London: University for the Creative Arts, UK Government has issued the following news release:
Postgraduate students studying Fashion, Design and Contemporary Jewellery at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) Rochester have taken part in a Europe-wide project about the potential sustainability of denim.
Working with European partners ArtEZ Institute of the Arts Arnhem in Holland and Hochschule fur Technik und Wirtschaft (HTW) Berlin in Germany, UCA Rochester hosted a workshop-exhibition in Shoreditch last week, where students worked on projects that took denim back to its basic form.
"Sustainability in fashion virtually doesn't exist as it's always changing and there's always an aspect of production or distribution working against you," said Ulrich Lehmann, Course Leader for MA Fashion at UCA Rochester. "With this project we didn't want to just upcycle denim clothing, but do something more substantial, so the students have been going back to the very fibres and components used in denim production and attempted to engage with sustainability at a fundamental level."
Mafalda working on denim jewellery This is the third year that UCA Rochester has developed a critical project with ArtEZ and HTW Berlin, which gives them a chance to explore sustainability in fashion as well as take part in an exchange programme.
"The students are very interested in sustainability and a number of them choose to do this project alongside their MA. It's a great way to alert them to the issues in fashion, and qualifies them to have a critical view of the industry. They're really getting something out of it for their future careers."
MA Contemporary Jewellery student Mafalda Santos Manteigas channelled her interest in accessories to create pieces from deconstructed denim embedded in bio-resin.
"I didn't like the accessories that were being made out of denim - I found them tacky, dull and not inspiring at all. So I started to deconstruct the denim into something that didn't look like denim so much. I also love contrast, so it was cool to tear apart something that is supposed to be very resistant. I wanted to frame, almost freeze, those threads and fibres in something harder and clear - again, the contrast and opposites."
Denim jewelllery by Mafalda
Mafalda's sustainable denim jewellery
She used bio-resin for sustainability; it is partly bio-degradable and much less toxic than epoxy resin so it doesn't harm the skin or have strong fumes.
Mafalda came over from her native Portugal a few years ago to study at UCA, after studying for a BA in Design in Lisbon and attending UCA Rochester as part of an exchange programme.
"In my search in UCAS, I found UCA with the jewellery course and had this school in mind. By luck, the year I applied, they opened a vacancy for my course to come to UCA Rochester! It felt like destiny."
"I loved the experience; the education is completely different here to in Portugal. I was welcomed, made a lot of friends and I felt like people cared about me.
Blue dish from Denim exhibition meal "I liked the proportion of theory and practice - I liked that we didn't have a busy timetable and had much more time to work than in Lisbon. I love the workshops and facilities we have in UCA. When I came [on the exchange programme], I asked to do jewellery instead and they let me, so I finally realised that was what I was supposed to be doing. That was when I decided I wanted to come back and apply for a Masters in Contemporary Jewellery."
The exhibition closed with a communal meal that was fitting with the theme. A group of MA Design students that enjoy cooking experimented with the colour blue and the perceptions around food. Investigating how different foods like potatoes, noodles and rice absorb the colour, the students also created a table layout on a denim theme.
"It was a fantastic food experience with a variety of colour modifications," said Katarina Dimitrijevic, Course Leader for MA Design and MA Contemporary Jewellery at UCA Rochester. "The main meal was served in disposable cups externally coated with denim threads. The dish was initially approached with public reservation due to blue hues, but it was a delightful taste sensation."
Blue sushi from Denim exhibition meal
"The food certainly looked the part within the denim workshop - but it was not what you would normally have on your dinner table," said Alastair Harper, CEO of ReWorKs UK, who has been collaborating with the MA programme at Rochester for the past couple of years. "Once you get over the initial resistance to digesting what looked like indigo-dyed ingredients, the smell and taste becomes so much more intense. The cucumber gin & tonic as well as the noodles dish with nuts were a real treat."
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