Thursday 9th – Sunday 12th May
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I recently spent the weekend at Desire in London surrounded by a wonderful collection of jewellery and silverware from some of the finest makers in the country. In the heart of Kensington the event has just moved into, hopefully, a new permanent home where it can grow and build up quite a following.
Besides the jewellery on show it was encouraging and inspiring to see so much silverware represented – British Silverweek brought a considerable amount of new talent with it to sit alongside more established makers like Andrew MacGowan and Esther Lord.
Showed a sumptuous little selection of her neat, smoothly curving vessels, off set by their jagged tops and beautifully tactile in form.
Brought this little vessel along – just look at the beautiful, intricate detailing on the lid:
it makes what could be quite a heavy piece feel delicate – and makes a lovely feature of the hinge.
and I had a quick chat with Kathrine Hinton who makes use of some wonderful new technologies (computer modelling, digital hammer blows and some very fine rapid prototyping) to produce tiny, detailed vessels and jewellery with surfaces that you just want to hold and explore:
Today I set my work up at Birmingham’s annual selling exhibition of contemporary jewellery and silverware. Centrepiece, now in it’s 15th year is a showcase for some of the best makers in the Jewellery Quarter and well worth a visit (though I say so myself …)
This year some new and guest designers have joined the show bringing in ideas about ethical gold, recycled work and some inventive use of new technologies. Here are a few of the highlights:
and a sneaky peak at what’s in my cabinet:
The show is open from Thursday 15th November until Sunday 23rd December from 10.30am – 8.30pm (or later) everyday and is staffed by the designers – so you just might be buying work straight from the hands that made it!
During the summer Angela Learoyd will be hosting a show in her beautiful Scottish gallery, filled with work that evokes the coast.
I was really excited to be asked to get involved – as the theme of the show matches the spirit of my work perfectly. There’s a wonderful selection of makers involved too:
The show runs from the 6th of July to the 1st of September in Angela’s Gallery in Doune, Scotland.
When I was in London for Jewellery Week I made some time to sneak down to one of my favourite parts of the city – the Victoria and Albert Museum. Over the summer it’s hosting a show for the Contemporary British Silversmith‘s Society entitled ‘Fit for Purpose‘.
At the back of the silver galleries is a delicious little case filled with contemporary silverware:
The show has an interesting concept given that, in the last century or so, the market for silver has changed so radically and the ‘purpose’ for which most silverware is now made has shifted. Gone are the days of large firms making household, utilitarian silverware and the market is now much more dominated by studio makers exploring the craft for private clients and small retailers.
The work on display is varied, from that clearly designed for a more traditional purpose – like Louise Mary‘s salad servers (utilitarian, but no less elegant for being so) to the intentionally conceptual pieces of Rajesh Gogna.
There’s also a beautiful piece of Kevin Grey‘s laser welded work, a stunning set of angular beakers from Mary Ann Simmons and a wonderful sculptural tray from Alex Ramsey, which bears her distinctive and delicate cut patterning spread across a form I’ve not seen before.
For a small case it’s a wonderful collection of work that’s well worth a visit – the show continues in the V&A silver galleries until the 16th of September 2012.
The newcomers section at this year’s British Craft Trade Fair was an especially vibrant and lovely place, filled with exciting ideas and makers keen to talk about their work and how their businesses are developing.
Emily Knight trained up in Glasgow and her work has a beautiful emphemeral quality about it. She displayed her distinctive silver and enamel pieces against hand drawn sketches – which looked so wondefully natural that you can’t help feeling that the walls were an extention of her sketchbook.
She’s got a wondeful eye for setting colours together without the enamels looking harsh and the fun, quirky details (like the little silver bicycles) makes them wonderful and light.
Then, just down the aisle from me was this lovely stand:
featuring work from Maneggi, who, well – has a thing for ribbons … and wonderfully sculptural things she does with them too. With a really sensitive eye for colour she combines ribbons and pearls into little wearable structures:
They have quite a soft, vintage feel which is given a classic edge by her use of the pearls and other beads that give form to her pieces.
