Jay Blades MBE opens BNU’s Creative Futures Week

Jay Blades MBE opens BNU’s Creative Futures Week

Buckinghamshire New University’s Creative Futures Week opened on Monday 30 January with a special appearance from the University’s Chancellor Jay Blades MBE. The workshop entitled ‘A Journey into Craft and Design’ marked the first in a string of events organised by the School of Art, Design and Performance.

Creative Futures Week has been running at BNU since 2020, hosting a number of workshops and talks from industry professionals on topical issues including sustainability, responsible fashion, the impact of design on wellbeing, and how innovative materials are being created in response to global challenges.

Introduced by event organiser Professor Sri-Kartini Leet, Head of School for Art, Design and Performance, this year’s event was launched by Jay Blades MBE, with a talk on his early life, his time at BNU and his creative career journey.

He said: “My time at University was breathtakingly important to me. My advice to students today is to experience everything. Take in all of the knowledge you can outside of your own area. I learned to think outside the box here. I didn’t know what life was before I came to BNU.”


Jay also discussed his time living in High Wycombe and how the University supported him in starting his own charity which centred on restoring furniture as a way to bring people together and tackle segregation.

The furniture-making history of High Wycombe is not lost on Jay. He said: “The history is here. This town was known world over for its creatives. I’ll do everything I can to shine the spotlight on High Wycombe again.”

Jay Blades draws on a flipchart

Jay then hosted a design clinic where members of the University community brought sentimental items from home for Jay to provide upcycling advice on.

Wendy Binmore, an attendee at the event, brought a Windsor chair which has been in her family for at least four generations, surviving two house fires.

Wendy said: “Despite its age, this chair was used by my dad every day and we always knew it as “Dad’s chair.” When he died, we had to store it in the shed and it unfortunately suffered more damage.

“Dad loved The Repair Shop and always said he’d love to get the chair restored on the show, so I thought this was a great opportunity to get some expert advice. The chair has some cracks in the seat which I was concerned about, but Jay explained how we can repair it ourselves. Jay suggested shotblasting the chair to get rid of the fire damaged varnish, rubbing down and removing the legs so that the cracks could be filled with glue. He then said it would be good to use oil to preserve it to keep the original colour of the wood.

“It’s a beautiful chair and I think dad would be so chuffed to know we’re going to restore it.”

Jay Blades inspects the Windsor chair