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Inspiring jewellery from designer Julie

Julie Ann Hayes is a Creative Media and Visual Communication degree student who has produced an intricate series of bespoke jewellery items which explore our obsession with online filters, digital beauty and the world.

We spoke to Julie about her stunning designs, her time at UCEN Manchester on the BA (Hons) following her HND in jewellery design, and her international career goals.

Can you tell us a bit about your final project?

“Due to lockdown I had to change my initial ideas and I started to think about the current situation of social restrictions. Beauty salons, hairdressers and barbers are out of reach therefore filtering your image virtually has become more prevalent to hide any imperfections. My final project is a take on wearable filters. We all love to look beautiful and unique so can we bring the online filters to life using jewellery?

“‘Magnification’, the design with the big doll-like eyes and mouth, is based on the filters that enhance the facial features. The inspiration for this design came from fashion designer Daniel Lismore with his beautiful, theatrical fashion. He has been a big influence in a lot of my designs. The decision to use embroidery came from a trip to a Yorkshire sculpture park before lockdown which has colourful, large textiles sculptures in an underground exhibition. My design pieces are hand embroidered and the lorgnette frame is hand made from copper. 

“While researching I came across an article ‘What future beauty tribe will you be part of over the next 100 years?’ which discusses the digital world and beauty. This led to me exploring the idea of humans becoming Frankenstein's monster of the future when we start to fully immerse ourselves into the digital world with cybernetics. Technology is always changing so would our digital body parts become obsolete or start to corrode? This inspired ‘Beauty Expired’. These pieces are hand formed from copper, then enamelled and then left outside in vinegar and salt to provide the patina effect of corrosion. I added holographic material to the eyepiece to provide a pixel effect.

“Another side of the digital and real world is the censoring of women. Throughout history, rules and restrictions have been placed on our body and mind. By breaking these rules historically, we have been labelled witches, harlots and heathens. The mouthpiece is silenced lips. This design is a political protest piece of the silence of women's voices. The eyepiece is a censored breast plate. This piece covers the eye to restrict the wearer's sight instead of the exposed body. The chain is recycled from old jewellery, the black is permanent marker. I couldn’t purchase oxidising solution due to lockdown so I had to improvise.” 

Have you had any feedback on your final project?

“My tutors have all said they love my final designs. I’ve not been graded for this project yet however, I’ve received a first for every unit on this course so far which for me is a huge achievement.”

What is your ultimate career aim?

“After visiting Munich jewellery week while studying the HND, both I and my fellow course student, Hannah Marshall, want to bring the same festival to Manchester. I’ve started a group called ‘The Collect’ and I’m hoping to make this into a platform for jewellery designers from Manchester with the help from another former jewellery student Cara Codd. I’d also love to create jewellery for films or theatre.” 

Was there anything that you found particularly inspiring while on your course at UCEN Manchester?

“I was able to learn a huge variety of techniques and materials as we had access to metal, plastics and ceramics classes. We were also given lessons on photography, website building and adobe creative cloud. 

“The trip to Munich and the Great Northern Craft Fair inspired me to look at jewellery in a different way.

The classes are small which means you receive more one to one with tutors. The library staff were amazing and were always on hand to help.

“My tutors have been amazing! My designs are very elaborate and I have very unusual ideas which has always been encouraged. I was very stressed going into lockdown due to a parent who is high risk but my tutors were very understanding and they tried to help me in any way they could. They gave me details of counselling which I could access and even though I didn’t use it, it was good to know it was there.” 

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying for your course / UCEN Manchester?

“I never thought I would be able to achieve a degree because I didn't do that well in school. What I would say to future students is that when there is a passion for the subject you’re studying, you will be surprised just how far you can push yourself.

With fantastic tutors who are patient and who inspire you, you can achieve a lot.

I’ve met amazing students at UCEN Manchester who are so talented, inspiring and they will be friends for life.” 

What are your hopes for the future?

“I’m now focusing on some new exciting jewellery designs that I'm looking to reveal next month. Hopefully with these and my current designs, I’ll be able to showcase them at Munich Jewellery Week next year.” 

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