Dezeen Magazine

University for the Creative Arts

University for the Creative Arts presents its 2021 graduate craft showcase

A jewellery project exploring the sensory experiences of a person with synesthesia and embroidery work that offers a new take on gender are included in Dezeen's latest school show by students at the University of the Creative Arts.

Also featured are hand-embroidered sculptures referencing a student's family home and a collection of garments depicting the abstract shapes found in cells, invisible to the naked eye.

University for the Creative Arts

School: University for the Creative Arts
Courses: BA (Hons) Textile Design, BA (Hons) Glass, Ceramics, Jewellery and Metalwork and BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery for Fashion, Interiors and Textile Art

School statement:

"The University for the Creative Arts (UCA) has a long and rich history of craft research and practice. The passion shown by its class of 2021 shines through in their works, exhibiting exceptional quality and innovation in ceramic and glass pieces, textiles, metalwork, plastics and jewellery.

"This community of makers combines and experiments with both time-honoured techniques and the latest technologies, indulging their passions for materials, form and texture with their desire to change perspectives.

"Drawing on the expertise and facilities across the university's campuses and the Royal School of Needlework, the results of their great collaborative practices and thought-provoking work can be seen in UCA's 2021 Graduation Show."

University for the Creative Arts

Untethered by Kate Courtney-Taylor

"Specialising in kiln-formed glass, this work explores the inherent properties of glass, focusing on how she can take its fluidity and freeze it in time. The piece explores Courtney-Taylor's memories. Often focused on trauma and its associated pain, these memories also result in beauty and strength.

"Inspired by the links between the grotesque and the sublime, Courtney-Taylor creates sculptures that explore her interchanging feelings of neglect, obsession, conflict and beauty.

"Glass flows between the sculptural elements, allowing Courtney-Taylor to create an environment to sculpt the piece whilst allowing the glass to perform the conclusion. Relinquishing the control means she always learns something from the process, and the result can never be recreated."

Student: Kate Courtney-Taylor
Course: BA (Hons) Glass, Ceramics, Jewellery and Metalwork

University for the Creative Arts

Cube Box Chain by Seongeun Kim

"Kim's work is inspired by abstract geometry with architecture and cubes featuring in much of her work. The square forms and geometric shapes can also be interpreted as her inner identity.

"Kim is interested in exploring why people wear jewellery on the body. In the past, jewellery was often a symbol of status, wealth and identity but was also worn as a talisman.

"Today, jewellery is more than just an ornament – it is as an expression of who you are, linked to the body, as well as many aspects of individuality and identity.

"Kim emphasises the identity of the wearer, visualising her inner identity and subjective emotions. Geometric shapes serve as a medium to visualise her hometown, background, experience, places and memory. The square forms create chains with unique and infinite connections."

Student: Seongeun Kim
BA (Hons) Glass, Ceramics, Jewellery and Metalwork

University for the Creative Arts

Beyond the Binary Wave by Millie Whitehead

"A 2021 graduate from The Royal School of Needlework and designer based in London, Millie Whitehead uses embroidery to create works that offer a new take on the crossover between male and female style to challenge dominant conceptions of gender.

"Whitehead's work reflects her belief that the fashion industry should abolish the idea of gender altogether. This change would make way for a more accepting, unrestricted creative platform, allowing everyone to express themselves fully without hindrance.

"Influenced by gender, fluidity and movement, 'Beyond the Binary Wave' is a combination of both traditionally male and female, a celebration of blurred lines between genders. Embroidery serves as the voice that speaks on behalf of the designer. Combining masculine tailoring with this creates a juxtaposition between these two crafts, both traditionally associated with differing genders.

"Whitehead aims to create collections that will give haute couture and high-end fashion significantly more meaning. She uses traditional techniques and translates these into non-traditional and contemporary contexts that reflect her personal beliefs and values."

Student: Millie Whitehead
BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery for Fashion, Interiors and Textile Art, Royal School of Needlework

University for the Creative Arts

The Preciousness of Life by Lucy Martin

"The Preciousness of Life is a meditation on nature's beauty and serenity married with a sense of nostalgia and family in a series of hand-embroidered sculptural objects. Inspired by Martin's garden at her family home, this personal project reflects the aspects of her life she holds most dear through the art of bespoke hand embroidery.

"The work comprises a series of glass terrariums, within which sit a series of hand-embroidered florals. The initial stages of the project began with sketches and paintings of the flowers around Martin's home and nearby gardens.

"The blooms selected for this piece were carefully curated to reflect the people most important in her life: sweet peas because she helped her dad plant them during the lockdown; bluebells such as those that line the woods opposite her nana's house; alstroemeria which is her mum's favourite flower.

"Created mainly using raised work and stumpwork hand embroidery techniques, The Preciousness of Life takes hand-rendered and digitally drawn florals and translates this into stitched artwork. Combining silk shading, goldwork and tambour beading techniques to create the surface design on the petals, each terrarium piece contains sculpted flowers stitched into a ground of hand-embroidered moss."

Student: Lucy Martin
BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery for Fashion, Interiors, Textile Art, Royal School of Needlework

University for the Creative Arts

Teal Gradient Layers by Jaime Dunlop

"Dunlop's graduate work explores the presence of a singular object and the power of the collective group. She works with clay because of the direct, hands-on approach it offers and allows herself to be led by the material and welcome this evolving practice.

