We’d be delighted to welcome visitors to our School of Jewellery Graduate Show, as part of the Inspired festival hosted by Birmingham City University which runs from 12th – 17th June inclusive and is open from 9 am – 4 pm. On Saturday 17th we have an Open Day for the School as part of the Inspired festival from 10 am – 3pm
About the Inspired Festival
Inspired Festival, now into its fourth year, showcases the exceptional creative talent of the students who study at Birmingham City University.
The Festival will shine a spotlight on the artists, actors, designers, writers and musicians who are beginning their careers with us in the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media.
Inspired Festival will see us open our doors to the people of the city and the wider community. The Festival is a celebration of the wealth of creative talent being nurtured and developed in the region.
For more information visit bcu.ac.uk/inspired
Towards a Graduate Show by Dauvit Alexander and Andrew Howard, School of Jewellery
As May slips away, the energy and excitement mount within Birmingham’s famous School of Jewellery. Lathes are spinning, the last curls of engine turning leave spiral patterns glinting in the dim sunlight, claws bead over stones and the smell of fresh paint on the showcases fills the air. From early in the morning to late into the evening, the staff – especially our technical support staff – and students are working to prepare the annual graduate show and the 2017 show promises to be as spectacular and varied as ever, showcasing the talents of students on our wide variety of courses: HND Jewellery and Silversmithing, BA (Hons) Jewellery and Related Products, BA (Hons) Horology, BA (Hons) Jewellery and Silversmithing – Design For Industry and BSc (Hons) Gemmology and Jewellery Studies. Some 100 plus students will lay out the fruits of their labours for family, friends, peers and, most importantly, for the Jewellery Industry.
The School of Jewellery was founded in 1890 by Birmingham Jewellery and Silversmiths Association – which became the British Jewellers Association – beginning a connection with the local industry which we have valued and nurtured and which continues to this day. Many of the businesses in both the Jewellery Quarter and further afield sponsor our graduate prizes in areas as diverse as design innovation, wax-carving, gem-testing, practical clock-making and commercial jewellery production. In total, there will be over 30 prizes presented at our Industry Evening on 13th June – a private view for the Jewellery Industry. This will be the first graduate show to be presided over by our newly-appointed Head of School, Professor Stephen Bottomley – lately of Edinburgh College of Art – and he has taken the decision to invite as a guest speaker the international jewellery design consultant, Barbara Schmidt. The industry evening is always busy and buzzy and we set this up as an opportunity for our graduates to meet with potential employers, galleries, collectors and stockists and we are very proud of this particular focus on the connection with the jewellery industry: it is one of the unique aspects of the teaching at the School of Jewellery.
The courses we offer here all have a particular approach and focus and, of course, the students then determine their own direction within each course and we would love you to come and visit us during the week of the exhibition.
What can a visitor to the School of Jewellery graduate show expect to see?
This is our traditional, industry-focused course which aims to develop the classic hand-skills associated with the industry while preparing students to use new technologies, all within a business context. The work exhibited by HND students will include hand-made gem-set fine jewellery, large pieces of silversmithing, digitally-produced commercial work, serious, traditional, whimsical and all the rest through to diamond-set dental-grilles. Most of the work is primarily made in precious materials.
Some of our previous HND graduates who are now working in the industry include silversmith, Kevin Gray, Rebecca Sellors and Naomi Newton-Sherlock.
This is a unique, one-year top-up degree which allows our HND students to gain a BA. The main focus of students on this course is on computer-aided-design (CAD) skills. The DFI course allows freedom for the students to develop collections to use any materials they wish but high-tech predominates and this year features 3D sintered nylon, lathe turned and spun brass, fine stone-setting and gold as well as pieces made entirely by hand from digital designs. Students from this course regularly go on to work with CAD and design teams both locally and globally. The collections this year include handmade and laser-milled mokume-gane, extravagant knives, fine wedding jewellery and tiaras.
Previous Design For Industry graduates who are making their mark around the world include Jack Row, Katy Tromans and Becky Williams.
These students have completed a 3-year programme, exploring material, form and concept as related to contemporary jewellery and related objects. Here the students are free to work in an experimental way, using materials such as dye-sublimated aluminium, laser welded steel, moulded silicone and concrete, often alongside precious materials, to create contemporary collections which challenge what jewellery can be. The show this year features vessels, wearables, jewellery in all manner of materials and even rag-dolls and clothing. The course has recently changed name and will be BA (Hons) Jewellery and Objects from 2018 entry onwards.
Previous graduates form this course include Fei Liu, Alice Clarke, Ami Pepper and Farrah Al Dujaili.
This course is the only degree programme in Horology available anywhere in the world. The students have honed their skills in precision engineering and design, using lathes, mills and digital technology alongside unbelievably accurate hand-skills to create timepieces from tower clocks to wristwatches. Many of these students will also have completed the British Horological Institute exams as part of their studies. There will be a mixture of hand-made clocks, as well as restoration and repair projects in this part of the exhibition.
Some of our graduates are placed within the most prestigious and well-known brands such as Richard Mille, Swatch, Patek Phillipe and Roger Smith and Laura Turner is one of the curators of Horology at the British Museum.
Like Horology, this is the only degree-level programme in Gemmology anywhere in the world. Based in our custom-built laboratories in the Birmingham Assay Office, these students have studied diamond grading, mining, gem-testing, valuations, international business and more. Due to the very theoretical nature of this course, these students will be presenting photographs and videos of their work.
The Gemmology course has only been running for a very short time but already our graduates are working for Gemfields in Zambia, the new gem-testing arm of the Assay Office in Birmingham and one, Kyalo Kiilu, has even started his own sapphire mine in Kenya.
We have a wide range of part-time and evening classes and some of them will be exhibiting during this time. Many of the participants on these courses are retired masters, experts in their own right who keep their skills up-to-date at the School.
Once the show is over in Birmingham, selected students will take their work to the annual New Designers festival in London.
In addition to this undergraduate exhibition in June, our Graduate Certificate and MA programmes showcase graduating students at other times of the year. The Graduate Certificate programme is a six month intensive course which prepares students for the MA course. This year there are 15 students that will be graduating and they will showcase their achievements at Parkside ground floor gallery, from 24th – 28th July. This year the graduating students from the MA Jewellery and Related Product programme will be showcasing their works alongside the MA Fine Art students at the Birmingham School of Art. The private view will be on the 1st September and the show is open to the general public until 14th September.