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Fungi sculpture wins
Surrey Sculpture Society Prize

2022 BA Fine Art graduate and sculptor, Melissa Goldswain, has won the Surrey Sculpture Society (SSS) Sculpture Prize for Students.

21 Jul 2022

The competition was open to UCA Farnham’s third-year Fine Art sculpture students who were asked to submit proposals that showed imaginative use of 3D materials, rigorous and effective application of sculptural language, and creative use of technical process and fabrication.

SSS said the competition aimed to assist emerging artists with their future careers as professional artists and for all society to benefit from their innovative approaches to exploring sculptural expression.

Out of seven entries, the judges chose Melissa’s sculptural work, Hyphignón, as the winner.

The judges, Nick Baker and Abby Martin, Chair and Vice-Chair of the SSS, said: “We felt that Melissa's work was instantly pleasing to the eye and her concept is relevant to current concerns regarding the health of our planet - the fundamental interdependence of all life forms.”

“[The viewer] will find a coherent and intriguing message about the inter-relationship between the human and "natural" world, [and get the chance] to make their own musical language through interacting with the cymbals.”

Melissa added: “I couldn't believe that they saw so much potential in my work. It is an incredible opportunity and makes all the hard work worth it. It feels surreal but at the same time incredibly validating as an artist and gives me the drive to keep going.”

Hyphignón, by Melissa Goldswain. Photo by Elliot J Goldswain

Hyphignón is a word Melissa created to name her own fantastical language that’s designed to help humans live more harmoniously with nature.  It explores how we can be more connected to nature, and the unseen ways in which the flora and fauna communicate with one another.

“I’m inspired by my adoration for nature, its intricate workings, and my continual desire to learn about it. The work itself is a collection of steel mushroom cymbals accompanied by abstract music scores,” explained Melissa. 

“The idea is for the viewer to interpret the music score using the mushroom cymbals and through this experience of playing they can communicate with mycelium - the roots of communication between plants.”

The judges liked how Melissa’s sculpture theorised how if we could only learn the universal language of plants, then we would strengthen and develop and relationship with the rest of the planet.

Melissa won £500 and SSS membership for a year, as well as free admission for one piece of sculptural work to a Surrey Sculpture Society exhibition next year. Melissa plans to use the money to help kit out her own workshop where she can continue to make sculptures.

The runner-up was Zayd Menk, whose piece, [4.0⌂I� ̱ ̜ ͕ ͙ ͍ ̠̒ ̏ΙO�̖̪̣͕̜̘̅̓̕'"_-  explored the myriad of concerns within modern consumer technology. It was commended for its “strength of artistry”.

The judges commented: “Zayd hints at a general apathy towards the invasion of our ‘human’ lives by technology - much of which is essentially extraneous to a ‘happy’ life. There is a great deal of thought behind what initially presents as a room full of scrap and broken machines.

“He nicely balances the individual interaction with technology with the broader consequences on the planet. He deftly touches on the full spectrum of resource exploitation - natural, human, and emotional - and the cynical way in which consumerism seeks to affect our daily choices.”

The judges added: “We thought all the submissions had great merit and were very strong contenders. Each had a robust back-story which gave genuine interest and a degree of verisimilitude which drew us into their thoughts. The quality of all their work is a testament to both them and UCA for nurturing these nascent artists”.

Zayd also won SSS membership for a year, as well as free admission for one piece of sculptural work to a Surrey Sculpture Society exhibition next year

If you are interested in studying Fine Art at UCA, visit our course pages.

To visit one of the Surrey Sculpture Society’s sculpture trails this summer, visit their website.