Tag Archives: Scotland

The Body Beautiful


Surgeons’ Hall Museum, has always been an intriguing place for me and is, in fact, one of my favourite places in Edinburgh.  Tucked away in the Royal College of Surgeons’ Campus in Edinburgh, if  you have an interest in anatomy, surgery and the curiosities of the human body, you could do far worse than spend an hour or two exploring it’s many treasures.

During my final year at DJCAD the Museum was, and remains, an incredibly inspiring resource.  Originally founded in 1505, with its collections expanding rapidly after 1699 when the cultural  interest in natural curiosities blossomed.  It was originally intended to be a medical teaching resource and is home to three individual museums: Pathology;  the History of Surgery  and the Dental Museum.

Yes, it’s weird.  Yes, it’s wonderful.  But it’s also rather beautiful. When you walk through the Pathology Museum, one of the largest collections of pathological anatomy in the UK, you are confronted with shelves lined with jars containing   preserved slices and sections of medical abnormalities, diseases of tissue and bone and preserved examples of the effects of weaponry on the body some some of which date back more than 100 years. Given that so much of my own work was focused on the removal of body parts from their original context, the research opportunities and context afforded by Surgeon’s Hall was invaluable.

If you venture upstairs to the History of Surgery, you will find  Edinburgh’s special contribution to surgical practice in modern times. This gallery traces the key dates in Scotland’s surgical advances and focuses on key figures such as Syme and pre-anaesthesia surgery, Simpson and the discovery of chloroform as an anaesthetic; and Lister and the breakthrough discovery of antiseptic.

The collection in the Dental Museum is also amazing,  exploring the development of dentistry from its earliest days to modern times. Despite initially looking like a small exhibit, it’s jam-packed with a huge range of tools and equipment.

Add to this the range of lectures, events and artist’s workshops and you have an amazing resource for artists and designers alike.


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The ECA 2013 Degree Show

I’m starting this off with an apology for the length of time between posts – it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind, between getting my own results (First Class Honours! I’ll never get tired of writing that!), the DJCAD 2013 Degree Show, preparing for New Designers at the end of the month and getting back to post student life – and I haven’t even graduated yet!

So, you may well be wondering why this post is about the Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) Degree Show and not DJCAD’s.  Well, it’s a questions of currency – the DJCAD show has been closed for a few weeks now and the ECA show is open until this Sunday.  Also, I’m planning on posting about all the jewellery and metal design work from the lovely students of DJCAD that’s going down south at the end of the month, so fret not!

But back to the Edinburgh College of Art Show! The show is running until this Sunday (9th June) I felt the jewellery show was strong this year, with a great range and a fair bit of silversmithing too!

I’m going to give you a whizz through some of my favourites from the jewellery department.  There’s  lots of other fantastic work in this department which I strongly recommend you go and see for yourself!

First up, Kirsty Stewart! Inspired by nature (flowers, feathers and leaves) Kirsty’s work has a beautifully contemporary feel through combining precious metals and gems with plastics. Vibrant and gorgeous.

Kirsty Stewart, Feather Brooch

Kirsty Stewart, Leaf Ring

Kelly Munro‘s collection is inspired by the fishing industry of her hometown on the North Coast of Scotland. Beautiful colours, textures and intriguing use of materials abound.

Kelly Munro

Kelly Munro

And now, some silversmithing! Polly Collins‘ Slow Dining collection.  Described by the artist as “tableware we are friends with”  Polly considers a world in which we are friends with our utensils, where we want to spend time with them and to nurture them, to take the time to slow down from our busy lives and hectic schedules.

Polly Collins


Polly Collins

Of great interest to me was Emily Martinelli’s work which was inspired by visual representations of the internal human body. It’s very striking, the forms intriguing, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her work.

Emily Martinelli

Emily Martinelli

This is just a small snapshot from a great show, so please do pay it a visit if you can before the doors close on Sunday 9th June.

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Craft Scotland and the “c” word…


I feel like I’ve been on a bit of a roll this week.  I attended a lecture by and got to meet the rather fantastic Patrick Ian Hartley (and yes, I’m still grinning about that), I’ve gotten my head down and have been spending a lot of time making in the studio (pics will follow soon, I swear 😉 ) and, just when I thought things couldn’t get much better, I attended a lecture by Emma Walker, the CEO of Craft Scotland, who was visiting DJCAD to lecture on audience development.

It was a really exciting presentation, again emphasizing the need for us, as new designers, to make the most of the opportunities available to us, and where there appear to be none, to create them.

Emma Walker really is an inspiration.  She was the UK’s youngest ever CEO at age 27 (a mere four years ago, I might add) and has completely redefined the connotations of craft in the UK.

When Emma started in her new role, she realized that there were a lot of negative connotations around “craft”.

It’s true. People either don’t understand what craft is (or indeed what Craft Scotland was) or had negative associations with the term.  Many have no idea of the talented artists out there or of the vibrant, inspirational Scottish craft scene.  Instead of getting a totally unique piece, meticulously handcrafted by a local artisan, the first port of call for many is the chain store, the mass-produced. For some this is a consciously chosen buying behaviour, for others it’s the result of a lack of awareness of what is actually out there.

To quote Emma, “craft, contrary to popular belief or the tired and lacklustre marketing campaigns that so often surround it, is one of the most urgent of art forms. It demands attention – and from now on it’s going to get it. We want to inject confidence into the sector, raise the profile of makers and their craft, and encourage the potential buyers to become craft supporters.

The contemporary craft sector has many faces – affordable and aspirational, functional and curatorial, a weekend shopping spree or an investment piece. However one thing remains the same – The C Word is most definitely craft.”

For more information about Craft Scotland and their inspirational work, please visit their website.

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