New Designers 2017

One Year On x Alumni Interviews

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Samantha Donaldson Green

In this series of blog posts we caught up with previous One Year On exhibitors to see where they are now in their respective careers and how exhibiting in One Year On influenced their creative path. We spoke to Leah Jensen, Ceramic Artist who exhibited in 2015, Jeweller and One Year On Award Winner Flora Battachary who also exhibited in One Year On in 2015, Glass Maker Samantha Donaldson, who exhibited in 2013 and Ceramic Artist and 2016 One Year On Exhibitor Olivia Walker.

Do you have any particular memories from the show you would like to share with us?

Leah Jensen: I have been involved with New Designers for the previous 3 events, first in the main show, then One Year One and last year I took part in a talk. Thinking back to each of those times I am able to remember exactly how I felt, and I remember what stage my practise was at. These clear memories of each event have really given me accurate markers of how I have developed personally and professionally in that short time. I learnt so much with each show.

Olivia Walker: My memory of the show is a blur of conversations and really great meetings with interested and interesting people. I also remember the other participants being amazing – I didn’t know anyone before but by the end of the show I felt like I knew them all really well – a lovely and supportive bunch of people.

Samantha Donaldson: I remember my showcase at One Year On very well indeed, what a fantastic opportunity! I connected with such a wide variety of visitors, who I still have relationships with to this day. I was extremely lucky to have been selected for this prestigious platform and would sincerely encourage all to apply…..and visit!

Flora Battachary: My biggest memory was my reaction to the announcement that I’d won the One Year on Award.  I was whisked off to have my photo taken and be interviewed for PR.  It was all very overwhelming and exciting and there was a lovely crowd of tutors, friends and family cheering me on as I accepted my award.

ceramics

Image credit: Olivia Walker

What opportunities did exhibiting at New Designers give you?

Leah Jensen: Both times I exhibited at New Designers I was very fortunate to be approached by amazing galleries that showed and sold my work, as I was straight out of university this was a really useful introduction. Last year I gave a talk with Natalie Melton, a director at The New Craftsmen, we discussed my making process, inspirations and future work. Up until then I would have never imagined I would have the confidence to do anything like that, so once the scary bit was over I felt so pleased with the achievement.

Olivia Walker: Directly through participating in One Year On I exhibited in Mint as part of London Design Festival and I have an exhibition coming up at the New Ashgate Gallery. I made a number of direct sales and gained new collectors and established relationships with a number of different galleries and organisations.

Samantha Donaldson: New Designers gives you a taste of and prepares you for all the different people you are about to come across in your exciting career and allows you to realise the extensive opportunities on offer to help your business grow. Buyers, collectors, galleries, interior designers, architects, the list is endless! I also found the talks from The Design Trust extremely valuable and still refer back to them now.

Flora Battachary: I think it was confirmation to me that the route I had taken during my MA was the right way to go.  It gave me the confidence to then go and approach retailer and buyers knowing that I had that affirmation behind me.

Glas

Image Credit: Samantha Donaldson

Why should you visit New Designers?

Leah Jensen: The thing that I love most about New Designers is the fresh approach to using new materials and techniques that can be found, or existing ones for that matter, but executed in innovative ways.

Olivia Walker: My favourite thing about visiting New Designers is the range of different work on show. It is such a mixture of mediums and styles that you are guaranteed to see work that is unexpected and ambitious. It is also just a really good chance to talk to people. All the exhibitors were so open to conversations about what they do and the public that visit are very engaged and supportive.

Flora Battachary: To see all the amazing work that comes out of our universities each year – and to keep up with new ideas!

Ceramics

Image credit: Leah Jensen

What advice would you give to those preparing to exhibit in One Year On 2017? 

Leah Jensen: This may sounds like an obvious piece of advice but for me it’s always crucial when preparing for a show. Take a bit of time and plan out what you need to do and what you need to bring and prioritise into categories so you can see what is most urgent and what will require the most amount of time. This is the only way I am able to clear the white noise in my head and complete things quickly and calmly without forgetting anything!

Olivia Walker: My advice would be to plan carefully in the weeks before the exhibition. Make sure you have your space designed well and the pieces made in good time. Once this is all done just try to enjoy the experience. It was the conversations which were the most important part of exhibiting so the more time you stand by your work and the more people you engage with the better.

Samantha Donaldson: My advice to those preparing to exhibit would be; Even if that one source you were hoping for doesn’t contact you immediately, you are most definitely now on their radar. So make sure you follow up, follow up, follow up! I wrote down every single person I was lucky enough to meet, I noted what we spoke about and their main interests and most importantly took their business cards and their information.

Jewellery

Image credit: Flora Battachary

What are you up to now in your career?  Do you have any exciting plans or projects you’d like to tell us about?

Leah Jensen: Last September I was extremely pleased to win the Clear Insurance award at Cockpit Arts, which means I now have a studio space at their Deptford site. I absolutely love working there, the support they give is fantastic and the other makers are lovely. Currently I am very excited to be working on my first solo show that will be at The New Craftsmen as part of London Craft Week, at the beginning of May. I am using paintings which can be found in The National Galleries’ Sainsbury wing, as I wanted the chance to be able to look at the detail of the paintings up close.

Olivia Walker: I am currently working on an exciting collaborative project designing a more commercial range which I am hoping to launch late summer.

Samantha Donaldson: Now, 10 years on from beginning my design studies, after successfully surviving my MA at the Royal College of Art in 2012, I continue to design, make, exhibit and experiment with the material I became infatuated with. If I could pick out my highlights since my journey began, it would have to be; working with the Set Director at Pinewood Studios designing and making stunning glass props for the James Bond film Spectre. Featuring in ‘Collective Genius’ amongst International talented artists at London’s Notting Hill Gallery VESSEL and receiving a heart warming testimonial from proud owner of my work Sir James Dyson. I am proud as punch to currently be preparing for one of my dream goals, to exhibit in the Saatchi Gallery with the Crafts Council’s International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects:COLLECT 2017, represented by VESSEL Gallery I was overwhelmed to be invited.

Flora Battachary: I’m working on a new fine jewellery collection at the moment, and getting ready for an exciting exhibition in the spring this year – so watch this space!