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Sheffield Hallam MA/MFA Exhibition Part 1

Last week I went to the MA/MFA Design Exhibition at Sheffield Hallam University. I came across the exhibition on Klimt02, a platform that showcases contemporary jewellery design.

It seemed serendipitous that as I started a contemporary jewellery blog, here was an exhibition in the heart of Sheffield city.

This is part 1 of a 2 part article.

Exhibition overview

I thought the work and execution of the jewellery was incredible. Some of the techniques even blurred the boundaries between jewellery and product design. All the students really explored and pushed the limits of traditional jewellery making.

The first thing that struck me was how each student’s body of work was completely different. The student’s themes included China’s one child policy, loneliness, gaming technology, democracy, digital footprints and fairytales.

I’ve focused on three students whose work stood out for me. Li Mingyang’s work features in this post and you can read about Yani Wang and Xuewen Yao’s work in part 2 of this post.

Li Minyang - universal boredom

What drew me to Li’s work was the technical execution of his piece. It’s a beautiful (and large) silver ‘orb’ forged and shaped by hand. This is painstaking work that involves repeated hammering and heating of metal until you get your desired shape.

The orb stands on a steel frame that allows it to rotate. As it rotates, there are steel balls that move inside the orb. The steel balls can fall out the orb through 2 openings that act as funnels. If a ball accidentally falls into a funnel, it will fall through the funnel and onto the ground.

Li’s concept is about his experience of living in Beijing and Sheffield. Although both places are completely different, they're both very similar and his routine is the same and often quite boring. He compares this to the Greek tale of Sisyphus. Sisyphus was a cruel king who’s punished and forced to push a large boulder up a hill again and again for eternity.

The orb captures the concept of continuous movement and routine. Its rotation goes on and on but as Li says “time goes by, the sun goes up. Boredom goes on, and I love boredom.” I did enjoy his explanation of the 1 difference between Beijing and Sheffield as:

“In Beijing, a hundred people would tell me a hundred trivial things on a single day. And there would only be ten people in Sheffield [who] talked to me with two things “cheers’ and ‘sorry’.”

Continue to Part 2.

Find out more about Sheffield Hallam’s MA design work by following them on Instagram @shu_mamfadesign. All image rights belong the respective jewellers.

© 2020 by Metal Muse