The Goldsmiths’ Company’s latest fair is under way, showcasing some of the most talented jewellers and silversmiths, as well as sponsoring the best of the next generation. Glint reports on the artisans currently carrying gold’s torch
The Goldsmiths’ annual Fair began yesterday, hoping to provide an apt testament to the evolution of metal artisanship that has seen the Goldsmiths’ Company survive seven centuries. Over the next two weeks the fair will house some 126 exhibitors, representing what the Company hopes is the best possible selection of silversmiths and jewellery-makers. This includes 10 graduates, chosen by the Company to receive a £1,500 bursary and the option of a bullion loan. This year’s fair also features two specially curated displays and the premier of a short film, Precious Mysteries, by Ujin Lin.
Gently handling a set of silver cups, rendered with svelte modernist lines and inlaid with gold, Errin Chenoa Quinn, explains what the Goldsmiths’ Fair and the Company’s support of the industry means for her. “I still remember coming as a first year student and looking at all the work and being inspired. It’s not the be all and end all but it’s pretty integral.” She highlights the challenges inherent in being a start-up jeweller or silversmith, and how the Company has assisted her, in building her signature style and promoting her brand – giving guidance on everything from personal interaction with clients, to high-end photography.
Downstairs, Stephanie Holt describes the evolution of her own style, an aesthetic that this year won a National Association of Jewellers’ Special Gold, and two Silver, awards. Her work is inspired by natural minerals and crystals: “Their structure and colour is just gorgeous, but at the same time as collecting that imagery, I was reading a lot about the ‘Anthropocene Epoch’ theory which says humans have made a mark now, and we now have plastic in our geology. I’ve used resin and man-made substances to say ‘look, our stuff is just as beautiful as that in the natural world, it shouldn’t be so throw-away’. Mixing that with the precious metal [gold] has really worked.”
Like Quinn, Holt has also benefitted from the Company’s bursary scheme, saying although she felt “scared and excited” on finding out about her selection, it quickly gave her the confidence to realise her style and present it alongside more established artisans at the fair.
That style of angular, contemporary drops of colour framed in classic gold lines, complements a fair as diverse in fashions, methods and mediums, as it is in artist branding. Max Danger, a Danish jeweller now London based, is celebrating his second year on display at Goldsmiths’, having been one of the bursary- receiving graduates in 2016. He explains his brand: “When I was about 20, I used to get really drunk and get in accidents all the time and end up in the emergency room where I said ‘Danger’ was my middle name just for laughs. It ended up in the yearbook at high school – then at art college I decided to turn it into a brand.” Less dangerous and perhaps more detailed, Danger’s work depicts a menagerie in miniature: bees, birds, foxes, rabbits, elephants, monkeys and the occasional rogue robot, all sharing bracelets, earrings and necklaces in a strange sculpture park encased in glass.
Such creativity is also on display with more established artists. Shaun Leane, long-time collaborator with the late Alexander McQueen, is exhibiting numerous extended gold and silver organic swirls, while Vicki Ambery-Smith is showing her gold and silver replica buildings. These feature, The Sheldonian Theatre, The Globe and The Guggenheim. Interestingly, they all have slightly altered proportions to remain familiar when looked down upon. Ambery-Smith picks out a ring – commissioned at a previous Goldsmiths’ fair – it shows an entire street in Oxford. Her other work includes models of Tecton’s Penguin Pool and the bell tower of Siena’s Duomo which was bought from her by the V&A.
In supporting artisans, established and emerging, the fair is building its own legacy. On the future of such craftsmanship, both Danger and Holt bring up the spectre of 3D-printing. Holt credits the additional capacities it brings, while Danger says it may even increase the demand for handmade jewellery. Given the evidence currently on display at the Goldsmiths’ Hall, such change will only further the craft’s fecundity.
The Goldsmiths’ Fair is on until 8 October at Goldsmiths’ Hall, London EC2V 6BN
020 7606 7010
All images © The Goldsmiths’ Company. Main picture Jennifer Balcombe, jewellery photography by Richard Valencia
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