"Attracted to the strength, tension and fragility of clay, Dunlop attempts to sensitively build layers from modest clay slabs before arriving at the final form. She intently produces multiples by exploring layers, with each unique component serving an essential function within the larger arrangement. The construction of these circular forms relies on the chemical changes enacted during the firing process.

"Dunlop brushes water between the layers and compresses each strip to one another until the entire form is connected. After slowly drying, the heat process transforms these once individual elements into a strong united structure. These forms hold a contemporary profile and result from a contest for control between maker and material. Jamie intends for her work to be shown collectively – their shared aesthetic connects each object as a cohesive group."

Student: Jaime Dunlop
BA (Hons) Glass, Ceramics, Jewellery, Metalwork, UCA
Instagram: @jai.valentine.ceramics

University for the Creative Arts

The Unseen by Felicity Billing

"Billing pushes the creative boundaries between embroidery, design and science. Her exploration into textured embroidery and material manipulation allows her to showcase cells and natural forms in a tactile way.

"The Unseen is a collection of three body-adornment garments inspired by abstract shapes found in human and plant cells, invisible to the naked eye. Microscopic lens imagery allows for a clear view of the cell structure.

"Importantly, Billing's work consists of tactile pieces, as a result of her use of textured embroideries such as French knots in crewelwork and bead embroidery combined with material manipulation to showcase these cells and natural forms.

"Connecting herself to the natural world means she approaches hand embroidery with technical precision in juxtaposition to the intuitiveness of human and plant cells. As a result, she produces heavily embellished abstract shapes that intertwine, translating initial marks into extraordinary embroidery for a collection of thought-provoking fashion and art-based garments."

Student: Felicity Billing
BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery for Fashion, Interiors and Textile Art, Royal School of Needlework

University for the Creative Arts

Odysseys of Grief by Rebecca Miriam Offredi

"Odysseys of Grief is a body of embroidered work firmly rooted in emotional memories. During this time, Offredi experienced an unexpected series of events that caused great personal upset, grief and loss. Her most successful work to date has been strongly rooted in emotional memories, both good and bad.

"There are three underlying and intertwining themes from which Odysseys of Grief is woven – Offredi's personal experience of loss and grief, the classical works of the Odyssey and the Iliad, and a trip around Europe.

"Depicted as a series of sculptural and heavily embroidered crowns and body adornments, the pieces from this collection represent three different stages of grief. Odysseys of Grief is ultimately a project based on hope that loss, grief and associated anxiety and depression, are not impossible or permanent. Her work aims to depict the destruction of loss and the rebuilding of something new and beautiful."

Student: Rebecca Miriam Offredi
Course: BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery for Fashion, Interiors and Textile Art, Royal School of Needlework

University for the Creative Arts

Synesthesia of Bipolar Disorder by Zhi Yi Li

"Yi Li started this research on the basis of the paintings she created whilst listing to music. Since she was a child, when she heard music, she always had a variety of lines, patterns and colour combinations in her mind.

"When she meets new friends, she will see colours. When she hears people's names, the taste of the name will appear in her mouth. For example, when she hears the name Edward, she tastes cherry syrup. When Yi Li thinks of her sister, Li Siayo, she smells light blue and lavender.

"She tastes milk chocolate, black tea and smells sandalwood when she thinks of her friend Hung Li Tzu. These are the sensory experiences that Yi Li encounters as a person with synesthesia.

"Her goal is to become a conceptual jewellery designer. She can't explain why she experiences these sensations. The only thing she can do is record it and visualise the information she gathers into forms to let other people experience them too."

Student: Zhi Yi Li
BA (Hons) Glass, Ceramics, Jewellery and Metalwork

University for the Creative Arts

Beauty in the Bugs by Bnita Vaghela

"During lockdown, Vaghela began to explore the outside world noticing details that she previously took for granted or went unnoticed, including the many bugs around her. The colouration and the vibrancy of bugs inspired her to explore the world of insects, mesmerised by their colours, textures and patterns. They also contribute so much to our environment, sustaining our ecosystems through pollination.

"Vaghela wanted to magnify their designs by using both methods of hand screen printing and digital prints to create her collection. She hopes that her project will change the creepy perception of bugs and make people feel less scared and disgusted by them.

"She was also inspired by her own African and Indian cultural background. Being surrounded by colourful textiles and ornaments at home made her want to celebrate who she is and where she comes from. Her main aim was to create a bold statement showcasing how extraordinary our environment is and to remind people to take the time to observe their surroundings and embrace them more."

Student: Bnita Vaghela
Course: BA (Hons) Textile Design
Instagram: @bnitavaghela_textiles

University for the Creative Arts

Painted Woven Hands by India Ashe

"For her final major project, Ashe explored the concepts of identity and memory, abstractly represented through the motif of hands. The desire to leave behind a handprint to show we were here is a "shared creative impulse that transcends time and culture," according to the Heard Museum, 2018.

"She used a wide variety of 'feminine' materials and techniques within the 'domestic arts' realm to acknowledge the history of women's forgotten role in using these crafts, as well as to reflect her experiences as a woman and feminist within the textile art community.

"Her research, in conjunction with her memories of hands, specifically her childhood abuse 'at the hands' of her mother, informed her choice of feminine materials and techniques to subvert the traditional notion of textiles as nurturing, practical objects made for the home and family.

"Her key visual influences were the Surrealist art movement and early human art, specifically cave painting, which captures the theme of memory and identity through a handprint immortalised on stone."

Student: India Ashe
BA (Hons) Textile Design

Partnership content

This school show is a partnership between Dezeen and the University for the Creative Arts. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.