Central Saint Martins Graduation Show

Colombe d’Humieres went to see the Graduation show of the Central Saint Martins in London. She selected a few graduates and asked them questions about their collections, the difficulties they were facing and their plans for the future.

by Colombe d'Humieres

Muhua Chen

Taking a Trip Down the Memory Lane

What is your collection based on?

 

 

This collection is based on toys I used to have as a child. Toys are precious to me as they signify childhood memories. My work is playful and interactive; simple mechanical structures generate movement to amuse the wearer.

 

Alexander Calder`s delicately balanced moving sculptures; Sigurd Bronger`s joyful and unexpected kinetic jewellery and Dukno Yoon’s suspended wings show the various structural forms with movements have been a great source of inspiration to me. The humour and inventiveness in their work are elements that I aspire to bring into my own work too.

 

A series of six handpieces evoke memories of my childhood. Feelings I have experienced as a child are embedded in each piece. Four pieces under the theme ‘Happiness’ recall a visit to an amusement park. I made four pieces such as Merry-go-round, Ferris wheel…

‘Loneliness’ is based on a musical jewellery box with a dancing ballerina. It was a gift from my parents, I treasure it a lot because I didn’t spend much time with my parents when I was little, but the box was there all the time. This feeling inspired me to create the Ballerina hand piece.’Sadness’ is another, a separate one that reflected the feeling that my parents over controlled me in my childhood and I didn’t have a lot of freedom like other children, it’s inspired by the puppet hand piece, the wearer can control the doll human’s behaviour as a puppet.

 

My attempt is to invite the audience to a world of play so they can recover their own childhood memories.

What process and techniques did you use?

 

I have chosen to use brass and acrylic; the strength and malleability of brass and the lightness and transparency of acrylic allowed me to create pieces that are both functional and visually pleasing. The acrylic not only frames the mechanical structures but also exposes them to give an insight into the process of making and finishing touches. Marks and rough edges are deliberately left as reminiscences of my own imperfect childhood.

 

Did you encounter any difficulties?

 

Yes, the biggest challenge of making this collection is the engineering works. I don’t have any background and knowledge about engineering; the only reason I could carry on with this work is because I have a special interest with moving structures. I am a big fan of collecting toys; playing with toys helps me to figure out the relationship between objects and human behavior. I had to separate lots of toys to understand the simple mechanical structures, and then apply this kind of system into my own pieces. I really enjoyed making this collection.

 

What are your plans?

 

After finishing this course, I would like to build my own studio in China, so I can continue with making kinetic jewellery. During this course I discovered that I was really interested in contemporary jewellery, I wish I could open a gallery to collect and introduce the contemporary jewellery to others in China.

Nathan Dickinson

What is your collection based on?

I have always found myself drawn to sculpture and sculptural jewellery, I prefer working on a large scale and with materials that hold a particularly transformative quality for example liquid to solid in the case of my graduate collection. My collection is inspired by and directly relates to the body, I am fascinated by the movement and fluid shapes that it holds and within this I have been exploring the idea of ‘jewelleryobject’ that is relational. By relational I mean that it is best understood by touch. Each piece is jewellery by definition. During the making process, as the plaster was setting, I aimed to create a collection that explored the relationship between object and the body. As the body is so central to the design of each piece concepts of gender also played a part in influencing the collection. As a guy working in a heavily female industry I did not just want to make men’s jewellery in retaliation but have tried to create pieces that imbue neither gender specifically, rather they insinuate the body in a vaguely fetishised way allowing for each person to interpret them as they want.

What process and techniques did you use?

I have always loved plaster and think that as a material it is so underrated. Often in jewellery heavy emphasis is placed on the quality and expense of the material used, however I wanted to utilise the chalky whiteness of plaster. Each piece is very tactile to allude to the classical sculptures of ancient Greece that I was first inspired by. I have been using condoms as a vessel for the liquid plaster to set in and then sculpting the raw set forms with files and different grades of sandpaper to achieve a smooth fluid finish, changing the shapes instinctively but not altering them too much that they no longer fit the body.

Do you design within a gender target?

My final collection has been an exploration of using the body as an integral tool/part of the jewellery making process, rather than considering it the end ‘pointofsitu’ so to speak. So by using my body as a mould to create jewellery around I’ve been trying to create objects that do not communicate gender but rather go beyond it and give the viewer/wearer a completely new sense of what genderless jewellery can be not just jewellery that is unisex but that is gender ambiguous. So no I don’t design with a gender target as I see each body as a valuable tool to create interesting shapes that body’s gender is not necessarily relevant.

How does gender influence your designs decisions?

In terms of this collection I have focused on neutralising stereotypical western gender norms or ideals which is why I have opted for white as a colour that doesn’t particularly indicate feminine or masculine, and am using myself (currently) in the images as a feminine male. The process is quite messy and visceral – much like the body – but the end result is an object that has transcended the body, and hopefully gender also.

What are you personal preconceived ideas about the differences between women’s and men’s jewellery?

I think the biggest difference between the two is the use of gemstones (in traditional jewellery). In contemporary jewellery I would say there is much more gender neutral or unisex jewellery.

