeth Moynard whom I see only on the occasions of contemporary jewellery events and to whom I am eternally grateful for suggesting a topic for a lecture I've been invited to give at the Society Of Jewellery Historians in 2015.

The DJCAD Degree Show 2014 opened on Friday night and I couldn't go. I'm hoping to go on Tuesday afternoon and cover it later in the week on this blog.

I've been working wholly on the "20000 Leagues Under the Seas" project over the last week and have managed to complete a good deal of the elements, including setting and finishing the central element of the pendant which hangs from the collar:

20000 Leagues Under The Seas - WIP - 29

The body of the squid is made from opalised fossil squid body - really! It is described in the book, "It swam crossways in the direction of the Nautilus with great speed, watching us with its enormous staring green eyes. Its eight arms, or rather feet, fixed to its head, that have given the name of cephalopod to these animals, were twice as long as its body, and were twisted like the furies' hair" and I have combined this description with the beast in the James Mason film to create the one here, departing from zoological accuracy by giving it Verne's "eight arms" rather than the correct ten (which would have driven Carol, who carved the wax, to distraction!). The eyes are jade with tsavorite garnets set over and the Nautilus has peridot portholes and a garnet-set propellor.

I managed to set all the silver "seaweed" elements which link the steel "barnacle" elements:

20000 Leagues Under The Seas - WIP - 32

These are set with chrysoprase, two colours of chalcedony, diamonds, tsavorites, aquamarine, and tourmaline. I can't finish the construction of the collar properly until Shapeways send the replacement barnacle link which should be with me tomorrow (it failed to print correctly, for some reason). The collar is mostly complete:

20000 Leagues Under The Seas - WIP - 36

The missing link should sit in the top right of the piece.
I've also created the rear pendant element which will be a decoration on the safety-chain on the catch. Made from one of Lisa Steven's "faux corals" - glazed porcelain - silver and a blue zircon, this reflects Verne's description of this comes from the cutlery used by the narrator, "Each utensil, spoon, fork, knife, plate, had a letter engraved on it, with, a motto above it, of which this is an exact facsimile:
The letter N was no doubt the initial of the name of the strange person, who commanded at the bottom of the seas."

20000 Leagues Under The Seas - WIP - 35

This is the first time I have created this type of lettering digitally, only because at this scale it would have been too time-consuming to use my usual technique of cutting it out and carving it with gravers. It works well and is readable but I do prefer the manually-made lettering.

These corals were a departure for Lisa who normally works in white, unglazed porcelains but I wanted these to look like the mediaeval corals which were so popular in cabinets of curiosities. I'm really pleased with these and delighted that I have eight or so others similar left over to use on other projects.

As I've mentioned already, I am making this collar for "Handmade By Machines", an exhibition and symposium - at which I am one of the speakers - at The Lighthouse in Glasgow. The theme of my talk is "Integrating Digital And Traditional Techniques" and will focus on the importance of viewing digital technologies as part of a continuum of techniques available to jewellers. If you are planning on coming to the symposium, you need to book this through the "Eventbrite" website, though it is free to attend.