And just one aisle over was the work of Karen Fox, another recent graduate with a passion for neat, structured pieces built up out of layers of texture. Her larger scale ruffle pieces (like the collar that you can just see on the left) wouldn’t look out of place at the ballet and have a defnite theatrical, Elizabethan flavour that makes you want to layer them up into giant sculptures.
The whole show catalogue is online here for you to get a flavour of just how much craft work was on show.
It was a truly stunning collection of work from new and established makers alike which gives me a lot of hope for the future of the creative industries in the UK – it’s really wonderful to be working in so vibrant a marketplace.
I spent the weekend at the British Craft Trade Fair introducing some of my work to trade buyers and getting the first real public reaction to the new beachcomber pieces. I’ve never independantly taken my work to a trade show before but the whole expereince was overwhelmingly positive.
The show had over 400 stands filled with handmade, british contemporary craft and the high standard of the work on show was inspiring. It was wonderful to be in such creative company and everyone was so nice. Working on your own it’s easy to forget how many other people are working and learning about handmaking all the time too – and I swapped a few good stories and bits of advice with the other exhibitors.
Anyway, it wasn’t all about us jewellers talking shop – here’s how my stand looked for the show:
I’m really quite pleased with how much I got into a 1m x 2m space and the clean minimal look that the white walls gave it all. I generally have more space at retail shows but I think I’ll keep using this set up, only with a bigger table top …
I got the big new beachcomber necklace all finished up yesterday, just in time for the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate this weekend.
I’m really pleased with how well the stones and my silver press forms work together and it’ll be interesting to see what the galleries who visit make of it …
I wandered down to the MAC in the wintery sunshine today and paid a visit to Craftspace’s new Made in the Middle exhibition which moved in a couple of weeks ago. Featuring work from 35 makers in the middle of the UK (and, bizarrely, at least one from Wales…) the show covers the broad sprectrum of contemporary craft from ceramics to textiles via silversmithing and glass.
It’s great to see so much diversity in a show like this – there’s a lot to connect with no matter what your taste and, while obviously I was drawn like a magpie to the metalwork, I was also fascinated by this:
It’s a close up of Charlotte Clark‘s cast glass sculptures which are just stunning. She cuts through blocks of glass that are filled with voids and swirls of colour to expose the rough textures within – this one contained a hole host of beautiful tones and bubbles that evoked a storm at sea.
There’s a posied sense of balance about her work, while the shapes of the sculptures are all geometric their harsh, mathematical lines are broken as the internal bubbles and ‘flaws’ in the glass touch the surface. Working with a substance like this must make for a constantly suprising results …
Just next to Charlotte’s work is case full of Kevin Grey‘s silversmithing. He’s something of a rising star at the moment with his distinctive, layered pieces that are gently organic and show off a dedicated attention to detail:
One of the nice things about this show is that it’s set out to discover how people made their way into working in contemporary craft, whether they’re straight out of uni or have come into it as a second career. Kevin is one of the latter, with years of experience in the luxury automative industry impacting his work. This background, blended with traditional skills means that he’s pretty free to bend the age old ‘rules’ of silversmithing to good effect. On the Made in the Middle website there’s a super photo diary of how Kevin made one of these gorgeous pieces which is well worth a look, here.
And, as I was heading out I spotted these:
With industrial overtones these base metal and silver sculptures are part giant chess pieces and part art deco factory buildings. They’re suberbly constructed with neat, smooth lines and clever details that are understated yet elegant. The base metals that make up most of the pieces have been chemically treated to patinate the surfaces – leaving rich, deep colours that highlight the silver details.
I really would recommend a visit if you’e got an hour or so to spare. Made in the Middle is open at the MAC until the 15th of April then it heads off on tour around the middle of the UK, finally closing in July 2013.