Our reasons for decorating the body are wide-ranging and complex and the wearing of jewellery (shell beads) is the earliest recorded form of modern human behaviour, dating back over 100,000 years. Historically, people have expressed themselves through relatively superficial body adornment to extremely sophisticated symbols as a means of communicating the concept of position, rank, status, etc.
Contemporary studio jewellers continue to challenge perceived boundaries and use the artefact as a way of defining a personal response to social and cultural issues such as gender, relationships politics, and the environment. Similarly, silversmiths explore this interaction between fine metalworking and ideas, through the vehicle of the functional domestic object.
The Department embraces this diversity through informed debate and discussion. It encourages students to develop a personal approach to the research and development of lively design solutions together with a knowledge of traditional and cutting edge technology and skill acquisition.
Whether they intend to enter the broad based jewellery and silverware industries, pursue personal expression through the gallery market or continue in academia, students will develop their skills in a supportive and confident Department.
The Silversmithing and Jewellery programme aims to provide a broad, balanced programme covering aspects of body adornment and fine metalworking from the development of original design concepts through to the finely crafted finished work. The course embraces as broad an approach to silversmithing and jewellery as possible, from designing for the mainstream jewellery or silverware industries to the pursuit of very personal works intended for gallery exposure.
A strong emphasis is placed on the development of individual craft and design skills that increasingly allow each student the freedom to pursue and realise ideas in appropriate media. Consequently, we actively encourage exploration of a wide range of materials through project work. The course centres its basic technical studies, however, in the area of fine metalworking, providing students with the experience of working in gold and silver as well as other metals.
The staff of the department, as practising designer/makers/researchers, continually review new developments in the field, evaluate the place of silversmithing and jewellery in changing international cultural environments, and respond to technological advances in design and manufacture. The programme is supported by guest lectures, field trips, professional practice workshops, live projects, themed department exhibitions, and seminar/study groups.
Forum for Critical Inquiry
A element of the programme is delivered by the Forum for Critical Inquiry (FoCI) The Forum is an essential component of the programme. For most of the four years of undergraduate programmes in design and fine art, one day per week of the student timetable is allocated to the Forum. It is a cross-school and externally linked critical mass of diverse research expertise in broad-based critical studies for contemporary creative practices in design, art and architecture.
The range of teaching styles varies from traditional keynote lectures to interactive discussion groups and experiential learning. Courses are constructed in order to both underpin studio practice and to open out and extend the range of student research.
All students are required to attend lectures and discussion groups, to make oral presentations, to write essays and in the final year, to present a piece of personal research in the form of an Extended Essay (20% of the final degree mark) or a Dissertation (30% of the final degree mark).
Students requiring learning support are provided with additional teaching tailored to individual needs. Each student also has a departmental contact tutor who acts in an advisory and pastoral capacity in relation to progress in Forum for Critical Inquiry.