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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

New Designers 2011 Part One: Jewellery Graduate Show Review

I do absolutely adore fine handmade jewellery... but there was SO much to choose from at New Designers... where to start? Watch out for Li-Chu Wu, Michelle Scicluna, Niti Khanna, Emma Louise Simmonds, Muireann Walshe and more.

Written by Amelia Gregory

New Designers review 2011-Michelle Scicluna Me Me Jewellery
Me Me Jewellery by Michelle Scicluna.

The jewellery section of New Designers also really brought home to me how important it is to see a university’s individual show where possible: when the work is crammed into such small stands it’s easy to miss the impact of an individual collection. I’ll be skipping those I’ve already covered in more detail: read about Central Saint Martins and Middlesex University in previous blogs (just click on the links).

New Designers review 2011-William Huynh
Having said everything above, I did discover one jeweller that I missed at the Middlesex University Free Range show: William Huynh presented a great domed crystal in a gold winged bangle.

New Designers review 2011-Muireann WalsheNew Designers review 2011-Muireann Walshe
Muireann Walshe from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin won the Future Makers award for her unique broaches, inspired by historical finds from Ireland’s ancient history. Her jewellery is an echo of the famous Tara Brooch discovered at county Meath in 1850 and much copied in design. Muireann Walshe incorporates contemporary colour and pattern partly inspired by the Memphis School of design. Instead of a pin, these brooches are attached with magnets. I liked the fact that they were vaguely 80s, and also unlike anything else in the show. I’m always attracted to those designers who go out on a limb and don’t just follow trends.

New Designers review 2011-Hayley LambNew Designers review 2011-Hayley Lamb
New Designers review 2011-Hayley Lamb
At Truro College Hayley Lamb embedded fabric in her bold rings.

Emma Louise Simmonds, UCA, SGJ, crystallise necklace
Emma Louise Simmonds, UCA, SGJ, Platinum Bursary
Emma Louise Simmonds, UCA, SGJ, Nucleation Bracelet
From UCA Rochester Emma Louise Simmonds held centre stage with her stunning gems. She has developed a special new technique that challenges the usual methods of holding gemstones; using laser welding technology she traps cubic zirconia within metal casing without damaging the crystals, there by taking full advantage of the shape and cut of the gemstones.

New Designers review 2011-Emma Louise Simmonds
She has recently won a Goldsmith’s Craft and Design Council Award as well as Graduate Rising Star 2011 and I was most impressed with the press pack she pressed into my hands. Follow Emma Louise Simmonds on Twitter. Highly unusual and clever.

New Designers review 2011-Jong Bin Kim
Also from UCA Rochester Jong Bin Kim showed curvy jewellery that echoed the shapes of underwater sealife.

New Designers review 2011-Lucy Seddon's Paper Memories
At Sheffield Hallam Lucy Seddon‘s Paper Memories took a more ecological approach: material was sourced from old newspapers, maps and envelopes.

New Designers review 2011-Bucks New University Niti KhannaNew Designers review 2011-Bucks New University Niti Khanna
Moving on to Bucks New University Niti Khanna was inspired by Indian architecture – the domed shapes created in modern forms out of metals and acrylic using CAD design. Super cool, I’d love some of this jewellery for myself. Niti has recently accepted a job as a jewellery consultant and plans to head back to India shortly, but I hope that she does continue to design herself as she’s got something special.

New Designers review 2011-Duncan of Jordanstone Jessica Ruth HowarthNew Designers review 2011-Duncan of Jordanstone Jessica Ruth Howarth
At Duncan of Jordanstone Jessica Ruth Howarth‘s friend demonstrated how to lift her jewellery out of bespoke enamelled mini sculptures. Very sweet and different. I love enamelling, but there was barely a whisper of it at this show. I can’t think why it is so out of favour – other than it is extremely hard to do well. I studied enamelling at my local adult education college for a year and became totally hooked – after all, what’s not to like? Plenty of colour, infinite possibilities for pattern…

New Designers review 2011-Michelle Scicluna Me Me JewelleryNew Designers review 2011-Michelle Scicluna Me Me Jewellery
Michelle Scicluna of Sir John Cass London Metropolitan University had run out of cards – always a good sign! I was told to check out their website, which was emblazoned across the stand and yet is curiously uninhabited, so not sure why they would advertise it so widely. Fortunately Michelle herself is more savvy. She has a website and she’s also on Twitter. Go check her out. The Dhana Collection is made up of reinforced paper and metal, with shapes inspired by many years spent living in the ashrams of Thailand and practicing Buddhism. Really quite special.

New Designers review 2011-One Year On Li-Chu Wu
One Year On Li-Chu Wu of Birmingham City University drew me in with her multiple layer papercut jewellery. Particularly loved this nature inspired piece in sultry yellow. Follow Li-Chu Wu on Twitter.

Overall there was an awful lot of wonderful jewellery to look at but it does make me wonder, and worry, how on earth all these graduates will make a living: jewellery is an amazing addition to any girl’s life (and some boy’s…) but jewellery is not a necessity as clothing is. Expensive pieces are bought only seldomly, which is just as well because precious jewellery is incredibly carbon intensive to produce as well as desperately in need of an ethical practice overhaul. Fairtrade gold will only go so far… but I really do hope that this new generation of designers will fly the flag for ethical practice as well as good craft practice.

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