New Talent

Creating the Future of Craft

Kunning Ding / Photography by Shannon Tofts

Kunning Ding / Photography by Shannon Tofts

Originally published: Thursday 24 June 2021

Updated: Tuesday 6 July 2021


This year’s Degree Shows represent the full scope of creativity, resilience and originality of Scotland’s graduates.

Building on last year’s foray into the world of virtual Degree Shows, Scotland's universities and colleges have worked with students and partners to create innovative online exhibition platforms and curate dedicated programme of events.  

Here is our round-up of Scotland's Degree Shows, taking place online this summer. We've also highlighted some must-see, inspiring craft projects from Scotland's new talent. 

Useless Machine by Kialy Tihngang

Image: Kialy Tihngang, Useless Machine, 2021 / Image courtesy of Kialy Tihngang at Glasgow School of Art


New Talent – 2021 Focus on Graduates 

This year’s graduates have not only shown resilience and adaptability in challenging circumstances but have also pushed boundaries in their exploration of craft and contemporary issues.  

Sustainability, and a concern for the lifecycle of objects, have inspired students in their final year projects. Textile Design graduate Kialy Tihngang (GSA)’s Useless Machine looks at the growing issue of climate colonialism and illegal electronic waste dumping by countries in the global north to countries in the global south, with a focus on Ghana. The collection combines the bold, clashing colours and materials of the discarded e-waste to create new objects. 

Another Textile Design graduate, Eden Parkes (DJCAD) considers the lifecycle of both primary material and finished object. The project CO-EXISTENCE (CE) is inspired by mycelium, an incredibly complex fungus that connects a vast majority of the earth’s ecosystems. In CE, Eden combines traditional eco-conscious processes (organic & repurposed fabrics) with non-traditional processes (3D printing & laser cutting). The resulting textiles are both sustainable and pliable, as well as bio-degradable, inscribing it in a circular economy model. 

Material Transformation by Kunning DingImage: Kunning Ding, Disappear and Grow, 2021 / Photography by Shannon Tofts

Other graduates took inspiration from nature, focusing on unique materials or processes to create beautiful and inventive new work. Jewellery MFA graduate Kunning Ding (ECA) focused on the transformation of wood through the process of engraving. In Material Transformation, Kunning worked with wood to create a new jewellery collection, using both the engraved wood and the wood dust created during process in the final resin and wood rings.  

Textile Design graduate Lucy Carrie (DJCAD) took the rich and opulent colours from the agates and minerals found on the Arbroath coastline as inspiration for Hidden Gems, a collection of digitally printed textiles. The idea behind the project emerged from Lucy’s hobby as a mineral excavator. 

Students have also worked to combine hand-made skills and new technology in their graduate collections to create interactive works. Jewellery and Silversmithing graduate Iris (Bingyan) Qu (ECA) was inspired by childhood memories of collecting marbles to create kinetic jewellery, where colourful balls move and rotate freely in silver and resin structures. Iris created extensive digital models to perfect the design and ensure it is fully functioning for the wearer to interact with. 

Work by Louise ColvilleImage: Louise Colville, 2021 / Image courtesy of Louise Colville at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design

Jewellery & Metal Design graduate Louise Colville (DJCAD) used plastics, aluminium, and CAD software to create fully interactive jewellery that can be manipulated and changed by the wearer. With this graduate collection, Louise aims to convey how important the mind and the body are in identifying the world around us. 

Another significant theme explored by graduates is that of mental health and wellbeing, exploring how to convey often complex emotions through their work. Textile Design graduate Al (ECA) created Curious While Calm, a collection of versatile textiles for the home. Playing with different techniques using wool and fabric, weight, textures and colours, the collection can be used to create varying sensory environments to adapt to their users' emotional needs. 

