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Sheffield Hallam MA/MFA Exhibition Part 2

This is part 2 of my write up of the Sheffield Hallam MA/MFA Exhibition. Read part 1 if you’d like to see more work from the exhibition.

Yani Wang’s digital jewellery

Yani Wany - decorative digital footprints

Yani’s work focuses on how in a digital world, we have very little privacy. We’ve all experienced the moment when you see an Instagram ad, just moments after you were talking about the exact thing the ad is advertising. Are 'they' listening to us?

Yani poses the question that although sometimes it’s convenient to have ads tailored to us, where do we draw the line? As we become reliant on digital technology, our information is collected and stored to create a ‘user portrait’. What does this mean for our privacy in the future?

Yani Wang glasses

To illustrate this concept, Yani created a series of intricate reading glasses. The level of craftsmanship and detail is incredible and a testament to her skill as a jeweller. The glasses have tiny blocks with symbolic etchings on each block. The etchings look like a new digital language.

The work blurs the boundaries of jewellery as pure decoration and jewellery that’s functional. Is this the jewellery of the future, where everything will collect snippets of information from us? I hope not, but I would love to wear a pair of those glasses - for decorative purposes only.

Detail of Yani Wang's glasses

Xuewen Yao - weighing in on justice

I found Xuewen’s work incredibly thoughtful and interesting. She explores the idea that today on social platforms we hold our own ‘court trials.’ When we’re online and behind a screen, it’s easy to condemn someone for saying something you don’t agree with. When we do this as a group there’s no personal responsibility. Often we'll follow popular opinion blindly without thinking about the consequences.

Xuewen's body of work that acts as a reminder that we need to be responsible for what we say and our freedom of speech. She’s used resin embedded with white feathers. The feathers look beautiful and ephemeral resting in the transparent resin. They represent freedom but also fragility because they’re easily ruined or destroyed.

My favourite piece is a redesign of a judge’s gavel. Instead of a handle, there is a chain connected between two weighted blocks that each look like the head of a gavel.

The gavel is now a heavy weight that serves to remind us that as individuals, we’re responsible for our actions. Freedom of speech is sacred and we need to be careful we don’t abuse it.

Justice mask with gavel

I was really blown away by the thought and depth of the work of all the MA students. The execution and technical ability of their work was also something to marvel at. I wish them all the best for their futures. 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