An annual showcase of contemporary work, Goldsmiths’ Fair is a highlight of the jewellery calendar. Arts & Collections visited the Autumn event to meet the artists collectors won’t want to miss
‘Personality is stronger in British silver than anywhere else in the world,’ said Graham Hughes, Art Director of the Goldsmiths’ Company from 1951-81. This sentiment was on full display in the striking silhouettes present at this year’s annual Goldsmiths’ Fair, a showcase that brings together established designers with those just starting out.
A collector’s heaven, the fair features over 120 artisans over the course of two weeks at the City of London’s imposing Goldsmiths’ Hall. This year, designers explored the concept of structural simplicity, experimenting with materials and muted colour palettes to create stunning geometric shapes.
It may be a particularly good time to invest in craft work with intrinsic worth in the metal—the price of silver has risen by some 24 percent in the last year and is likely to continue to gain value in this period of financial uncertainty.
This year’s showcase offered an abundance of just that—works beautifully crafted from precious metals. So let’s enjoy looking at some of the highlights and meeting the most talented artists.
‘Having made functional silver tableware for years, my work is becoming increasingly abstract and less concerned with traditional perceptions of function,’ said Ann Christensen. ‘My work continues to explore the subjects of illusion and balance.’
The metalsmith’s new pieces contrast forms to create a tension; as in simple, substantial bowls ‘interrupted’ by lighter, complex structures.
Andrew Fleming is another artist who has made creative use of metals. A recent graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, Fleming is exploring the relationship between silversmithing and the built environment in his work, particularly the process of construction. Temporary structures such as scaffolding inspire his art, creating fascinating contemporary pieces.
‘I’m interested in the play between formal and decorative items,’ said Fleming.
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London-based jeweller and silversmith Jessica takes her inspiration from organic themes, creating a sense of movement and rhythm using traditional techniques of raising and chasing to create flowing textures. The fluidity of form in her work allows a visual narrative to pass between all her pieces, which are also functional, including dishes, tumblers and bowls.
Emmeline Hastings’ background in sculpture informs her signature techniques of hand carving acrylic and embedding precious metallic elements into it. Her work is characterised by free-flowing textures in acrylic and the waves of shimmering precious metals that seem to ripple through it. ‘It captures movement and curiosity,’ she explained, ‘as if the pieces are bristling with life.’
‘My work is influenced by my mixed cultural background due to my Indian upbringing in Britain,’ said Manasi Depala, a young silversmith who uses chasing to decorate her rather more traditional silver.
‘I have a wide interest in both eastern and western styles of decoration and enjoy using architectural details as a basis for decoration.’
Romilly Saumarez Smith
Romilly Saumarez Smith is a jeweller who has slowly lost the use of her hands and so relies on extraordinary collaborative relationships to create what she designs. Her work is whimsical and rustic, using barnacles, diamond beads, tiny coils of gold and seed pearls, all romantically entwined to create volume.
‘I am particularly drawn to the spiral as an archaic form,’ said economist-turned-jeweller Ute Decker. ‘To me, it is a powerful allegory of our connections and common humanity.’
Decker has exhibited internationally, and her work is found in major private and public collections, including the Victoria & Albert museum.
The lauded artist spins her endless rounds in recycled silver and Fairtrade gold. Her materials are sourced from small artisanal mining cooperatives.
Another esteemed master craftsman, Alan Craxford is probably best known for his painstaking and meticulous hand-engraved work. Over the course of his career, spanning some 40 years, Craxford’s work has taken him many places, including to Sir John Cass as Senior Lecturer, to the Hand Engravers Association as a founding member and former Chair, and to the Contemporary British Silversmiths as a member. He has also exhibited both nationally and internationally. At the Goldsmiths’ Fair this year, his pieces showcased his signature hand-engraving.
Find out more about all the artists at www.goldsmithsfair.co.uk
Goldsmiths’ Fair returns to Collect in 2020 for a third year, showcasing a selection of Fair exhibitors past and present. Collect is the International Art Fair for Modern Craft and Design, held for the first time at Somerset House in February 2020, exhibiting the works of 14 jewellers and silversmiths, some of the most exciting makers working in the UK today. Find out who will be represented at this selling Fair here.
Dates have now been announced for Goldsmith’s Fair in 2020: 22nd Sept – 27th Sept & 29th Sept – 4th Oct. More information here.