Aidan Madden, Winner of the Winterson Prize 2018

Aidan Madden was announced as the winner of the 2018 Winterson Prize for the Best Use of Pearls at Central Saint Martins, London last night, where degree collections from jewellery's future stars went on display.

The influential arts institute’s annual graduate show saw students presenting original pearl pieces, created with advice and support from Winterson Director Andrew Fraser and Creative Director Alice Cicolini.

Aidan Madden was named this year’s winner of the Winterson Pearl prize for his collection of single earrings, each finely crafted from freshwater pearls. Aidan has painstakingly fused together, carved and finely lathe-turned the pearls into a series of gently humorous jewels.

Aidan-Madden-Face

Image 1: Arm, by Aidan Madden
Image 2: Face, by Aidan Madden

Aidan's studs reference pop cultural themes from Disney to Alien, using a gemstone that is more commonly associated with classicism and aristocracy. His craftsmanship and attention to detail gives the results a subtlety and delicacy that ensures his work stands out from similar concepts.

Aidan described his collection to us: “I did not start this project with any preconceptions of the pearl. As soon as I started to cut and join them, their playful pearl faces begin to appear and it seemed that the approach had infinite potential to create a diverse and accessible series of earrings.”

Aidan-Madden-Bug-Eye_2

Image 1: Bug Eye, by Aidan Madden
Image 2: Cube, by Aidan Madden
Image 3: Pink and Yellow, by Aidan Madden

Squared studs and alien heads reveal some of the production process behind the creation of freshwater pearls, with visible nacre standing in for ethereal eyes, and the edges of squares retaining the peacock dyes that have been used to colour the pearl.

Aidan-Madden-Pearl-Culture

Image: Pearl Culture, by Aidan Madden

Exquisite carved pearl crowns sit on top of ghostly heads, caterpillars of pearls wrap around to create unique hoops and cartoon characters that are rendered in a fine balance of coloured pearls.

Caroline Broadhead, BA Jewellery Design Course Leader commented "Aidan has investigated different ways of splicing and carving pearls to allow a view through the outer layer of nacre to the pearl on the inside. The collection is small scale and intimate and on close inspection, there is much wit and pleasure in the way he has combined colours and created associations. It is a delightful body of work celebrating the cultured pearl."

Aidan-Madden-Hoop

Images: Hoop, by Aidan Madden

Commenting on the award, Winterson's Creative Director Alice Cicolini said "We are delighted to celebrate Aidan's intensive investigation of the language of pearl jewellery. Our prize is for innovation with pearls and it was wonderful to see how many students really embraced that idea this year. It was Aidan's commitment to the gemstone as the starting point for his creative exploration that really stood out for us. We are excited to see where this journey takes him - and our perceptions of what a pearl jewel can be."

Each year the prize celebrates an appreciation and understanding of the qualities of the pearl. With such an original and diverse group of work this year, Aidan was an excellent winner. Congratulations Aidan!

Read more about Aidan Madden and the other CSM designers' work here.