Goldsmiths Fair 2012 [Week Two]

The end of Septmeber/beginning of October is marked indelibly in the industry calendar as ‘Goldsmiths Fair‘. Now in it’s 30th year the two week event sees some of the nations finest makers of jewellery and silverware gather in London to present new work to visitors in the splendid surroundings of Goldsmiths Hall.

Here’s who I loved this year:

Petya Kapralova :

maker of  sculptural pieces, tableware and desk accessories Kapralova is a new graduate with an eye for balance and beautiful simplicity. Some of her most striking pieces, made from silver and silver inlaid iron (I have no idea how you’d even start to inlay silver in iron, but hats off to her as she makes it sound effortless) play with your expectations and amuse themselves with their inlaid silver ‘reflections’.

Alex Ramsey:

I’ve admired Ramsey’s work for years but haven’t seen much of it in person before. This year, fresh from a trip to Iceland, she was presenting some new pieces that use her trademark saw pierced technique but employ smatterings of enamel too, creating some wonderful textures and sprays of colour over her silverware.

Sarah Pulvertaft:

Forms jewellery from many tiny components, aiming to capture the complexity of nature in her work. In delicate mixes of silver and gold the many tiny forms build up into a larger whole with a subtle, shimmering motion to them which does indeed make them feel like they have a life of their own.

Made in the Middle – MAC, Birmingham

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.

Made in the Middle at the MAC

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:

Made in the Middle - detail of Charlotte Clark's glass

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.

Made in the Middle - Charlotte Clark

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:

Made in the Middle - Kevin Grey

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.

Made in the Middle - Kevin Grey

And, as I was heading out I spotted these:

Made in the Middle - Marcus Steel

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.

Made in the Middle - deatil of Marcus Steel's work

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.

Made in the Middle - feedback board

The Worcestershire Guild’s Autumn Show

I spent the weekend doing my first selling fair with the Worcestershire Guild of Designer Craftsman at the Malvern Autumn Show. I joined the Guild back in January but this was the first opportunity I had to get involved with what it’s really about. The Guild is designed to bring individual craftsmanship to public attention, through fairs and shows, and encourage us craftspeople to make a living doing what we love.

It’s a noble aim and, looking around at the variety and quality of work on show this weekend, I think that they might just be achieving it.

One of the things I find when I do events is that people are always surprised by the sheer quantity of talented craftspeople around … and so was I when I stumbled across the Guild. I had no idea that so many of them were hidden away, scattered around Worcestershire, where I’ve lived for most of life. It’s clear that I don’t get out of the Jewellery Quarter and explore enough!

Among the jewellers on show were Sian Elizabeth Hughes and Melanie Hamlet (who runs the inspirational contemporary jewellery business, Kokkino) both of whom will be exhibiting at Goldsmiths Fair next week.

Left: Sian Elizabeth Hughes - Right: Kokkino

But I was really taken in looking at the Crafts that I have very little experiene of. There’s a staggering wealth of these in the Guild:

Marie-Therese King is a batik artist who creates original artwork in a medium that I only ever managed to get burned with, when I attempted it way back in school. Her inspiration ranges all through the natural world and her images are dealt with using a bright, bold palette that’s confident, assured and quite beautiful. She puts stunning levels of detail into her work, this was on of my favourites:

Marie-Therese King, Seagulls

though I loved this series too:

Marie-Therese King, Aquilegia and Honesty

And, just across the hall from Marie-Therese, hung the work of Rowan McOnegal. A stained glass artist Rowan’s glass panels made me want to build a cruck framed house, Grand Designs style, so that I had a home to do justice to her work. Based around botany and with a real rural feel Rowan combines colours and somehow works a sensitive, textured feel into the flat surface of her glass:

Rowan McOnegal, Pink and amber Sunflower

She says that she feels that “this medium perfectly combines her love of image making using drawing, painting, colour and changing light” and that’s shown off perfectly here:

Rowan McOnegal, Willowherb Portrait

Needless to say I’m now looking forward to the next Guild show, Innov8:

to be held on the 26th – 28th of November at  Number 8 in Pershore where another selection of Guild members, hopefully including me, will be on show.