Press Release: Prize winning medals, visiting tutors and drinking vessels inspired by all aspects of West Dean College make for a busy time in the metalwork studio

Finn Banwell, Foundation Degree Arts - Metalwork student at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has won the silver prize in the Student Medal Project, organised by the British Art Medal Society.   

The Student Medal Project encourages and promotes the art of making medals throughout art colleges in the UK. Each year over 100 student medals are submitted for judging for prizes and selection for exhibition. 

Finn's medal design, titled 'The Test of Time', is inspired by the legacy of some of the oldest buildings still standing today: the Ziggurat structure. The medal, once constructed, will be cast in bronze, with one side patinated green to reflect age and the other, brightly polished and gleaming. A modern cityscape is projected onto a simple outline of the Ziggurat structure. 

He commented: "I like the contrast; that although millennia separate them, they are part of the same lineage. The edge of the medal documents time as a single drifting line. This line acts as a marker of the time that has elapsed from the first buildings to the most recent, punctuated by events of global significance along the way."

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Finn Banwell at his workbench in the metals workshop, with his design in the background. Image credit: Chris Ison
Finn Banwell at his workbench in the metals workshop, with his design in the background. Image credit: Chris Ison
Finn Banwell's medal design.
Finn Banwell's medal design.

This wasn't the only competition that metalwork students at West Dean have entered. Finn Banwell was also highly commended in The Cutlers’ Company Contemporary Cutlery Design Competition. There were only three awards with first and second place given to the Royal College of Art and West Dean got the only highly commended as third place.  Called  ‘Eat, Feed, Devour’, Finn described his entry: “My cutlery will be made from sheet silver, chased and formed to resemble prehistoric flint tools. This will create a similar feel in the hand to the original flint tools and will give us a similar eating experience to that of our ancestors,” while the Judges statement said: “ A clever and creative design with an interesting take on ergonomics.”  

Grant McCaig, Subject Leader (Metals FdA) Conservation, also commented: “This is a great result for us considering the level of competition from RCA, Central St Martins, Glasgow School of Art, etc.” 

Fin Banwell's fork design.
Fin Banwell's fork design.

Over the academic year, West Dean College has welcomed a number of visiting lecturers to the metals workshops. Among them was Jessica Jue, who taught metals students on the Foundation Degree Arts, Graduate Diploma and MA Conservation Studies programmes skills and techniques in chasing and repoussé - skills she first learnt at West Dean College six years ago! Students practised creating various shapes and patterns onto copper sheets, before applying these skills to create a chased beaker. Other visiting lecturers included expert enameller Jane Short and fine jeweller Lee Graham, who taught students the art of stone setting in rings working from a single piece of metal. 

Jessica Jue in the workshop.
Jessica Jue in the workshop.

The students finished their academic year last week and second year student Henry Ball, produced for his final project, a series of silver drinking vessels inspired by his time at the college. The first piece, a silver teacup, inspired by his tutor, Grant McCaig and is made from all recycled and repurposed materials. The two rhododendron beakers inspired by the arboretum where the rhododendron were beginning to bloom when he started the project, while the engraved peacock cup was inspired by an engraving short course he took part in, as well as by the College’s founder Edward James himself, who often used peacocks in his designs. He plans to use the profit from these pieces to fund the development of his home workshop. 

Henry Ball's drinking vessel.
Henry Ball's drinking vessel.

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has an international reputation for excellence and is a full partner of the University of Sussex. Students benefit from fully equipped workshops, expert tutors and lecturers, and access to material from the College’s amazing Collection and Archive. Craft Foundation Degrees include Metalwork, Furniture, Clocks and Musical Instruments, for more information on these and other Conservation and Fine Art study opportunities, see www.westdean.ac.uk. Applications are open now for September 2021 study.   

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Notes to Editors:

  • West Dean College of Arts and Conservation was founded in 1971 by the poet and Surrealist patron, Edward James, recognised by BBC Arts as the ‘the greatest patron of art of the early 20th century’. 
  • The College is part of The Edward James Foundation (Charity No. 1126084), also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and West Dean Tapestry Studio.  
  • All photography is free to use for editorial purposes. 
  • West Dean College is situated on the A286, six miles north of Chichester and within easy access of Portsmouth, Guildford, Brighton and London. 

For all media enquiries please contact Rachel Aked:
Email: rachel.aked@westdean.org.uk 
Telephone: 07790 732448 

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0QZ