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UWTSD’s Design Crafts Students Shine in ACJ Live Project

Design Crafts students from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Swansea College of Art have taken part in a live project with the Association for Contemporary Jewellery (ACJ), Mission Gallery Swansea, and The Crafts Council. The BA Design Crafts course saw Year 2 and 3 students respond to a brief set by ACJ to create a piece of jewellery in direct response to their touring exhibition ‘Meanings and Messages’ which showed at the end of last year in Mission Gallery.

Exciting Opportunity for Students to Work with Major Craft and Jewellery Bodies

Design Crafts staff and students were involved in the set-up of the show, leading to this exciting opportunity to be co-judged by The ACJ, Mission Gallery, and Crafts Council’s Stephanie Jong, who has recently moved on to join the team at The British Museum. The project was a chance for students to enhance their learning experience, build external links, and professional skills.

Broad Range of Responses Showcased the Creativity and Innovation of the Students

UWTSD’s BA Design Crafts Lecturer, Anna Lewis, stated, “The students loved the project, and we had a very broad range of responses in materials like glass, ceramic, metal, fabric, wood, resin, enamel, and shell. Students really pushed the interpretation of what jewellery actually could be both in value and material but also scale and its relationship to the body. As a team, we were so proud of all student responses and hard work, and grateful to our three external judges for their incredible support.”

Winner of the Overall Competition Chosen for Innovative Ceramic and Crystalline Rings

The winner of the overall competition was 3rd year Zach Dunlap, an experimental potter, for his ceramic and crystalline rings. Dunlap said, “I was so shocked and happy to win. Making jewellery was out of my comfort zone as I am focused on ceramics but I loved the challenge to make on a smaller scale and to consider how the pieces might be wearable. I wanted to challenge myself to innovate using glaze and crystal effects using waste hard drives. Using an obsolete waste material contrasted with porcelain, the rings are about the physical embodiment of memories and using them to adorn the body. These hard disks at one time would have undoubtedly contained countless holiday photos, porn, business data, sensitive details, communications between people, CV’s, videos, or music. The memory is now embedded in the jewellery.”

Runner-Up Honored for Innovative Material Experimentation

Runner up was Molly Ashton for her series of shell and glass body pieces. Judges reflected on her innovative material experimentation with shells and glass, creating beautiful form and shadow. They encompass the circle of life “vulnerability, permanence, layers, delicate and organic.” Ashton said, “This was an amazing project where I explored new materials and processes focusing on naturally found materials such as shells, these were a bi-product from a local fishmonger and otherwise would have been discarded. I wanted to celebrate the material, its natural beauty and its relationship with other materials like glass and elevate them into large scale body adornments.”

Collaboration with the BA Photography Department

A major part of the project was a collaboration with the BA photography department, where 3rd years Katie Davies and Simon Fudge shot the pieces being worn on the body. Students styled and even modeled the work and worked as a team to create amazing imagery. Lecturer Anna Lewis stated, “At Design Crafts, we teach the students that the presentation of the work is as important as the work itself and can make or break its perception. Jewellery needs to be seen on the body to make it come to life and enhance the story and symbolism. Some of the work crossed over into a fashion realm, and it was exciting to see this interpretation in such a contemporary publication, what an amazing addition to the portfolio of both students involved.”

Prizes and Recognition for the Winners

The winners of the competition received various prizes, including a feature in the ACJ findings magazine, a makers showcase at Mission Gallery Swansea, and an invaluable one-to-one mentoring meeting with the head of Craft business Caroline Jackman at the Crafts Council. Design Crafts would like to extend their thanks to all judges and collaborators, including Joanne Haywood, Rhian Wyn Stone, Stephanie Jong, and Caroline Jackman. Congratulations to all students taking part.


The ACJ aims to celebrate and highlight the innovative work carried out by jewellery artists at a National and International level. This competition challenged UWTSD’s Design Crafts students to explore what possibilities body adornment could have for their own practice and across media. The judges were impressed with the quality of entries from the students, and it was a very difficult decision to pick a winner. The work showcased the creativity and innovation of the students, and it was a great opportunity for them to build external links and professional skills. The project was an excellent addition to the BA Design Crafts course’s live projects in Year 2 and 3, enhancing the students’ learning experience.


David Brobst

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