Master makers
emerging designers make Rising Stars shortlist

Five Master’s students and graduates from the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) are among the nominees for Rising Stars 2024, a celebration of emerging makers in crafts, design, and applied arts.

29 Feb 2024

Rachael Plassard, Jess Skelton, Choi Chi Wing, Suluk Khalvati and Taylor Shaw were picked alongside 27 others from more than 160 entrants.  

MA Jewellery graduate Rachael has a maximalist approach to design, and weaves personal narratives and symbolism into her work, currently exploring the theme of memory: the gradual fade, disruption, fragility, and power. She layers up decorative surfaces and combining various techniques, including etching, roller printing, gold plating and oxidising.

©Rachael Plassard

Also studying MA Jewellery, Suluk’s collection – The Snail’s Orientation to Life – was inspired by the revolutionary movement taking place in Iran. Through a fluidity of design and the properties of metal, Suluk emphasises femininity and humanity’s struggle to pursue freedom.

From MA Ceramics, graduate Jess makes semi-abstract sculptures that start life as vessels, using glaze as structure and surface decoration. She is attracted to what lies beneath the shiny veneers in society and draws on her maritime heritage, incorporating found objects relating to the sea. 

©Jess Skelton

Meanwhile, Chinese student Choi Chi Wing explores the struggles of leaving a hometown and building a second home through her ceramics. Their feelings around connection and disconnection are expressed through form, colour, and texture.

Taylor, another recent graduate of the MA Ceramics course, makes hand-thrown functional tableware and contemporary vessels – sculpted and glazed by hand. Her piece, the Broken Chain reflects strength and fragility and explores feelings surrounding grief and familial bonds.

All five were chosen by a panel of craft professionals, including UCA’s Programme Director for Textiles, Sharon Ting, Dan Goode of Making Goode, and Dr Outi Remes, the Director of New Ashgate Gallery.

Sharon said: “I was delighted to see such a breadth of applications to this year’s open call and reassured by the entrepreneurial and innovative design on display. It is good to see strong, individual, aesthetic vision is alive and well among young designers today.”

An exhibition of the shortlisted finalists’ work takes place at New Ashgate Gallery from 16 March. At a private view on 15 March, the winner will be awarded a £1,000 professional development award and a solo exhibition at New Ashgate in 2025.