Built in 1879 the old Standard Works building dominates a large stretch of Vittoria Street, on the far edge of the Quarter, and has long been one of my favourite buildings in the area. Disappointingly derelict for the best part of two decades it has thus far avoided all attempts to turn it into residential property, or to resurrect it for industrial use – until it was finally sold, just a few weeks ago, to the Ruskin Mill Trust, a further education organisation for young people with learning and emotional difficulties.
With plans to build specialist teaching rooms, a theatrical space and even it’s own artisan bakery the team behind the conversion of the space are ambitious – with an eye to fit the project into the community and recall some of the buildings’ past with the inclusion of jewellery education workshops in the scheme.
So, last weekend, the people behind the project allowed a bunch of curious locals with cameras into the building to get a sense of what the project is about and have a tour of this remarkable building. Here’s what I saw:
My workshop windows look out over Key Hill cemetery and it’s a hidden part of the Jewellery Quarter that I’m really rather fond of.
When I moved into the area many years ago the sandstone gates were in seriously bad repair but, over the past few years a lot of restoration (mainly funded by the fine efforts of FKWC) has gone on throughout the Quarters two Victorian cemeteries. A week or so ago the scaffolding came down from the Key Hill gate posts on Key Hill Drive after what looks like a final round of restoration.
I ventured into the Jewellery Quarter on a Sunday today for the first time in aaages to get these pieces all ready to go off to Assay on Monday. There’s a couple of new pendant designs (and some more studs):
Plus, I got the pieces of that big new necklace sanded:
I’ve been struggling for a week or so to come up with a larger, eye catching piece for the middle of my stand at the BCTF in a couple of weeks. I’ve thrown a lot of ideas around the workshop but the right one has been eluding me … I knew that I wanted to work at a slightly larger scale (and maybe use some stones) but nothing I tried was working.
A London based stone dealer Marcia and her team make a trip up to the Quarter a few times a year to sell to students in the university (where I first encountered her) and, more recently, to the general public in Cookson‘s foyer. The nicest thing about her visits is that you get time and space to fully inspect the stock, sorting through the jumble of lovely things that she and her team bring with her.
I was idling through the selection when I came by this:
A kind of fossilised coral. Isn’t it beautiful?
Each piece is different, with faint coral textures and an abstract shape all it’s own. It’s going to be just perfect for a big, new press formed piece!
I planned it all out and made the dies today so tomorrow I’ll set to work on it …