Press Release

Finding beauty in the rubble of one of Scotland’s deprived areas

Published on 18 June 2020

While an Englishman's home may be his castle, a Scottish woman’s home is her close, according to a University of Dundee student raised by two generations of strong women in one of the country’s most deprived areas.

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Image of Hayley Irving's rings

While an Englishman's home may be his castle, a Scottish woman’s home is her close, according to a University of Dundee student raised by two generations of strong women in one of the country’s most deprived areas. 

Hayley Irving (25) is one of around 300 exhibitors at the Art, Design and Architecture Graduate Showcase 2020. She grew up in Glasgow’s Possilpark area, which served as the inspiration for her final-year Jewellery and Metal Design project. 

Initially looking to tell a story of pride in growing up in an often-maligned working class community, Hayley went on to develop a new collection of unique and colourful jewellery that was also influenced by the tenement where she lived with her mother and grandmother, and her experiences of being raised in an all-female household. 

Possilpark suffered a loss of local industries during the late 1970s, leading to high unemployment levels and social decline. The area is now commonly associated with crime, drug abuse and poverty. Many of the old tenements have been flattened, leaving abandoned wastelands and derelict buildings. 

Inspired by the surroundings she remembers from her childhood, Hayley brings Possilpark’s fragile exterior to life in bold and colourful statement rings, earrings, and a brooch, made with alternative materials such as wood, resin and jesmonite. 

“I think my love for alternative materials comes from growing up in Possilpark,” said Hayley. 

“Every day when I walked to school, I passed abandoned buildings, places that were decaying, and graffiti. Possilpark was, and still is, a place filled with poverty. But I can see beauty in objects others may regard as rubbish. I turn unconventional materials into something beautiful. 

“The graffiti, in a strange way, brightened up Possilpark. It was a splash of colour in an otherwise dull area. The bright and colourful jewellery pieces are a nod to that.” 

Originally built as affordable housing for a population that grew rapidly as a result of the Industrial Revolution, Scotland’s tenements have been home to traditional, or nuclear, families for generations, where men would be seen heading out to work while women were typically homemakers. For Hayley, however, tenement living was non-conventional. 

“I think there is a sense of pride to be from Possilpark, regardless of what anyone thinks of the area, but my main pride lies within growing up being raised by incredibly strong hard-working women.” she continued. 

“In traditional tenement flats the men were the sole providers for the family but that was not the case for me. I grew up in a tenement flat with two other generations of women. My gran was widowed very young and never remarried, and my mum had me at the age of 16. 

“My gran worked two jobs and my mum was always working a lot to provide for us. No matter what happened, we got on with things.” 

With the use of sublimation printing, Hayley has utilised family photos to express her stories and memories of life in a female-dominated household, showcasing the tough exterior of Possilpark’s residents. 

“The pieces have as much been inspired by my mum and gran as they have by Possilpark’s dereliction,” she added. “They always made the best out of a bad situation, like I do with unconventional materials.” 

The Graduate Showcase is an online display taking place in the absence of the University’s annual Degree Show, which has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

It is hoped that a physical exhibition of work from this year’s graduating students can be arranged in the future and the Graduate Showcase aims to provide them with the best possible platform for their talents in the meantime. 

It celebrates achievements of graduating students from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and the department of Architecture within the School of Social Sciences. The work on display represents the culmination of years of creative development and hard work, with the website featuring expanded information on all students, including extra images and video content. 


Jessica Rorke

Media Relations Officer

+44 (0)1382 388878

Story category

DJCAD Degree Show