For the second year running the Jewellery and Metal Design Degree Show takes place in the department’s spacious and luminous south-facing studio. Entering like a kid in a sweet shop, everything captivates, this being after all the outcome of three years of intensive learning and discovery.
This year’s exhibition, in general, shows a great strength in its selection of mixed media and alternative materials. Katie Brown’s interest in human cells makes us examine the unseen side of our bodies. These bold and colourful silicone pieces are not only a visual joy but are also interactive when touched. Brown incorporates thermo-chromic pigment in her silicone, allowing the material to change colour in reaction to body temperature. This gives the work great depth, creating a strong connection between the story of her pieces and the wearer.
Silicone can be used in many ways. In Hayley Brooks’ work, the substance captures patterns previously laser-engraved into wooden sheets, ultimately creating very tactile jewellery elements. Brooks’ process is carefully-considered, transforming her inspiration into a highly wearable yet incredibly innovative collection. Starting with photos and found objects sourced from the Scottish landscape, she transfers these details onto silicone sheets and anodised aluminium, which is then enhanced with fine touches of silver and gemstones. Brooks has found the perfect tension between her materials in a striking collection.
Next to this show, Christina Vernon displays an enjoyable selection of pieces, from statementnecklaces to more wearable items such as elegant earrings and rings, all inspired by her hometown Arbroath’s harbour. Her exquisitely detailed drawings translate perfectly into beautiful jewellery.
Also taking inspiration from the sea, Jenna Watson’s pieces speak of the unfolding nature of time; the difference in time between handcrafting artefacts and software processed pieces and the time it takes for shells to grow and evolve is contrasted with our rapidly-paced Western society and its breakneck speed of production. The work she presents bridges the gap between antipodal methods of creation… from traditional chased and repoussé spoons to elaborate 3D printed porcelain bowls. Each piece is celebrated in having its own quality and character.
Combining handmade techniques and software processes, Beth Henderson presents some astonishingly well-made vessels influenced by the weather conditions of her home county, Caithness. Henderson’s pieces traverse many disciplines, even integrating glass blowing to create one of her stunning pieces – a blue-green flask depicting the movements of wind and clouds.
Bringing the viewer back to the human-made environment, Lucy McManus is interested in urban decay and degeneration. Her brutalist creations show intriguing contrasts and paradoxes, finding grace in what at first sight could be considered uninteresting or even ugly. Her collection is made of dazzling antithetical concepts; rough surfaces combining concrete, molten aluminium and found elements which play with our senses and perceptions, inviting us to reconsider our idea of “beauty”.
Rachel Glen and April Black’s work also intrigues. Glen incorporates silver details into her collection of spectacular finger-knitted neckpieces, whilst Black skilfully blends copper and silver granulation into her exquisite hand-turned wooden bowls, adding a tactile nature to her objects.
Separating out specific work to write about here is challenging. There is an extraordinary range of concept, media and execution, and each exhibition showcases an array of unique qualities. This cohort however is unified in how it thrives through already-evident professionalism and a driving passion to push the boundaries of their chosen materials. This show is exceptional in its qualities, and should on no account be missed.