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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On November 3rd a new, lavishly illustrated book ‘Craft Britain: Why Making Matters’, will be published to celebrate the ‘the unique, the rare, the beautiful and the innovative’ in British craft. The book brings together craftspeople from watchmakers, saddlers, shoemakers, potters and stonemasons, to weavers and basket-makers and of course silversmiths and goldsmiths and many more.
With a foreword by design guru Stephen Bayley, the book sets out to show that our talented artisants lie at the heart of our British identity – think of the thatchers, stained-glass artists and bell founders who make every picture-perfect country village and church a reassuring, picturesque representation of how we like to imagine our green and pleasant land.
Then there are the embroiderers, weavers, and medal workers who create those magnificent ceremonial liveries that are seen in our matchless pageants the world over. Without our crafts, we lose our identity and our pride. After all, Thomas Lyte turns to our most talented goldsmiths and silversmiths when it comes to celebrating our most heroic sporting achievements. To take home the Wimbledon trophy or the FA Cup is to be in temporary possession of a little slice of exquisitely crafted British history.
The book is written by David Linley, Earl of Snowdon, and Helen Chislett. David Linley has devoted himself to a lifetime of creating beautiful bespoke furniture and objects, via his eponymous internationally renowned brand. In 2015 he was appointed Chairman of Christie’s UK in Europe, the Middle East, Russia and India. He now beats the drum for craft – globally as well in Britain – calling on all of us to support our craftspeople and encourage future generations to learn traditional skills in order to take them into the future and develop them for their own needs. In that vein, he founded the Snowdon Summer School in cabinet-making at The Prince’s Foundation’s workshops at Highrove.
To write this important book, David teamed up with journalist, author and arts consultant, Helen Chislett, who is equally passionately committed to championing artisanship in design. Helen and David have not divided the book into chapters about individual crafts. Instead, they explore crafts by the role they play in our lives and how we can best use them today.
So every chapter focuses on different aspects of craftsmanship from rare and endangered or heritage and historical crafts to those inspirational and aspirational or innovative and collaborative crafts that will carry the next generation with them.
This book goes way beyond celebrating historic and traditional craft by also looking to the future with the burgeoning of digital craftsmanship and ground-breaking technologies from microbial weaving to vessels for growing human tissue. It represents an important rallying cry to support not just those endangered traditional crafts but also to champion all the new technologies and innovation in manufacturing that’s enabling craft to develop and evolve and meet the needs of our fast-changing world.
We have selected a number of case studies that demonstrate the broad range of our capabilities designing and making in precious metals.