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University of Suffolk chooses winner in Mace competition

18 Jul 2019 12:15PM

Following a county-wide competition to develop the design of the University of Suffolk’s first ceremonial mace, a winner has been announced.

Elizabeth Martin from Halesworth will work with wood turner Darren Breeze to develop her design into the Mace, which will be used at this year’s graduation ceremonies in October.

Traditionally a ceremonial mace, is a highly ornamented staff of metal or wood, carried before a sovereign or other high officials in civic ceremonies by a mace-bearer, intended to represent the official's authority.

Processions often feature ceremonial maces, for example at parliamentary or formal academic occasions. Within higher education, a ceremonial mace has been a symbol of university scholarship and integrity since the 11th century.

Professor Helen Langton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Suffolk, said, “Being a young university, we wanted something traditional but with a modern twist. The judging panel liked the fact that Elizabeth’s design incorporated typically Suffolk symbols and associations but in a subtle way. The Mace will be predominantly carved from wood but parts will be made using our new state-of-the-art 3D printer. We are keen to demonstrate that as a University we are forward-thinking but keen to preserve and respect our county’s heritage.”

Elizabeth’s design features the sun rising over the sea and features the University’s iconic Question Mark. The three nut bolts symbolise Suffolk’s Trinity- the Suffolk Punch horse, Black Faced sheep and the Red Poll cattle.

Elizabeth said, “I always enjoy a bit of a challenge, something unusual. I heard the interview with the wood turner, Darren on BBC Radio Suffolk. I had met Darren before at an event and had seen his work. I thought I could design something that goes with his talents so sent in my design. I was delighted to hear that I had won the competition; it is a privilege to think I will be part of the history of the University and that the mace will be used for many years. I am looking forward to seeing the actual mace this autumn.”

Local craftsman Darren Breeze has been selected to work on the wooden mace. Darren runs Breeze Woodturning and is based in Lowestoft. He has been woodturning since 2007 and has won numerous awards and competitions for his outstanding work. In 2016, he won a first prize at Wizardry at Wood, and was accepted onto the register of professional turners in 2018.

Darren said, “The project will certainly be a challenge, Elizabeth’s design has lots of interesting features and we can incorporate a variety of materials including parts that will be made using the University’s new 3D printer. I am looking forward to getting started and then seeing it finished, and being used. It will be a huge privilege and a legacy for us both as the designer and the main maker, for our family, friends and everyone else to admire.”

The judging panel included Professor Langton, Darren, and Arts Editor at the East Anglian Daily Times, Andrew Clarke.

Entries were received from across the county, including a special handmade entry from four-year-old Sylvie. Mum Rebecca said, “Sylvie loved getting involved. She made her mace using essentials from her craft box, including pipe cleaners, ribbons and gems.”  As the youngest entrant in the competition, Sylvie was awarded a certificate and a small prize from the judges.

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