Fit for Purpose – Contemporary British Silversmiths at the V&A

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.

Parcelling up work for Galanthus

Phew, it’s been a busy few days in the studio … it’s strange to think that I’ve been back from Scotland for a week and I’m already back into working like I hadn’t been away …

I’ve made up a parcel of work for Galanthus Gallery, they’re putting Flotsam into their Autumn stock alongside some of their other really wonderful designers:

Annie Cracknell has a lovely, almost mathematical approach to the structures that she makes out of hand cut stones and precious metals. Some of her pieces are downright architectural while other have a lovely simple structure.

Then there’s Suzanne Smith who’s beautifully detailed designs are inspired by vintage materials and the natural world. There’s a great feel of romance to them, like they’re Victorian relics to be treasured.

Dazzling Jewellery in and around the Edinburgh Festival

One of the less theatrical treats of the Edinburgh Fesitval is a trip to Dazzle. The Dazzle selling exhibitions are a bit of an institution in the world of designer – maker jewellery and take place in Manchester, London, Edinburgh and Glasgow annually.

The Edinburgh exhibition was one of the first contemporary jewellery shows that I ever attended, having stumbled upon it by accident while visiting the Traverse Theatre. I hadn’t really made up my mind about studying Jewellery back then, I was still awaiting my A Level results, and it really helped me to see art as a valuable career. So it’s got a bit of a special place in my heart and I always look forward to it and end up regretting that I don’t have more spending money!

Some of my favourites from the Dazzle shows are:

Hannah Louise Lamb

and the wonderful Becky Crow:

But there was nothing that I really, really wanted to take home this time. Hm. That’s good for my bank balance but not so great for the show. I think the problem was that the exhibitors hadn’t changed much from those I saw in Dazzle London over Christmas and, while I bemoan the industries demand for constant innovation, I found myself wanting it here.

I felt like I’d seen most of the work before and some of the exhibitors were indistinguishable from each other, which I guess shows that even designer jewellers bend to the trends of what’s fashionable. Don’t get me wrong, the work was beautiful, and as immaculately presented as usual but it just lacked a spark for me …

That’s why I was so pleased to find such a wonderful little gallery not to far away in the form of Hannah Zakari.

It’s just off the Grassmarket (for those of you who know Edinburgh) on Candlemaker Row and it’s so new the paint was still fresh. It stocks jewellery, textiles and paper work mostly but you get the feeling that it could lend it’s hand to anything. There’s work there from:

Mary Mary Handmade

and the lovely Joanna Rutter

and I got quite excited because it was so thoughtfully put together. Work was sourced from all over the place-  Mary Mary Handmade is from New York while Joanna Rutter works in Devon and you really get the impression that Hannah Zakari has hunted far and wide for beautiful things that tickled her fancy. Edinburgh has a lot of galleries that seem to exclusively support local talent, which is a great way to work, but, put too many galleries in any one area and the work is going to overlap – this gallery has avoided that brilliantly and the result is a charming shop full of things I would have cheerfully taken home – though my favourite was this Fortune Cookie Necklace from Mary Mary:

So, if you find yourself with a spare half an hour in Edinburgh I recommend that  pop in to see Hannah Zakari and marvel.