Monday, June 19, 2017

It's Showtime!

It's that time of year again when the jewellery graduates gather up their work from the year and present it to the public. I'll start off with the show-stoppers from Horology.

Our BA Horology is the only degree course in Horology anywhere in the world and the results this year have been amazing.

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 39 - Simon Colston

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 38 - Simon Colston
Wall clock by Simon Colston.
The whole of the final year for these students is spent making a clock to their own plan and design. It can be a copy of an historic clock, a variant on something well-known. In this case, Simon has created a wall clock based on the mechanism from the clock in the Westminster Clock Tower (erroneously known as "Big Ben").

Ruth Dobie's clock is by far my favourite, taking the traditional idea of the clock as a miniature architectural form and fragmenting it. On first glance it is immediately obvious that it is a beautifully-made clock but further study shows that the forms are fragmented, that it is asymmetric. Although not installed at the time this photograph was taken, it contains a "Tellurium", a model of the solar system...

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 36 - Ruth Dobie
Tellurium Clock by Ruth Dobie.
Looking inside these clocks is no less fascinating:

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 41 - Thomas Wilkinson
Handmade mechanism by Thomas Wilkinson.
My own course, the HND Jewellery and Silversmithing contained the usual mix of large- and small-scale works and I especially like these vessels by Mike Mullaney:

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 56 - Mike Mullaney
Mike Mullaney.
Also in the impressive silverwares department are Vicky Faraone-Pirie and Daniel Bollard:

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 66 - Vicky Faraone-Pirie
Polygonal teapot by Vicky Faraone-Pirie.
School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 65 - Daniel Bollard
Space-age water jug by Daniel Bollard.
There was, of course, a lot of jewellery as well and we had some spectacular wax-carving this year:

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 72 - Bethany Brown
Pendant and object exploring the Caeserian Section, by Bethany Brown. The silver blanket covers the figure.
School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 73 - Bethany Brown
Underside of the pendant and object exploring the Caeserian Section, by Bethany Brown.
School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 82 - Ruth Hallows
Acrobatic pendants by Ruth Hallows.
Taking wax-carving in a very different direction is Ashley Lizamore, who has made some diamond-set gold dental grilles:

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 62 - Ashley Lizamore

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 61 - Ashley Lizamore

Of course, there is also some very impressive fine jewellery:

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 75 - Poppy Middleton
Fine Jewellery by Poppy Middleton.
School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 77 - Sarah Parry
Fine Jewellery by Sarah Parry.
School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 60 - Wingting Leung
Fine Jewellery by Wing Ting Leung.
I also particularly like the technological interventions some students have pursued:

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 56 - Andrew Cowley
Digitally-modelled tooth, set with pink sapphire, by Andrew Cowley.
School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 68 - Ophelia Stoker
Rings with digital engraving and rubies by Ophelia Stoker.
Which brings me neatly to the BA Jewellery Design for Industry (DFI) course. Most of these people have been on the HND last year and it has been interesting and exciting to watch how they have developed (see my blog for last year's show here).

For me, the most impressive work in the DFI show is that by Gil Hadden, who has made a series of knives:

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 42 - Gil Hadden

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 44 - Gil Hadden

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 43 - Gil Hadden

The range of materials and techniques in the DFI group is amazing, stretching from Fine Jewellery by Georgina Stanley:

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 51 - Georgie Stanley

Through impressive plique-a-jour enamels by Mahroz Mirzahekmati:

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 46 - Mahroz Mirzahekmati

3D printed nylon and silver by Timon Tio:

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 47 - Timon Tio

As well as some quite remarkable mokume-gane by Yi Feng:

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 51 - Yi Feng

Which leaves the behemoth of the BA Jewellery Design and Related Products with their more experimental approaches to design and materials. I'll start off with my favourite work from the show, that of Lois Wiseman:

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 18 - Lois Wiseman

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 19 - Lois Wiseman

I've commissioned a brooch from Lois and would love one of the pendants. Her use of colour and form is so fresh and once you know that it is all derived from the lobster-pots in her seaside home, the narrative is delightful.

There was quite a number of very interesting "issues driven" presentations, including these hilarious and thoughtful takes on the issues facing people with OCDs:

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 27 - Jinzi Yang
Work by Jinzi Yang.
School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 28 - Jinzi Yang
Work by Jinzi Yang.
Ching-Ye Fang chose to tackle issues around food-waste and made "gemstones" which contain decomposing food waste and which will, presumably, change as they are worn. I love that these are so simply set:

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 24 - Ching-Ye Fang

Freya Gilgrist chose to tackle the mental health issues arising from domestic violence in a challenging collection made from metal and jesmonite:

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 22 - Freya Gilgrist

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 21 - Freya Gilgrist

I was intrigued by these beautifully made pieces by Xinyao Huang which deliberately challenge the boundary between "jewellery" and "object": they are all wearable, but some only just so.

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 10 - Xinyao Huang

Danielle Laurent's collection references not only historic jewellery but historic processes, bringing them into the 21st Century with digital production and flocking!

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 32 - Danielle Laurent

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 31 - Danielle Laurent

There was only one silversmith this year, Joseph Westley, with his beautiful, layered vessels:

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 3 - Joseph Westley

The private view - our "Industry Night" was launched by Barbara Schmidt and was, as always, incredibly busy.

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 89
Barbara Schmidt
School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 88

This is also a night when the students are presented with their prizes, many of which are sponsored by the jewellery industry.

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 92
Stephen Bottomley, Head of School with Barbara Schmidt, presenting a prize to Wing Ting Leung.
On Saturday, we had the second "private view", this one a much more relaxed affair and aimed not at the industry but at the friends and families of the graduates. It was so relaxed that here is a photograph of our Head of School, Stephen, and our Deputy Head of School, Jeremy Hobbins, staffing the bar!

