Robyn graduated from BA Jewellery design in 2014.
I’ve always been interested in the body, and making with my hands, so jewellery seemed like a natural progression of these two interests. After seeing the BA Jewellery Design degree show the year before I applied, CSM was my first choice for studying. The mix of sculptural and wearable pieces produced by the course completely changed my understanding of jewellery, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
I built my portfolio for application during my Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, choosing to study at Kingston University rather than CSM as I wasn’t ready to move to Central London immediately after A-Level. At Kingston I specialised in Graphic Design, and although this meant I began my degree with no technical jewellery training, I learnt to embrace and apply the importance of lateral thinking and communication that had been drilled into me at Foundation. It worked in my favour and I quickly found out that concept really was key at CSM.
With a playful approach to jewellery, I aim to celebrate a wry, humorous take on everyday events and create contemporary pieces that explore unconventional forms.
Drawing inspiration from School Sports Day to household furniture, and everything in between, visual and academic research drives my concern for producing a well-explored and communicated idea.
Underpinned by an interest in utility, I question the properties and purpose of an object, finding humour in the unexpected when a shape is exaggerated beyond its recognisable form
It was challenging! It was important to make conscious design decisions that could be justified when you face teachers who will question your ideas. But I was equally challenged by other students – the course never felt competitive, but being surrounded by students who have a really inventive and creative approach to design, techniques, and materials encourages and inspires you to work to the highest level possible and reach your full potential.
The course structure changed over the 3 years, beginning with taught technical exercises and becoming progressively more self-directed. In first and second year we were timetabled to be in the workshop 2.5 days a week, spending the other days in tutorials and lectures. Both years were constructed of many projects that often overlapped. The third year was spent working on one project to develop a collection of pieces, and was the most challenging, but rewarding, of all the years.
CSM was totally mad; you could be wild and most people are indifferent, it’s pretty liberating to be somewhere like that. Also, incredible lecture series’, fashion shows and the library.
I worked while I was studying, lowered my living standards and was lucky to have a big overdraft! Living in London was hard and I was often jealous of friends around the country who spent half as much as I did on rent, but living in London had benefits that completely outweighed the large cost. I made the most of free activities in London and found the museums, galleries, and theatres on my doorstep really enriched my practice.
After finishing, I was incredibly fortunate to have my collection shown as part of a graduate exhibition at The Aram Gallery, and displayed by the online designer platform NJAL. I’m keen to continue showing my collection, and maybe even make a new one. Before that though, I’d love to have a career in the jewellery industry – I have a lot left to learn from the professionals.
The advice I was given before going away was to put in to Uni what I hoped to get out of it. I think this was pretty good advice - I know it wasn’t the case for everyone, but you can only gain by giving it all you’ve got. Also, to trust your gut.