I knew I wanted to be a maker, but was also aware that the way I think and conceive ideas dips into the realm of fine art. I am interested in technological innovation and the Contemporary Design Crafts course allowed me to explore all those things. I chose HCA as I had previously studied there 15 years earlier, I was familiar with the college and the staff and knew it had all the facilities and support I needed. It is also a really nice environment to work in which was important to me as I was daunted by the thought of returning to education after many years of working in a completely different industry (scientific).
Before and during my studies I was self-employed doing various jobs (not creative), this work is ongoing and supports me whilst I am setting up my creative practice. I am an Artist / Jeweller making jewellery retail galleries. Alongside this I explore material, process, design and concepts which manifest in Art Jewellery, a very niche market aimed more at art galleries, the catwalk, exhibitions and building my artist profile.
It is early days for my business but after months of applying to various organisations I have just been awarded some funding which will really get the wheels turning, I have also just been accepted as a member of The Alloy Jewellers group which will be an invaluable resource to me on this new venture. I am really enjoying putting into practice everything I’ve learnt about being a creative practitioner, and the new freedom I have to explore since graduation. The best thing about my work is the creative tangents that lead you to end up with something you never could of imagined and people’s responses to this work.
What were the most important lessons you learned while studying at HCA?
*Don’t think about the final outcome. If you have the end before the start your work is likely to be under developed and lack originality
*Simply changing scale whilst developing ideas can really change a project’s direction
*Restrictions can actually be the making of a body of work, if you’re struggling to gain direction apply some restrictions e.g working with just two colours
*There is no right or wrong
*Don’t give a damn what people think about your work (there will always be someone who does not like what you do), you can only do this if you feel good about your work so maintain your integrity at all times
*How influential parts of your life are on your creative processes, I spent 15 years in the scientific industry prior to returning to study and that has completely moulded the way I think and work. It is part of me and my work which creates consistency and threads within my pieces which link them altogether. Recognise these thought processes and consistent inspirations and work with them – they are a big part of you.
What top 5 bits of advice would you give to students graduating this summer from HCA?
*Don’t be too hard on yourself approaching graduation, you need to make sure you don’t peak too soon. Doing exhibitions etc straight after graduation is really hard work, plus if you are planning on working for yourself, you really need to have some fuel left in the tank because that’s when the hard work really starts (don’t take that as a negative, this is the most liberating and rewarding bit).
*Stay out of the pub!! (Easy for me to say as a mature student)
*Network!! When you graduate you can feel a bit isolated. Luckily I had built a network of contacts and makers that I found invaluable in times where I felt a bit lost.
What did you enjoy about your time at HCA?
*I really enjoyed the environment, simply been in that building allowing my creativity to come back to me after years of suppressing it was enough in itself.
*Having a lovely open, light studio to work in with my own personal space and all the necessary resources within 100 metre radius
*Making friends for life
*Simply been surrounded by like-minded creative people and been able to have the kinds of artistic dialogue you crave
What is your favourite memory of being at HCA?
* Entering a competition in the second year felt like throwing myself to the wolves! I came second though, and overnight went from having no confidence in my work to being really confident. To win an award of that scale was a real game changer, and if I’d realised at the start how prestigious it was, I may have been too hesitant to enter. I’m so glad I did!
What have been your biggest achievements during your time at HCA, and since you left?
Firstly achieving a First degree classification, I said from the day I started back at college that I wouldn’t be happy with anything other than a first and that’s what I was going to get. So to actually see it on paper was a pretty good feeling.
I’m really proud of the 4 awards I have won, particularly the Bernard and Catherine Gay Award for Outstanding Creativity and my silver award for fashion-led conceptual jewellery at the Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council Awards, to have achieved all this before graduation has really boosted my confidence, built my profile, and made me hungry for more. I was selected for various exhibitions following my degree show and this gave me a good taste of how much work is involved and a lot of feedback about my work.
I have lectured at HCA and received really positive feedback, this is a big personal achievement for me as public speaking has never been my strength.
I have been given a substantial financial grant by The Elmley Foundation to help me start my business, this could not have been awarded if I had not built the profile and contacts that I have during and after graduation. To know a reputable organisation believes in you enough to give you that kind of help has confirmed to me that I must be doing something right.