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Posted 09.06.16

Graduate Q&A: Interactive jewellery with Fern Robinson

By Sarah Packer

Fern Robinson with Principal, Professor Andrew Brewerton at last year's Graduate Shows accepting her Victoria Stewart Jewellery award.

With 2016’s Graduate Shows open 11-24 June (see our event page for opening times), our graduating BA (Hons) students proudly present their final major projects – the culmination of years spent studying, experimenting, growing and making with us.

We sat down with one of those students, Fern Robinson to talk interactive jewellery, experimentation and her plans to become an independent designer-maker...

Hi Fern, so tell us about your work in the Graduate Shows.

Childlike interaction inspired my 'PLAY' collection, my concept was to invite the wearer to take an active role in the pieces, believing that tactile engagement creates a stronger connection between user and object.

As the simple action of touch is driven less by intellect than the other senses, I am trying to play instead on emotional connection, drawing on a sense of primitive naivety that is still present at any age and hopefully creating a moment of joy and intrigue.

'PLAY' by Fern Robinson, BA (Hons) Jewellery and Silversmithing.

The designs have a post-modern aesthetic with vibrant colour and geometric form, screaming out for fun engagement. There are various opportunities for interaction from drawing with crayon to weaving through a maze.

How has it been studying here at the college?

Amazing! The facilities here are incredible, particularly in the craft department. The staff here are also all practicing artists successful in their field and share so much of their knowledge with us.

"The designs have a post-modern aesthetic with vibrant colour and geometric form, screaming out for fun engagement." 

I chose to study here because of the close-knit community, and the support provided by tutors to every student across the college.

I have had some great opportunities as well, like exhibiting at the Contemporary Craft Festival, seeing the Schmuck show in Munich and curating an exhibition with the Crafts Council Collection – to name a few.

What are your plans when you graduate?

My initial plan is to become an independent maker, an innovative contemporary jeweller and possibly extending my work to include furniture and product design. 

My passion lies in art jewellery and the more conceptual side of my practice, therefore my biggest goal is to become recognised for this, exhibiting at contemporary fairs, exhibitions and galleries.

"The facilities here are incredible, particularly in the craft department."

I am in the process of setting up a workshop for myself in a cabin at my home, that I’m sure will quickly become as colourful and messy as my workbench at college! 

It’s great because on this course I have found that my concepts can be applied to other areas rather than just jewellery, which has led me to consider becoming a concept designer for design houses or collaborative studios.

From Fern's 'PLAY' collection, debuting at the Graduate Shows 2016.

At the show you will see an interactive bench that I have developed alongside the jewellery collection. The quirky foam seats not only vary in size, but can screw in and out of the bench base, so that the user can alter the design. I am hoping to exhibit at the New Designers ‘One Year On’ show next year to kick off my future as a designer-maker.

"You find your identity as an artist by stretching yourself and pushing your creative boundaries..."

What advice would you give aspiring artists?

I would say experiment like crazy! You find your identity as an artist by stretching yourself and pushing your creative boundaries, otherwise, you may never find the thing that is unique to only you and your work. 

At the college, there are many facilities and resources that allow you to do this – so don't be shy, make the most of it while its available to you.

Fern's work is interactive, with wearers able to play games, draw and colour with their jewellery.

Keep up to date with Fern’s work as she enters the industry:

Fern's maze ring being worn as part of our Fashion Graduate Collections Lookbook.

See all of the fantastic work from our 500+ talented students across all levels at our Graduate Shows 2016, 11-24 June, free and open to all. See our event page for opening times.

The public can get involved too, with artwork available to purchase, film screenings and live presentations running throughout the duration of the show – including our unmissable Graduate Fashion Show, which takes place at The Red House (Plymouth School of Creative Arts), on June 21 and 22.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram, with #NowYouSeeUs16.

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