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 94

Our students also took the opportunity to thank Jo, Kate and me for our input over the year, which is lovely.

School of Jewellery - Graduate Show 2017 - 96
Kate Thorley receiving some flowers from our HND Graduates, presented by Sarah Parry. 
Almost all over for another year (New Designers next).

In the middle of the week, we had a fantastic interlude to go and help celebrate the opening of the new bakery/cafe/rooftop urban farm/social enterprise that is "The Hive" in the Jewellery Quarter, run by the Ruskin Mill Trust. We'd already been alerted to the top-notch food that was being prepared in The Hive and it has become a kind of de-facto canteen for the staff at the School of Jewellery but none of us had quite realised that there was a market garden on the roof!

The Hive/Argent Works - Launch Day - 4

The Hive/Argent Works - Launch Day - 3

This place is amazing. Not only is it a proper educational college for people with learning difficulties, but this is a biodynamic, organic garden and the food is all prepared from the garden by the students. This is the training kitchen:

The Hive/Argent Works - Launch Day - 2

The cafe itself is lovely.

The Hive/Argent Works - Launch Day - 1
Speeches in the cafe before the launch proper.
And the food is WAY better than anything else on offer in the Jewellery Quarter. We particularly liked the scones with cream and jam:

The Hive/Argent Works - Launch Day - 9

I hope this place goes from strength to strength.

Friday night, I was off to hear Anna von Hauswolff at the Town Hall, playing the legendary Town Hall organ as part of the Supersonic Festival. Her music lies somewhere between Julee Cruise/Badalamenti, Diamanda Galas and Mogwai, but played on a pipe organ, supported by a fairly standard rock lineup of guitar, drums and synthesisers, creating music which manages to be both dark and uplifting.

Anna Von Hauswolff - 2

The set was all too brief - around an hour - and it was annoying that we had been forced to endure an onanistic Oud solo by the curator of the festival for about 40 minutes beforehand, a heap of tedious noodling which went precisely nowhere. Another 40 minutes of Ms von Hauswolff would have been much preferred.

Have a listen to the unbelievable sound she creates here:

The rest of the weekend was spent in the garden, harvesting artichokes, tending the basil crop in the greenhouse (yes, you can have too much basil, as I found out last year and seem to have made the same mistake again!) and planting out my odd Italian salad vegetables, Stridolo and Rampions. I'm also very excited about the prickly pear seeds which I took from a fruit I bought at the market here and which have started to sprout:

Garden Macro - Opuntia ficus-indica Seedlings

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Primitivism and Power

Make no mistake, I am furious with the disgusting power-obsessed homunculus who occupies the tenuous and devalued position of "Prime Minister" in the UK after last Thursday's general election.

Theresa May is a puppet of the heaps of billionaire ordure who control the media in this tinpot island and she is also so spectacularly lacking in empathy and so desperate to stay in power - despite a resounding trouncing in the election - that she is prepared to do deals with a group - the Democratic Unionist Party  (DUP) - who are not only supporters of terrorists but misogynists, homophobes, young-earth creationists and climate-change deniers. You don't have to be cognisant with the sorry history of Northern Ireland to know that the entrenched mediaeval positions of knuckle-dragging meatheads (on both sides) was entirely to blame for what was, in fact, a war, no matter how the British government pretended otherwise. While the other parties looked back at their mistakes and moved themselves forward into the 21st Century, the DUP remained firmly in the dark ages: their ten MPs have openly declared such manifest nonsense as equating homosexuality with child-abuse, that the earth is no more than 4000 years old, that creationism should be taught in schools, that women have no right to choose, that the death penalty should be restored and that small towns in Northern Ireland should be "Libya-type airstrikes" to eradicate their Catholic populations. These are the people who now comprise the power-balance in the British government.

It makes Trump seem like a moderate.

Read more about the DUP here and about a much more interesting international plot involving them here.

On the subject of Trump, one of our Visual Communications students at the University has this spectacularly damning image in her graduate show:

Credit for perfectly capturing the onanistic ego of President Trump goes to Bella Jackson Moss.

Last week saw "The Meaning of Making" at Birmingham University, an absolutely excellent event which suffered - if you can believe this - from being too short!

The Meaning of Making
Left to Right, Simon Topman - Acme Whistles; Kelly Sidgwick - Good Chemistry Brewing; Chris Holden - Ajoto; Emma Bridgwater - Emma Bridgwater Ceramics; Dr. Scott Taylor of the University of Birmigham.

The lineup included makers from all over the midlands, all of whom had one thing in common: a passion for making product and a belief in the importance of making that product well. It was fascinating to hear the divergent opinions - Emma Bridgewater's laisser-faire approach to copyright theft, compared to Simon Topman's, for example - as well as the areas on which they all agreed. The event ran for a couple of hours but would have easily stretched to a whole day and I'm delighted to report that it was packed.

Acme Whistles - 1

Dinner afterwards was a fiery, political affair, this being held the day before the election!

Yesterday saw the hectic culmination of a project involving the School of Jewellery, Craftspace and the women's craft collective Shelanu. The University decided some time ago that the would launch our graduate shows week with a big exhibition event which would be open to the public. The School of Jewellery was asked to contribute and I worked up a project involving teaching the craft collective members a new skill which they would then disseminate through the workshop at the open day. What a success!

Inspired Festival - 1

We made several hundred pendants in the course of the day. Above, you can see my School of Jewellery Student Ambassador, Mahroz Mirzahekmati helping out. The Shelanu women were amazing, and I found myself mostly just wandering about handing out materials to people and trying to keep the punches in order!

Inspired Festival - 2

Today should have been the day I went to the Bearwood Street Festival but I've been so busy that I fell asleep after lunch and didn't wake up until it was over...