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NOVA : Tools

Tools laid out in front of coloured brick
Tools laid out in front of coloured brick
NOVA X exhibition (photo: Andrea Capello)
Written by
Teleri Lloyd-Jones
Published date
13 October 2021

On show in the Lethaby Gallery and online, NOVA X explores the fragments of life that influence and inform creative practice. From a microscope to the humble Post-It, here we share the tools at the centre of our graduates' making.

The exhibition maps the work and stories of past winners of the MullenLowe NOVA Awards for Fresh Creative Talent. Arranging fragments across Tools, Objects, Insights, Texts and Artefacts, the exhibitions shares the meaningful moments that make up a practice, whether that's material innovation, art or product design.

Generating ideas is a wide and far-reaching process; they emerge from the interconnections between moments we experience. From a quote overheard on the radio, to a passage in a favourite book or an image that evokes a feeling; our lives are filled with fragments. These fragments shape our work and ideas and yet they are often ignored in favour of the final outcome, the finished product.
Abbie Vickress, curator of NOVA X

Pink Post-It note with pen
Post-It and pen (photo: Elissa Brunato)

Post-It notes by Alice Turner, BA Product and Industrial Design

"The tool that enables me to think out loud."

... and Elissa Brunato, MA Material Futures

"Post-Its have the ability to capture my rapid thoughts and mind mapping becomes a calming process for my brain. I love the fact that nothing becomes static and you can pull them away, adjust the hierarchy and rearrange streams of thoughts based on new denominators."

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    Studio (photo: Hannah Scott)
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    Outside (photo: Hannah Scott)

Studio (inside and outside) by Hannah Scott, MA Art and Science

"On the road, I’m always in the present, vulnerable, and open. At my desk, I have time to reflect and experiment. I love this outside/inside – collecting/processing relationship – it keeps me in a state of flux and out of my comfort zone and I think that is key to making work."

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    NOVA X exhibition (photo: Andrea Capello)
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    Hands (photo: Lucie Davis)

Hands by Lucie Davis, BA Jewellery Design

"Besides my vital red toolbox and mountain of sketchbooks, an incredible set of tools which I use every day are my hands! It’s often through playing with materials, drawing in my sketchbook, sawing, filing, picking things apart/piecing them back together with my hands that I can often surprise myself and my capabilities.

My 10 fingers are the ultimate toolbox, everything I’ve made in this collection is crafted by them. Also, a lot of what I explore is the tension between things that are machine-made/manufactured versus handmade. The human touch is getting more and more precious as we have entered the digital revolution. And because I get a lot of my inspiration from the everyday performative tasks, I find hands as tools questioning our everyday rituals. We get so caught up in this fast moving/constantly changing everyday experience that we lose meaning in them. Again, it’s tracing our everyday mundane movements, absorbing that familiar imagery, taking it all in and observing with a critical eye and attention to detail. Then building it up in a scrapbook from which I can draw on and then make and play with."

Digital image of abstract shape with green and blue pixels
Image from microscope (photo: Elissa Brunato)

Microscope by Elissa Brunato, MA Material Futures

"It is incredible to look through a microscope at the natural world. To me, the intricate architecture of nature looks so much like the details of embroidery work. I find calm in knowing that there is more to the world than what I see through my eyes. It makes me feel grounded and part of an ecosystem. The better our microscopic tools get, the more we will learn and discover of the world."

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    The Hardest Working Van in Show Business (photo: Luke Franklin)
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    The Hardest Working Van in Show Business (photo: Luke Franklin)

Mike's van by Luke Franklin, BA Fine Art

"Whenever someone asks what my medium is, I usually shout at them. I get a gang of lads, get a van, put a load of gear in the back and then go do something stupid. Mike’s HiAce is usually that van. In Ireland, a HiAce is a “knacker wagon”.

Drive it for a couple of days and someone will try by weed off you. Or sell you some. I want to dig into these two personas by exploring the van’s cultural identities that live in song, photography, and reputation to see if there is a way to puncture and reconcile those warring ideas. Why does Irish folk king, Christy Moore, punk legends Paranoid Visions and Finnish death metal band, Cannibal Accident, all immortalise the van in song?

Can a work-horse shit-box be an artwork in a white-box? Or will it always just be a novelty? This is Mike’s van, there are many like it but this one is Mike’s."

NOVA X is at the Lethaby Gallery until 23 October.Explore the NOVA X website.