290°: DJCAD Degree Show 2013
18 May 2013 - 26 May 2013
The seventeen students exhibiting in this year’s Jewellery and Metal Design Degree Show offer a diverse range of approaches to their subject, teamed with an exciting and innovative approach to exhibiting.
Fans of traditional metalwork and jewellery will not be disappointed. Kirsten Manzi has produced a strong and elegant collection, based around the ephemera she collected whilst in New York; I suspect this will appeal greatly to many. Megan McGinley’s silver neckpieces and brooches, by contrast, feature unusual ways of setting found objects previously gathered on Scottish beaches. This is also a particularly beautiful collection. A recreation of her jeweller’s bench offers the viewer a romantic glimpse into the making process.
The most notable feature of this year’s show however, is the breadth of unusual materials used and the exploration of critical, yet playful approaches to making. Amongst the finely crafted silver jewellery (that Dundee graduates are already known for doing so beautifully), the visitor may be surprised by the appearance of chocolate, balloons and even egg membranes!
Some more highlights of this dynamic show include Beth Lamont’s stunning porcelain hot air balloons with their delicate silver detailing. These pieces combine accomplished handling of both ceramics and metal, fused with an implied lightness that just promises to carry off some enchanted observer. The balloons seem headed for a comfortable place, and they provide a merciful small moment of quiet dreaminess amidst the hullaballoo of Degree Show time. It is also encouraging to see the kilns which have been left over from DJCAD’s now defunct Ceramics course being put to good use here. This is particuarly so as very few universities now offer training in that discipline.
From our place above the clouds, we dive under the sea, to encounter strong and unusual work from Zoe Davidson. Creeping over the walls, andaround a fish tank are sculptural latex and copper body pieces which are inspired by underwater worlds, and particularly by anemones. These ambitious objects have an otherworldly, sinister, indeed alien quality. This is further enhanced by the powerful use of the accompanying stop-motion films.
Another notable presence here is the work of a designer who is courageous enough to examine where the value of contemporary jewellery really lies. Jewellery, of course, exists in a market where the skills needed to make traditional jewellery are becoming undervalued. Through scale and material Kirsty Nicholson plays with our expectations; oversized earrings become double rings and her huge necklace, replete with white chocolate “pearls” and an oversized gem-encrusted clasp, is simply a must-see. The wall of plastic rings with their hard candy “gems” invites the visitor to “pay what you think it’s worth” … a simple, yet challenging way to engage people in some of those questions of value.
The standout work, for me, however, comes from Anais Paulard who has produced an exquisitely crafted show which explores our emotions, showing also how jewellery can be used to communicate and create connections. Traces of her jewellery are designed to be left on the wearer;her neckpiece “Mourning Fades, Memories Stay” will leave smudges of charcoal, whereas “Will you Happy Me” is a series of rings which are meant to stain the palm with colourful pigment. If I were to pick my ultimate piece in this my favourite exhibit, it would have to be her humourous brooch – “Won’t Hug Me Twice”. Brilliantly, when the wearer hugs someone, a balloon is burst by neon pink teeth, marking them both with colourful pigment. That’s quite a finale to any show!