Art Students are Wild and Green

Traditionally, art colleges have shows for graduate students to display final year projects. Often these are wild and wacky, and a chance to see the seeds of ideas that may grow into something big later on. The Royal College of Art is the pre-eminent art school and this year they had a huge tent full of visionary thinking. We start with a bona fide treehugger (pictured) whose aim is to encourage people to engage with trees. His project stems from this fascination with them and the fact that one can hear the sound of water inside the trunk, as it is being pulled up from the roots to the leaves. He invented a tree listening device, based on the same principle as the stethoscope, and has projected the sound through headphones. FYI, it sounds like a gentle rumble. Inside the tent we discovered a bicycle with folding handlebars--fabulous for storing bicycles in hallways. Another creation was the collapsible bike wheel--also great for storage. Furniture included the weave stool, a stool made out of a single laminated element, and strong enough to sit on. This one could easily make it to the design stores. A bracket chair is simple and minimalist, focusing on its components. And then there is the stitched chair, made of Kevlar, cut out of a pattern, stitched and inflated.
Jewellery is equally inventive: a necklace and bangle bracelet made out of pencils which are glued together. The artist has created her own hallmark on them (pictured). Once perfected, they are sure to be a hit. Another sweet piece is sugar crystal jewellery: made out of sugar crystals which are grown around strings. They look like quartz but must be worn discerningly. Another sure to be hit is the collapsible bird house, made out of plastic, which turns into a hanging bird house with seeds. The Carbon Hero is a sensor that will measure carbon footprints. The pollution levels in the most polluted city in the world, Linfen, China were compared with the world's purest in NW Tasmania, by showing water from both cities (shocking differences in clarity) and photo albums of the residents (not so different looking). On a domestic note: a garbage can which combines functions by having a dustpan/broom lid and a large broom that incorporates a ring to hang a kitchen towel. And a shower curtain printed with heat sensitive ink that reacts to water and loses its colours--to alert the person washing to water usage. We leave with some new cards to hand out: "You can't see when it's gone" and "I will consume only what I need". :: Royal College of Art Summer Show

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