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Page last updated at 11:21 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 12:21 UK
Colin Self designs mace for NUCA
BBC Norfolk's David Keller
By David Keller
BBC Norfolk

Colin Self

Internationally-renowned artist Colin Self, from Norfolk, is creating a new graduation mace for the Norwich University College of the Arts (NUCA).

With the mace currently being prototyped, its handle will resemble Norfolk reeds.

"I want it to be reminiscent of this beautiful place," said Colin.

The finished mace will appear at the University's graduation ceremony in St Andrews Hall, Norwich, on Thursday, 2 July, 2009.

The establishment wanted a new mace to follow their appointment as a university college from the Norwich School of Art and Design in August 2008.

"We chose Colin to design the mace because he has an international reputation as a fine artist and is an ex-student from the old Norwich School of Art and Design," said David Girling from NUCA.

"He is also an honorary doctor of the University College and as such, has had a good working relationship with us for a long time," he added.

Creating a mace

Initially, Colin was unsure whether he would enjoy the challenge of creating a mace.

"I started researching maces and the history of the mace. I looked through some old Christies' catalogues of ancient Assyrian maces and North American Red Indian maces and they're the most fearsome weapons," he said.

The Norwich University College of the Arts (NUCA) graduation mace being cast
Technicians Pete Blunsden and Wayne McKinney carefully pour a cast

"The more I looked at them I thought, why on earth would I want to create that," he added.

Recalling distinct childhood memories provided the perfect inspiration.

"In the end I just came up with the idea of grabbing a handful of Norfolk reeds, because it was more pacifist and more to do with nature and the Norfolk of my childhood," said Colin.

The mace is still in its preliminary stage of casting and construction, with many ideas being experimented with at the university.

Choosing what to place on top of the Norfolk reeds is proving difficult.

"I felt using bronze for the construction would work best - I liked the idea of it, but I've still not decided what I want on top of the mace," said Colin.

"I would like to do some simple symbolic sculpture like a castle or lions, or something to represent Norwich.

"Another idea is where at the top of the reeds, which open out to a trumpet, is to have bumblebees that lead to a castle mound and two lions.

The handle of the mace will resemble Norfolk's water reeds

"But it's not as easy to design something to look rugged and as though it has always been there!"

Other ideas for the top of the mace include a silver sphere and images of famous Norfolk people, including Abraham Lincoln, whose family originate in Swanton Morley near Dereham.

The university college is is happy with the mace's progress from a vision into elegant prototypes and they are confident the completed work will be a resounding success.

"With the new mace we can represent our strong local roots and history, whilst through our association with Colin, our international role and profile," said David Girling.

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