Seran Asta saggar firing group

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Arts University Plymouth graduate Seran Asta creates awards for DBI Grand BAME Gala

Arts University Plymouth sponsors the Diversity Business Incubator’s Gala and Grand BAME Business Conference
<p dir="ltr">26-year-old <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Seran Asta</a> is a First Class BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts (now <a href="">BA (Hons) Craft &amp; Material Practice</a>) graduate from Arts University Plymouth. For the second year running, Seran has been commissioned by the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Diversity Business Incubator</a> (DBI) to create the awards for their annual <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Grand BAME Gala</a>, celebrating the achievements of BAME businesses in Plymouth and the surrounding area.</p> <p dir="ltr">Founded by Jabo Butera and David Feindouno in 2018 to aid established and aspiring entrepreneurs from ethnic communities, the DBI provides guidance and support to businesses, self-employed people and non-profit organisations in Plymouth and the South West. Every year the DBI runs the Grand BAME Gala as a focal point of its work and platform for individuals and organisations to be recognised for their positive contributions in the region.<br /></p>
Seran Asta headshot

Seran Asta

<p dir="ltr">Arts University Plymouth sponsors the Grand BAME Gala and on Friday 2 February from 10am until 4pm will host the <a href="">Grand BAME Business Conference</a>, which this year has the theme ‘More Than Numbers: The Enduring Influence of Ethnic Entrepreneurs on Our City's Fabric’.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tim Gundry, Assistant Dean for Student Experience at Arts University Plymouth, said: “We’re very excited to welcome the Grand BAME Business Conference to our university for 2024, supporting the DBI’s work to build a coalition for positive change in the city and helping to connect local leaders in business and education.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As a University that is committed to improving access to Higher Education and creating excellent outcomes for our graduates, we're always looking for opportunities to ensure that our students develop skills that will contribute to the local business community. Supporting a rich ecosystem for local employment is the best way to ensure that our students can graduate and enter a diverse network of business opportunities and vibrant cultural enterprise.”<br /></p>
Seran Asta Wonder Ceramic Pot detail
Seran Asta Wonder Ceramic Pot 2
Seran Asta pot like1

"Wonder Ceramic Pot" - Seran Asta

<p dir="ltr">Arts University Plymouth has also supported the creation of awards for the Gala by giving graduate Seran Asta access to its industry-standard workshops and technical resources.</p> <p dir="ltr">Seran said: “Working with the DBI has been a fabulous experience. The first year that we worked together I was mindful that I needed to design something that captured the mission and values of the DBI as well as reflecting my own identity as an artist and designer. It was a challenging commission, but I’m reassured that they asked me to recreate the awards for a second year, and they’ve been a lovely client to work with.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Born in London, Seran also lived in Bristol as a child before her family settled in Birmingham. Seran says that she knew from the age of 12 that she wanted to work with her hands, which led her to complete A-Levels in Product Design, Philosophy &amp; Ethics, and Science, before studying a Level 1 Diploma in Carpentry for a year after leaving school.<br /></p>
Seran Asta whitewash 42x42cm

"Whitewash" 42x42cm - Seran Asta

<p dir="ltr">“My father was a property manager and landlord,” Seran said. “Knowing that I enjoyed practical work, he encouraged me to take an interest in carpentry because he knew there’d always be work for someone with those kinds of skills.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I really enjoyed learning to work closely with wood and after completing my carpentry qualification I wanted to investigate my passion for materials further. I began looking at universities across the UK for degrees that combined those kinds of practical, material skills with a certain artistic flair. When I saw that Arts University Plymouth could offer ceramics, glass, metalwork and wood all in the same degree, I knew that I’d found what I was looking for.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“It helped that I’d also reached a point in my life where I needed to move out and live independently. I travelled down to Plymouth for an Open Day and as soon as I got off the coach people were friendly and welcoming. The friendliness, the fantastic facilities within Arts University Plymouth and seeing the city itself were enough to make this my first choice of university.”<br /></p>
When I started, I didn’t have any preconceived notions of what I would get out of the degree. I knew that I needed to play and try new things. There was a lot of freedom to experiment and create, which helped me to begin to specialise in ceramics and wood by the final year of my degree. Those two materials are still my passion now.
Seran Asta, BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts graduate
<p>Seran took up her place at Arts University Plymouth intending to try working with as many materials as possible and learn more about what she enjoyed and was good at.<br /><br />"When I started, I didn’t have any preconceived notions of what I would get out of the degree. I knew that I needed to play and try new things. There was a lot of freedom to experiment and create, which helped me to begin to specialise in ceramics and wood by the final year of my degree. Those two materials are still my passion now."<br /><br />Seran was in her final-year when the Covid pandemic began, disrupting her plans and leading her in a new direction.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Everything about my creative practice was turned on its head during the first lockdown. Working with physical materials was my passion, but I wasn’t able to investigate in the same way working in my rented accommodation, so I moved into photography and digital photo manipulation to express myself in new ways. The disruption of Covid forced me to reappraise my art, so I used photography as an exploration of my blackness and a way to see myself in a different light.”<br /></p>
Seran Asta saggar pot 2
Seran Asta saggar pot
Seran Asta saggar firing group

"Saggar Pots" - Seran Asta

<p dir="ltr">After graduating from Arts University Plymouth and being assessed on her digital and photographic work, Seran wanted to return to the ceramics studio and continue her material investigations. When she saw an advert inviting graduates to volunteer their time as Workshop Assistants in exchange for time in the studios accessing Arts University Plymouth resources, Seran jumped at the opportunity.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When I saw a way to get back in the ceramics studio, I signed up straight away. Arts University Plymouth is my happy place. Having the freedom to make and play and experiment with ceramics is an outlet that makes me happy.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In late 2022 Seran heard from BA (Hons) Craft &amp; Material Practice Course Leader Gayle Matthias that the DBI wanted to commission an artist to create the awards for their Grand BAME Gala.<br /></p>
Seran Asta stonehenge crop

"Stonehenge" - Seran Asta

<p dir="ltr">“I pitched to them and ended up designing and making the first iteration of those awards in 2023, Seran said, “which was a fantastic experience. The DBI wanted a design that could symbolise community and togetherness. I created a mould to slip cast a ceramic shape, which I then mounted on wood and finished in black and gold to match some of the vibrancy that they use in their branding.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I made eight awards in total, for that first year, and was thrilled that they liked the design so much they asked me to return and do the same again for 2024. Since graduating I’ve alternated between primarily working in joinery and maintaining time to pursue my creative practice around that. Knowing that I have the support of the DBI has really boosted my confidence and helped me to start thinking about the next stage of my journey and what I need to do to progress creatively and technically.”</p>
Seran Asta wonder 42x42cm

"Wonder" 42cm x 42cm - Seran Asta

<p dir="ltr">Reflecting on her creative practice to date, Seran said: “I love working with ceramics and with wood. Something about the texture and tactile nature of the materials really appeals to me. You can put a dent in a soft piece of clay and it stays. You chisel out a piece of wood and you can’t put it back. You work deliberately and hope that the material turns out the way that you expect, but sometimes it will surprise you. Push too hard, chisel too much, then you continue working to see where it goes.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“I love to make. Everything that I create feels like something that needs to come out, and the end result is a product of that feeling and the place I was in my life when I created it. Making is something that I need to do, for my own happiness, and I’m thrilled to have worked with the DBI and returned to the studios to help create awards for such a good cause.”</p>