Friday, 19 July 2013

Past winners of the Arthur Silver Award - How are they getting on?

Regular readers of this blog will know that last month we presented this year's Arthur Silver Award to Kremena Dimitrova, Final Year BA. Illustration student at Middlesex University.  Kremena was thrilled to win the award and intends to start her own business as a freelance illustrator and animator, using the £1000 prize to set up her own website and purchase materials for her own practice.  As we wish Kremena lots of success with her new venture, we thought you might be interested to know how our previous winners  are getting on. In this post we feature our two most recent past winners from 2012 and 2011:

Our 2012 winner was Elsa Sandy, BA Design, Interior & Applied Arts graduate.  Like Kremena she chose to invest her prize money into her own practice, purchasing materials and renting a studio space. In January Elsa was delighted to exhibit her Arthur Silver Award-winning Love Lace light (pictured below) and her Laceum table at Interiors UK following her selection as a New Design Britain Finalist. As a result several merchandisers expressed interest including Mulberry and River Island.  Elsa has also had interest from John Lewis in her table designs, and so she is busy preparing new samples prior to a meeting to discuss how this might progress.  She also has a large garden design commission, with construction due to commence in August, and looking further ahead there is interest in her award winning lighting design being used in a north London high street.

Elsa with her award winning Love Lace light

According to Elsa, 'finding paid employment within the design world is proving impossible without CAD (computer aided design) skills, so in order to gain these I have been volunteering at a Homebase Kitchen, Bathroom and Bedroom showroom'.

Kerry Howley, BA Jewellery graduate, was our 2011 winner.  Kerry was inspired by wallpapers in the collection to create an amazing series of  necklaces made from human hair.  Her necklaces were featured in the national press, helping to generate a massive wave of interest in her work which resulted in further press activity, commissions and exhibitions. Kerry was also chosen by Craft magazine as one of their six favourite graduates for 2011.The necklaces are still in demand and have been to a couple of places in the last year, including a return trip to the Netherlands for their second Dutch design week, this time as part of the Droog Design show. This was particularly exciting for Kerry as she commented 'Droog are consistently at the boundaries of product/craft/interior design, blurring all the lines'. The necklaces also went back to Milan Design week at Castillo Sforzesco. 

Arguably the most recent stand out event for Kerry was appearing in person alongside one of her necklaces on Channel 4's 'Four Rooms'. She was approached last year by researchers from Boundless TV looking for unusual items. Filming was in January, the programme aired last month, and is still available to see for a while on 4od. Kerry commented, 'I agreed to the show as they confirmed that I did not have to sell (I did not want to) and I thought it might be a fun and interesting day out - which it was!'

One of Kerry's award winning hair necklaces featured on Channel 4's 'Four Rooms' 
In terms of employment it hasn't all been plain sailing for Kerry.  Following redundancy from a local goldsmiths, she has now decided to go self employed. Kerry has bought her first jewellers bench and hopes to launch a collection of jewellery inspired by her hair jewellery this year - in silver!   Kerry suggested she may be popping back to MoDA once this project is more established, to seek our further inspiration from the collections.

So as you can see, both our most recent Arthur Silver Award winners have managed to build on their initial success. But like the vast majority of recent graduates, particularly those in Art & Design, they are also facing tough challenges in terms of gaining employment. Elsa has chosen to tackle this by improving her CAD skills, and by putting her design skills to good use in a number of different areas  including both product and garden design. Like many who are made redundant, Kerry has chosen to become self-employed and become master of her own destiny. Both have shown considerable determination and tenacity to get where they are now, on top of their obvious design talent. We'd like to wish them both well as they move forward in their chosen fields, and look forward to sharing their future successes with you over the coming months and years.

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