In Good Grief, Design for Textiles graduate Rebecca Boyd (Heriot-Watt) explores grief and loss through illustrative textiles. Using vibrant colours and patterns, Rebecca seeks to portray life in a celebratory manner and break the ominous unspoken topic of death. 

a work by Ivy Mcgoldrick

Image: Ivy Mcgoldrick, Trans Sensory Overload, 2021 / Image courtesy of Ivy Mcgoldrick at Glasgow School of Art

Other textile graduates focused specifically on neurodiversity in their showcase, engaging with negative stereotypes or creating sensory designs. With Trans Sensory Overload, Ivy Mcgoldrick (GSA) looked at the intersection of Trans Femme Identity and ADHD, creating a collection of colourful, sensory textiles for interior environments. 

Design for Textiles graduate Hannah Davey (Heriot-Watt) created Alphabetical Chaos. The project was inspired by Hannah’s own experience with dyslexia and visual distress, which causes words and letters to distort and form patterns. The collection of knitted fabrics is designed to encourage visual and tactile stimulation through patterns, shapes and textures.

In Reclaimed Disorder, Jennifer Green (DJCAD) shows the aggressive and often vulgar language used to describe autistic women, through childhood and into adulthood. The work, using knit and wool to create wearable pieces, juxtaposes poetic and visual structures to demonstrate the power of language. 


See more from Scotland’s Degree Shows 

Kicking off the Degree Show season was Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design, whose online Graduate Showcase, RE IMAGINE, launched Friday 28 May 2021. The showcase features immersive 3D galleries, and a video gallery of students' works and processes, and visitors can browse graduates’ works by courses. Explore at www.hwgraduateshow.com.

The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) launched its Graduate Showcase on Friday 9 June 2021. The showcase features over 500 graduating students work, across the GSA’s five schools and both Glasgow and Singapore locations, and profiles will stay online for 12 months. An online programme of events was created by students and staff in partnership with Don’t Google It, with performances, film screenings, live music and artists talks. Events included a conversation on side hustles with Montana Hall (Run The Check) and Scottish Artists Union, and a closing event with guests Travis Alabanza, Morvern Cunningham, and the GSA’s POC, Queer and Intersectional Feminist Societies. Explore at gsashowcase.net.

Opening the same week, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD) showcase ran from Friday 11 June to Monday 21 June 2021, with the virtual exhibition itself remaining online throughout the summer. A live streamed presentation by staff and students across DJCAD’s 11 courses launched a week-long programme of events, including chat with graduates, and live panels with DJCAD alumni such as Ding Wang and Sekai Machache. Insightful stories exploring the graduating students’ work and further interviews with graduates and alumni are also available to browse online. Explore at www.dundee.ac.uk/graduate-showcase/2021.

Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) premiered a mix a hybrid physical and online graduate showcase, running from Friday 18 June to Friday 25 June 2021. The physical exhibition ran for a week, allowing a limited number of visitors in a one-hour timeslot. Online, you can explore the graduate showcase by courses, as well as through overarching themes that link all disciplines. A programme of events devised by students and staff ran throughout the week, closing on Friday 25 June 2021, including presentations and screenings from graduating students, online talks and live music. More events have been organised until Monday 26 July 2021, including artist Alberta Whittle in conversation with Cat Dunn, and talks from industry professionals such as textiles designer Christopher Raeburn. Explore at www.graduateshow.eca.ed.ac.uk.

The City of Glasgow College’s Faculty of Creative Industries has launched a digital showcase for the graduating classes of 2021. Each student has been invited to display one of their final year works as part of the online exhibition, and exhibiting classes include Applied Arts and Jewellery, Product Design, Art Glass and Furniture Craftsmanship with Design. Explore at myskills.cityofglasgowcollege.ac.uk/endofyear2021-studentshowcase 

The Gray’s School of Art will close Degree Show season with their online showcase, Onwards, from Friday 9 July to Monday 19 July 2021. The showcase will take the form of a fully immersive digital exhibition, with the option to navigate a series of 3D virtual spaces and experience the work in a virtual environment, as well as new accessibility features such as audio descriptions. The showcase will present over 150 graduates’ works, such as Three-Dimensional Design graduate Maria Laidlaw’s Jewellery collection, created from discarded materials. An accompanying programme of events including talks, interactive workshops, fashion shows and music, will run alongside the showcase. This project was developed with Gray’s School of Art’s creative unit Look Again. Visit www.rgu.ac.uk from 9 July 2021.

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