Charlotte Metcalf is the Editor of Great British Brands and the co-presenter of Break Out Culture, a weekly podcast with former Minister of Culture, Lord Vaizey. She is also a film-maker, author and journalist. Every week she’ll be reporting on cultural events, exhibitions, fairs and publications that are of interest to the communities of craftsmen we represent and celebrate, with a particular focus on goldsmiths and silversmiths.
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Welcome to our first Culture Round-Up and I’m delighted to be bringing you weekly news of interesting events and exhibitions around the country that support and demonstrate the finest aspects of Thomas Lyte’s craft.
This weekend do not miss the final weekend of the annual Goldsmiths Fair. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, the Fair is exhibiting the final piece of jewellery ever given to the late Queen and worn at her Platinum Jubilee. This circular brooch designed by David Marshall, is made of 18-carat white gold and platinum and incorporates 97 round-cut diamonds and seven fancy-cut ones, each one representing a decade of her reign. A gift from The Goldsmiths’ Company, the brooch also represents the four nations and includes Lily of the Valley, one of her favourite flowers, which featured in her Coronation bouquet.
The magnificent Goldsmiths Hall is rarely open to the public but welcomes visitors for two weeks of the year. This year it’s showcasing the work of 136 silver and goldsmiths working in the UK, including ten recent graduates, whom the fair supports. The graduates come from all over the country, from Glasgow to Somerset, and the fair supports them by providing cost-free stands, an interest-free silver bullion and guidance on selling.
You’ll also be able to see the work of well-established jewellers, like Romilly Saumarez Smith, known for repurposing medieval thimbles foraged materials like sea urchin spines or ammonites, then combining them with precious jewels and metals to create exquisite tiny sculptures that imitate nature.
Most of the Fair’s exhibits are jewellery but others worth looking out for are Juliette Bingley’s arresting abstract wall pieces in mixed metals, Fred Rich’s nature-inspired enamel bowls and Samuel Waterhouse’s vessels and bowls that he makes using the ancient Korean technique of Keum-boo, which involves hand-rolling gold to a fine foil and fusing it to a silver surface.
Mainly this year’s Fair aims to celebrate its 40 years by exploring the Goldsmiths Company Collection and showing the work of 40 makers, each showing a piece made since 1983 and showing a fascinating progression. Exhibits include Rod Kelly’s 1985 Willow and Trout Water Jug, Michael Lloyd’s Golden Jubilee Bowl and Malcolm Appleby’s and Hector Miller’s Millennium Casket, Jane Short’s enamelled vase inspired by a jay’s wing, Wendy Ramshaw’s Song brooch, Toby Russell’s Millennium Bowl and many more. Showing such a variety of extraordinary work in chronological order is a valuable visual demonstration of how techniques have evolved over the years, enabling silver and goldsmiths to innovate with confidence – take Martin Keane’s 2021 elegantly sinuous, Gin No Nagare (Flowing Silver) Carafe No. 2.
‘The Fair allows makers to communicate their expertise in fusing traditional techniques in precious metal with the latest digital technologies,’ says Goldsmiths Curator, Dr. Dora Thornton, precisely reflecting Thomas Lyte’s own ethos and commitment to both the craft’s traditional values and evolution via technological advances.
Celebrated British jewellery journalist and long-time jewellery columnist for Vogue, Carol Woolton, will be covering the fair on her podcast ‘If Jewels Could Talk’, so if you can’t get to the fair, be sure to tune into that.
The Fair will run at Goldsmiths’ Hall, London EC2V 6BN till Sunday
We have selected a number of case studies that demonstrate the broad range of our capabilities designing and making in precious metals.