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Jewellery & Metal (MA)

Banita Mistry

Banita Mistry is a jeweller & artist. Her work explores themes of technology, environment, and adornment to explore the human condition.  

After completing her BA at the University of Cambridge in English Literature & Education, Banita practiced as a lawyer in London. She commenced her career as a jeweller in 2012 after training at the British Academy of Jewellery (formerly Holts) and working for internationally renowned jewellers, Alex Monroe, and Ruth Tomlinson. Banita has been a trustee for the Hand Engravers Association of Great Britain and consultant to the Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council. 

Recent projects include the iAtelier Maker programme with the Crafts Council UK and ceramicist Charly Blackburn (2021/22), and an augmented reality project with Snap Inc & the RCA (2023).

Banita was awarded The Behrens Trust Scholarship (RCA, 2022). She creates art and jewellery under her brand Foreign Body.


Special thanks to:

The Behrens Trust


Degree Details

School of Arts & HumanitiesJewellery & Metal (MA)RCA2023 at Battersea and Kensington

RCA Battersea, Woo Building, First and third floors

Silhouette of artist against a painting of a blue circle, holding a smart phone which seems to be transparent.

In an era of rapidly evolving technology, Banita is compelled by its impact on the human condition. It is this interplay that drives her artistic and material research as she seeks to depict the enigmatic intersection between reality, virtuality, and our boundless imaginations.

Challenges to human perception have historically caused shifts in the sciences, arts, and spirituality. Human environments visibly expanded on microscopic and interstellar levels, and consequently, the granularity of space, time and materiality dramatically unfolded. Today human perception is on the cusp of yet another inflection point. Virtual existences, augmented realities, and artificial intelligence intersecting at increasing speeds, tease human perception and sense of self.

Banita’s work invites viewers to contemplate the profound ways in which technology has become intertwined with our existence and ecologies, influencing our perception of space, body, and time. Central to her exploration lies a curiosity about how we shape and navigate environments and identity, with a special interest in Asian / Desi futurism. From the intimate confines of a ring and the depths of blank screens to virtual worlds and the diasporic object, these spaces embody the metaphysical dichotomies of presence and absence, the visible and the concealed.

Portraits of a Spectacle

Step into a realm where the smart phone is regarded beyond its prescribed role, emerging as an immersive environment, a figurative passport, an autonomous or spiritual entity, and a form of adornment. You are invited to contemplate the spectacle of profound multiplicities embedded within this ubiquitous everyday object.

Regarded as being ‘useless’ as smart phones, these creations are simulacra – acting as spectacles through which to explore the changing perceptions of value, social expression, sentimentality, and materiality. Drawing parallels with traditional silverware, these smart phone sculptures propose a shift in what is considered aspirational in a globalised, contemporary culture.

By observing our relationship with technology and its integration with our lives, the work seeks to challenge the accepted paradigms associated with adornment and invites a fresh perspective.

The subtle knife, also known as Æsahættr (meaning the God-Destroyer) was a double-bladed knife which could slice through the fabric between the worlds of the multiverse, opening portals between them -- From The Northern Lights Trilogy by Philip Pullman


The collection is comprised of 15 simulacra.

Sterling silver iphone shape with the apps as the UK London Assay Office Hallmarks
9 to 5 (Society of the Spectacle)This piece examines the parallels between product and commerce regulation in the tech industry and the goldsmithing industry. In the UK, the Assay Offices maintain control over the sale of precious metals by requiring standardised hallmarking based on industry guidelines. Likewise, Apple exercises rigorous control over the creation and launch of iOS applications through their standardised developer guidelines and systems. Sterling silver 70 x 150mm
Smartphone shaped aluminium object which turns into a fluid, octopus-like shape.
Cell"People don't realise — we are already a cyborg because we are so well integrated with our phones and our computers. The phone is almost like an extension of yourself. If you forget your phone, it's like a missing limb." - Elon Musk (c.2019) Anodised Aluminium
Photocopied image of a mobile affixed on the corner of two intersecting walls.
Black Square “In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.” ― Guy Debord
Steel smartphone shaped object which continues beyond the bottom of the phone in strips suggesting that the object is endless.
Endless Scroll Steel
Laptop shaped object made of metal sheet - golden in colour, with a gap where the touch pad should be
Fool's Gold Brass
Steel phone object with lines cut through it and held up with a hand
MultiverseSteel, auxetics
Smartphone shaped object in black which looks like it is constructed of layers suggesting depth
Deep TimeCard, silver.
Green patinated smartphone shaped object.
Deep Time II Patina on gilding metal

Jewellery as crime

Graffiti compels one to fleetingly pause and observe spaces and objects that would otherwise be overlooked. The brick ledge along a rail track, the bottom corner of a wall or the discreet sign in the park are transformed into canvases.