Francesco d'Auria

Francesco’s collection is based on his mother that has been working in the makeup industry for the past 40 years. She got sick five years ago and went through drastic changes, like stopping wearing makeup.

 

Did you encounter any difficulties?

 

 

I can count and list to you the things that went right from just the fingers of my hand, so not that many haha. I have encountered so many difficulties but I do blame myself for that as I really wanted to try and push myself this year by exploring materials and processes that I am unfamiliar with. I mean it is the third year, the year of risks, the year where you need to challenge yourself because you only have this one chance to show the public what you are made of.

 

There were some times when I really was on the verge of giving up, but it’s the difficult times during third year where you find yourself, where you tell yourself if you don’t pick yourself up and do it then no one will do it for you. Time flies really fast during third year so one has to move fast and run along with it.

 

 

The difficulties are there for you to learn, to make quick decisions and act!

What are your plans?

 

My plans, what are my plans? To become a princess, kidding! The plan is to carry on and don’t stop.

What would you bring further?

 

I am already working on a new pair of glasses, well two in fact. The response from the sunglasses have been so overwhelming, the public at the degree show just wouldn’t move away from them. The best part was when the six teenagers were squealing at the lipstick glasses as if they meet Beyonce backstage. That starstruck look on their faces that I thought was so funny yet adorable to watch, they even came back the following day!

I am also discussing production of the glasses that were on show with an eyewear manufacturer and patent the signature design.

Chloe Valorso

A Physical Journey Into a Metaphysical Dimension

Her final collection was based on creating her own narrative and belief system with the help of her alter ego ‘Bob’. Bob is her familiar: a supernatural entity that guides Chloe in her creativity. It incarnates the metaphor which permits her to challenge her perception of reality. Bob is to be understood as a chimerical concept, demonstrating the possibilities of union between different kinds of reality. She is creating her own mythology, playing with signs and symbols. ‘I feel like the member of a lost tribe’ she told me. She focused lots of her research on natural materials : African Blackwood, bone, mother of pearl, shells, but also snake vertebrae and vintage fur she inherited from her grandmother. She has always been a collector, from travels, to flea markets aiming to create her own ‘cluster’.

 

She carved various materials: bone, wood, wax… She works intuitively by combining contrasting materials together to define the fineline between real and unreal. She wanted to mix the techniques and processes according to her response with the material. ‘I create allies, amulets sometimes carving them from a piece of wood, sometimes forging them from a sheet of copper. Finally I played a lot with enamelling and patination colours to have an old strange aesthetic where you can’t tell when or where these uncanny artefacts come from.’

 

The difficulties came naturally. Indeed, some pieces appealed quite quickly to her, like for instance when she found the pearls she immediately thought of teeth to design a large uncanny smile.

 

‘It all started with my alter ego Bob. Now Bob is out in the world, I explore the notions of self and alter ego; my pieces are hybrids crossed between Bob and I. A sense of survival primitiveness is excavating within me as the raw qualities of materials take me back in time.’

Shiyun Chen

Skin Diseases

The starting point of her collection is skin diseases and how often they are regarded as disturbing and visually appalling. Its effects such as blisters and dead skin can alter not only the look and shape of our body but also how others perceive us.

 

By using a variety of precious and non precious materials, she has been imitating the colour and texture of skin diseases such as Lapus and Shingles.

 

She used materials like latex, chiffons, Swarovski crystal beads and glass beads. It is all hand-embroidered to make us think about the time it takes to grow on the skin. The rings are made out of diamonds, 18ct rose gold and authentic gemstones, and were made with CAD, casting and stone setting.

 

Shiyun is planning to work on her beading technique, and combining the materials with metal. She’s exploring other possibilities to make the pieces more reachable for the public, maybe by collaborating with fashion designers in the future.

Hussa Bandar

Female Bodybuilders

For Hussa, it started from some Youtube videos showing female bodybuilders’ performances. It started comically but the more she heard about the women, the more serious it got. The collection is really focused on the contrast of hard and soft, masculinity and femininity. These women look extremely strong on the outside but on the inside they are actually fragile, for instance they have to go down to only 3% body fat and they have lost their menstruation cycle.

 

Every material she used is related to the female bodybuilders and their relation to power. For instance, Hussa used a lot of powder coating, usually used in car paint but now in a baby pink. There are a lot of different plating in the pieces; chrome to relate to the very masculine hand weight, rose gold plating, and others are left plain with exposed rough copper which still shows the soldering. Other materials in the collection are chrome tanned leather, satin, silicon and suede.

A lot of time was spent in the hammering room to reach the organic muscular shapes of the pieces. Always going through that moment when you realise at the late stage that you have been too ambitious. Simplifying the shapes is actually a genuine and wise design decision. It is like those women that are struggling for perfection but are never exactly able to reach it.

 

Hussa is planning to make objects, and explore the relationship between space, movement and those ambiguous shapes. While she is helping menswear designers with hardware work, she is waiting to sell her work to someone that is going to treat it right.

Interviews by Colombe d’Humieres

 

www.arts.ac.uk/csm

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