The Duchess of Cambridge, Lady Gaga, Ang San Suu Kyi, Stephen Fry, Bjork and Stephen Hawking are just a few examples of people who inspire the work of a group of young jewellers and silversmiths featured in the Goldsmiths’ Company’s Spring Exhibition at Goldsmiths’ Hall from Monday March 11 to Saturday April 13.
Entitled ‘Growing Talent’, the exhibition focuses on a diverse group of jewellers and silversmiths who have been nurtured by the Goldsmiths’ Company over the past decade. Through striking examples of their work, this fascinating exhibition visually demonstrates how these talented young craftspeople have blossomed since they first exhibited as recent graduates at Goldsmiths’ Fair.
The Exhibition is a perfect example of how an ancient Livery Company remains totally relevant in the 21st century by encouraging and fostering the early shoots of creativity displayed by graduates from the UK’s excellent art and metalworking colleges. This practical support and promotion of young craftspeople at such an early stage in their career is vital in ensuring their success and in turn the survival of these traditional skills for future generations. In addition, seeing exciting modern works of art exhibited in what is essentially a very traditional, historic building reinforces this message.
The Exhibition is curated by Mary La Trobe-Bateman and she has taken as her theme “something old and something new.” Hence on display is a piece which the jeweller or silversmith showed at their very first Goldsmiths’ Fair (borrowed back for the occasion), together with an item made especially for this Exhibition. Those who benefitted from the Bursary Scheme at the 2012 Fair will only illustrate one item. It is fascinating to see how all these young craftspeople are developing,” said Mary, “And what is even more encouraging is the fact that they are constantly honing their skills, pushing the boundaries and continuing to thrive in what is a challenging climate. Many of them are now well established and their work sought-after by collectors worldwide.”
Those with high profile and thriving businesses include Tomasz Donocik, Milly Swire, Regina Aredesian, Kate Smith, Ruth Tomlinson, Rachel Galley, Sue Lane, while jewellers David McCaul, Kamilla Ruberg, and Mikala Djorup all have their own London galleries cum workshops. Among the silversmiths Miriam Hanid has recently been the focus of a Goldsmiths’ Company Exhibition at the National Trust property Ickworth, and many, including Miriam, have pieces in the Company’s own renowned collection of contemporary silver and jewellery.
Like most artists their inspiration is taken from the modern world they inhabit – both in terms of popular culture and intellectually. In order to bring the personality of the designer-maker, as well as their work, to the fore, Mary La Trobe-Bateman asked each one a series of pertinent questions not just about where they studied, learnt their skills and the people who influenced them but about their personal life, such as musical and literary preferences and even their favourite film. The responses were far ranging and eclectic – musical tastes included classical, jazz, reggae, rap and similarly literary preferences encompassed the intellectual and esoteric to more popular light-hearted romances and thrillers.
When asked “what piece of jewellery or silverware would you most like to own?” the replies were equally diverse, although not surprisingly many coveted a piece by the virtuoso Italian contemporary goldsmith Giovanni Corvaja – as Mikala Djorup enthused; “Anything by him would be fabulous!” While Ornella Iannuzzi is mesmerised by the work of Kevin Coates; “I am totally fascinated by his genius!” Other contemporaries whose work appears on several wish lists include Hiroshi Suzuki, Rod Kelly, and Malcolm Appleby.
Not surprisingly each individual’s aspirations as to who they would like to design and make for is equally wide ranging. The Duchess of Cambridge for example features highly on the list as a leading inspirational figure. For example Sheffield based silversmith Katey Felton who first exhibited at the Fair in 2004 said: “The Duchess of Cambridge is the inspiration for my hand-chased sterling silver clutch bag – the first piece of my new collection! She is without doubt my fashion icon and a great role model for women around the world.”
Other makers were less specific and said they just wanted their work to go to anyone who would: “Cherish, appreciate and use it.” Each of the 82 exhibitors are all unanimous in their appreciation of the support they have received from the Goldsmiths’ Company and how invaluable they found exhibiting at Goldsmiths’ Fair so soon after graduating. Sue Lane said: “Goldsmiths’ Fair has made a large impact on where I am today. It is a completely unique event and the most fantastic platform to show one’s work.”
The Exhibition, like Goldsmiths’ Fair is designed to appeal to everyone with a passion for unique, beautifully designed and crafted work and those who have an interest in how talented young people develop their skills and constantly push the boundaries to produce exciting new creations – the heirlooms of our future.