Previously, I studied Fashion Management at Amsterdam Fashion Institute and started working in PR. I was already in London by the time I applied to the RCA. I’d always wanted to do something more creative and make stuff, and knew this would be around body adornment – things that you’d like to wear.
I had several friends who were doing Fashion MAs at the College, so I was familiar with the building and the type of people. For me, I wanted to have a solid MA. Fashion Management is so broad. I wanted to do something that stands for something. An MA adds so much more to how you are as an artist, and going through the programme gives you confidence in your designs.
The reputation of the RCA is formidable. You go in thinking you’re good but you end up in a class full of hugely creative people and tutors that are not afraid to confront you. You think that you’re individual but they know you from day one. What’s so good is how they work with you, giving you time to talk about your work but also pointing you in the right direction to reflect. It’s really important to have your work put in different contexts and given different references. They do this in a critical but friendly way.
Our head of department, Professor Hans Stofer, says that at the end of your MA you should have a confident belief in your aesthetics and be able to defend how and why you take a particular approach. In our first year, everyone had the same briefs, and when you have crits you find out that people very often have the same ideas. You also realise how your work gets bigger and bolder. It’s about how you can research the things you look at and have a continuous line through. When you look back and see that line, you see yourself getting better.
In the second year, you experiment with new ways, you explore and see how things you know well and new things intertwine. It’s about moving outside your comfort zone and breaking. My references are always fashion-related and I find it easy to distil things into a form of jewellery, but I’m now confronted with exploring more abstract ways of working.
I couldn’t have done this without the technicians, who have helped me realise what can be achieved. In the department, you’re encouraged to make a ‘mess’.
You’ll have this idea in your head that something will be really difficult to make and then you talk about it to the technician who suggests several ways of doing it really simply.
In terms of funding, I had some money saved, but my parents also helped. There’s a bursary for students on a low income, which you can apply for and which I, luckily, got. This meant £3,000 off my tuition fees. To have the fees halved really made a difference.
"Your first year research is about finding how you work and what your aesthetic is. I’ve realised my aesthetic is not how to wear jewellery but how to create a structure for the jewellery to lie in – it doesn’t hang on the body."