Through highlighting un-regarded spaces with gold leaf, discreet voids become canvases that hold narrative. As an engagement ring can serve as a symbol of intent and commitment to passing eyes, the application of this ornament to un-seen spaces serves to provoke thought, encourage closer observation, and instigate a human connection with the environment.

This project takes a critical look at the 1908 essay by Adolf Loos – Ornament and Crime, through the lens of adornment as ornament. A highly controversial and influential essay (being a key proponent in the Bauhaus movement) these works are an exploration of how humans imprint onto the environment, and vice versa, playing with the meaning of adornment and jewellery.

Since ornament is no longer organically linked with our culture, it is also no longer the expression of our culture. The ornament that is manufactured today has no connexion with us, has absolutely no human connexions, no connexion with the world order --Ornament and crime, Adolf Loos (1908)
Gold leaf applied to the casting indentation mark in the concrete wall.
Ornament IHighlighted casting marks in the concrete walls of Woo Building, Battersea.
Gold leaf on white walls with a square of gold leaf detached from the main body and attached to the foot of the wall
Ornament IIGold leaf used to conceal markings on the wall. Gold leaf at the foot of the wall to emphasise the gap between the floor and the wall.
Steel pole with a ring attached to it
Wearable wallsA ring designed for, and affixed to the walls, inviting wearers to try on the Royal College of Art for size.
A4 Gold leaf poster applied directly onto the wall beside the designated poster space at the RCA.
Designated poster space
Person wearing a 2D necklace stylised like graffiti. the face is censored.
"We have outgrown ornament; we have fought our way through to freedom from ornament"Adolf Loos (1908)
Post-it notes covered in graffiti affixed to a wall.
Temporary graffiti
Copper sticky note amidst a wall covered in yellow sticky notes
Temporary graffiti in metal
Copper post it with hole peeled back
Copper sticky note

Nature Abhors a Vacuum

A dent in the metal railings just off Brick Lane was discovered. A void, distinct from the other voids.

What came through it?

In the language of the environment, characteristic of Brick Lane, a graffiti object was created to fill this void in the railings.

Opportunistic or repair?

From a two-dimensional act to a three-dimensional sculpture, a hand drawn scrawl was given depth and body, now existing on another plane.

A foreign body.

Etched onto this sculpture is Bangladesh - a nod to the Bangladeshi community that settled in and enriched Brick Lane and its surrounds. Like their Irish, Jewish and Huguenot predecessors, immigration finds, fills, and enriches the voids in our communities.

Nature abhors a vacuum.  

Gap in railings filled with a frosted acrylic laser cut shape of a scribble to emulate graffiti. Object has image of Bangladesh
Horror Vacui 1 Frosted
Gap in railings filled with a clear acrylic laser cut shape of a scribble to emulate graffiti. Object has image of Bangladesh
Horror Vacui 2Clear

Towards the blue light

Beneath each painting lie multiple paintings, layered upon one another. Each painting was created with a view of being stand alone and final, making the act of painting over each one, challenging, and therefore absolutely necessary.

Inspired by the layering and impermanence of virtual spaces and information, the layered paintings are reflective of a proliferation on one canvas / screen / device. The paintings are continual acts, only halted by a blue and definite circular shape, bringing stillness to the flux of the canvas. A blue light – the shortest and highest energy wavelength in the visible light spectrum. Emitted from our screens, blue light boosts attention, reaction times, attentiveness.

An awakened state.

Attachment, accumulation, and ego were the enemies. Like the process of creating mandalas, customary in Hindu and Buddhist practices, the process of painting over each layer reflects a search for order and truth. Instead of creating two-dimensional, concentric movements towards the centre like traditional mandalas, the paintings move on a different plane, creating depth and progressing away from the canvas. These acts of painting over painting, repetition and erasure are acts of growth, understanding and movement towards a truth.

This is the centre of the ring. This is me.  

Abstract painting of black and white acrylic and henna patterns layered upon one another with a large blue circle painted over.
Blue Light 1 Acrylic, mendhi on canvas. 510 x 770mm
Abstract painting of black and white acrylic and henna patterns layered upon one another with a large blue circle painted over.
Blue Light 2 Acrylic, sterling silver leaf, charcoal on canvas 510 x 770mm

The Behrens Trust Scholarship