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Polly Horwich

MA work

The Everyday: A World of Listening

it’s noisy in here

your words are lost before I can join in the conversation


cupping a hand around my ear, I catch your attention and…

your speech becomes clear

my enhanced hearing or your deliberate articulation?

no matter... it works... I’m back in the party


Participation in everyday life relies on our ability to communicate. Through objects and images, I invite you to consider the issue of reduced hearing, from an alternative perspective.

Combining references to childhood objects, the domestic environment and fine art imagery, my work considers aspects of hearing and communication. Mary, the oldest member of my family, finds it difficult to participate in noisy gatherings and to use conventional hearing aids. She thought an ear trumpet would be her ideal accessory, mimicking the efficacy of cupping the ear, whilst also signaling her difficulty to others.

The ear trumpet is explored in a series of curved paper cones. Created in embossed wallpaper, they evoke a sense of  the walls around us witnessing our existence.  'Walls have ears!' The wallpaper wall also references the ‘hearing’ walls and cones that constituted part of British pre-radar listening defences.

Evoking memories of chats over a 'nice cup of tea', modified teacups fit against the ear as ear trumpets. The 1727 Richard Collins image, A Family of Three at Tea has been restructured to allow for a playful, animated conversation.  Similarly, engaged in a private dialogue, Picasso’s female Absinth Drinker (1930) is recreated as a tin toy where she vacillates between the isolation of alcohol and engagement with the everyday.


  • polly horwich
  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork & Jewellery, 2014

  • Describing myself as a research-based narrative designer and maker is something of a mouthful, yet it describes accurately the practice I have refined over the last two years. I explore concepts through language, visual and material studies and am interested in how to communicate ideas most effectively. Alongside different media, I subvert the familiar and use humour to ‘get under the skin’ of everyday preconceptions. I like particularly the outward-looking ‘why not?’ approach that encourages lateral exploration of design ideas and innovation.

    Embracing a range of technologies beyond the confines of traditional jewellery and metalwork, I choose the most appropriate media for each project to communicate my ideas. For example, my concept for Origin (2011) explored caged structures as jewellery, drawing inspiration not only from my background as an architect but also from contemporary events around the Jubilee celebrations and London Olympics. References included the Crown Jewels, the Thames and Olympic structures. An encouraging critical response led to the AJC Prize, an invited display in Canary Wharf and sales through The Lesley Craze Gallery.  In contrast, my project for RCA Year One investigated the abstraction 'Sparkle', defining it in terms of an entertaining set of tools to putatively enable perception and analysis.

    All makers find a new project exciting and challenging. I have enjoyed sharing my methods and enthusiasm with undergraduates through a teaching workshop, which I designed and led recently at another school.  The experience was both stimulating and rewarding, confirming my desire to include teaching in my career portfolio. Primarily though, I plan to undertake both commissioned and exhibition-based projects. I will seek opportunities to apply my design concepts, my experience of a broad technology range and my communication skills to both surprise and inform, and I have the belief that this can generate a pathway of design progression.

  • Degrees

  • BA (Hons) Three Dimensional Design (Metals), University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, 2007; Diploma in Foundation Studies, Art and Design, Surrey Institute of Art and Design, Farnham, 2004; Diploma in Architecture (Lon), Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, 1980; BSc (Hons) Architecture. Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, 1978
  • Experience

  • Teaching three-day workshop for BA students, Camberwell School of Arts, London, 2014; Independent designer maker, polly horwich contemporary jewellery, Guildford, 2010–present; Artist in residence, University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, 2007–2009; Professional training /practicing Architect with London practices, John Mowlem Construction, Hodges & Haxworth (Architects), Foster Associates (Architects), 1977–1987; Self-employed Architect, Guildford, 1989–2003
  • Exhibitions

  • 30 Years in the Making, Lesley Craze Gallery, London, 2014; Ring Showcase, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, 2014; Noah’s Ark, Royal College of Music, London, 2013; Work-in-progress Show, Royal College of Art, London, 2013; A Bigger Picture, Gallerie Marzee, Nijmegen, Netherlands, 2012; Made12, Corn Exchange, Brighton, 2012; Canary Wharf Window Gallery, London, 2012; Drawn to Craft, Bilston Craft Gallery, Wolverhampton, 2012; National Museum of Women in the Arts Silver Anniversary Show, London West Bank Gallery, London, 2012; International Show, Space Duru Gallery, Seoul, Korea, 2012; Origin, Spitalfields, London, 2012; Caravans to Castles, Craft Central Showcase Gallery, London, 2011; New Jewellery, Fire and Iron Gallery, Leatherhead, Surrey, 2011; The Open-Heart Surgery, Craft Central, London, 2011; Adventures in Jewellery, Milsom Place, Bath, 2010; Cream of the Crop, Gallery One, Grayshott, Surrey, 2008; Festival of Crafts, Farnham Maltings, Surrey, 2008; Art in the Garden, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Hampshire, 2007; New Designers, Business Design Centre, London, 2007; Fairground Gallery, Andover, Hampshire, 2007
  • Awards

  • Winner, The Association of Contemporary Jewellery 2011 Origin Award ; Goldsmiths' Company, Precious Metal Bursary Award, 2007; Prize winner, Worshipful Company of Pewterers: Pewter Live, 2006; Short-listed, Downland Design Award for Architecture, 1995; Short-listed, Guildford Heritage Award, 1993
  • Publications

  • 'The Market Trading', Crafts Magazine, 233, 2011, p.23; 'On golden pond', Architecture Today, 37, 1993, p.40