MA Jewellery & Related Products Class of 2018
School of Jewellery, Birmingham City University
“Jewellery captures and carries a myriad of ideas around social role, relationships, emotional connections; art jewellery pushes these variations and oscillations still further, stretching and testing ideas around identity. For the artists exhibiting here, these ideas are imbued with cultural resonances, often informed by the distances travelled – personally, as well as geographically – to join us here at the School. Yearning for the familiar has led some to search out materials that bear poetic traces of home – autumnal leaves, flawed concrete, reflective acrylic – whereas others have used their practice to prise open and probe the rupture in their lives created by the migrations that they have made. They have been taking soundings, contemplating jewellery’s capacity to carry narrative, to communicate their ideas and challenge thinking; they have questioned the meanings that can be hinted at, the role of the body, the value of materials and they have critiqued its potential as accessory.
And yet, amongst all this variation and divergence, can we see evidence of a central value around which jewellery oscillates?
Throughout, there is a focus on play, and the wear and use of jewellery. Having coaxed their works into life, the artists have followed the process through, exploring the role jewellery plays once it leaves the jeweller’s bench and makes its own way in the world. They celebrate the fact that, in use, jewellery becomes a vehicle to bring wearers and viewers together, sharing a moment of appreciation or fun. It is created to be worn, experienced and – above all – enjoyed.
The artists have been supported on their creative journeys by a staff team that includes some new faces. Rebecca Steiner joins the core group of Jivan Astfalck, Zoe Robertson, Bridie Lander – and I am privileged to lead the team. This year, we’ve also been joined by a prestigious international group of visiting lecturers: Denise Reytan, Nicolas Estrada, Nikki Pugh, Melody Vaughan and Amy Peace Buzzard. Denise Reytan, with us from Berlin, supported students to develop large-scale pieces, her Plastic Poem workshop culminating in a fashion shoot to document the work. Author and jeweller, Nicolas Estrada inspired the students with a workshop on creating an exhibition catalogue, and Melody Vaughan, Nikki Pugh and Amy Peace Buzzard have been encouraging the students to explore, critique, write and present their ideas. It is with great thanks to all of those who have contributed to the course, and congratulations to the artists exhibiting here, that I draw my words to a close and invite you to enjoy the work.”