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Creation II - Goldsmiths' Hall

Exhibition preview

THE CREATIVE talent of 12 of the United Kingdom’s most distinguished and exciting contemporary artist jewellers is the subject of the Goldsmiths’ Company’s summer exhibition. Entitled Creation II – an insight into the mind of the modern artist-jeweller, it runs from May 29 to July 11, 2009.

It follows on from Creation held in 2004, which concentrated on the work and creativity of a group of silversmiths.

The jewellers featured in Creation II represent an elite group of artist jewellers whose work is admired and collected both at home and abroad. They include Vicki Ambery-Smith, Malcolm Betts, Susan Cross, Charlotte de Syllas, Dorothy Hogg, Daphne Krinos, Andrew Lamb, Catherine Martin, Susan May, Wendy Ramshaw, Kamilla Ruberg and David Watkins.

Mary La Trobe-Bateman, curator of the exhibition explains: “My choice of jewellers illustrates the diversity in the field – in design, technique and individual creativity. It celebrates the experience and influence of key teachers as well as the younger jewellers who have also found an individual voice in their work, making one-off pieces that are instantly recognisable through their personal style.”

The exhibition explores the multi-faceted process of creativity by showing a selection of pieces by each jeweller – some of the works have been specially made for the exhibition while others show the development of their talents and individual styles. The result is diverse and startling.

Aside from the stunning pieces of jewellery on display, another important and exciting element of the exhibition is the series of short documentary films on each of the designers, which play throughout vividly illustrating the creation process.

The films, which were commissioned by the Goldsmiths’ Company as part of its educational remit, were made by students from Goldsmiths’ College, University of London, the International Film School of the University of Wales at Newport and Edinburgh College of Art. The students were selected by the renowned documentary filmmaker and winner of the BAFTA Life-Time Achievement Award 2008, Paul Watson, who directed the project in liaison with their tutors.

These documentaries transport the visitor into the minds and souls of the artist-jewellers and present visual evidence of how each of their creativity is subsequently translated through skilled craftsmanship into intriguing and stylish jewels.

One of the most well-known among the featured 12 is Wendy Ramshaw, considered to be the doyenne of British women jewellers and described by the V&A as one of “our living treasures”. Ramshaw has work in more than 70 public collections around the world and her creativity is brilliantly broad encompassing designs for textiles, screens, gateways and sculpture, as well as jewellery which include her highly individual signature ring sets.

Making a formidable design duo, Ramshaw’s husband, David Watkins, has made an equally significant contribution to the development of modern jewellery design through his teaching. As Professor of Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metal work and Jewellery at the RCA for more than 20 years Watkins has influenced and nurtured many of today’s younger jewellers, as has another distinguished artist-jeweller Dorothy Hogg, who was Professor at Edinburgh College of Art. Both have combined teaching with making their own distinctive jewellery.

Among the jewellers featured, two are previous winners of the Jerwood Prize for the Applied Arts – Charlotte de Syllas, who won in 1995 and is renowned for her sensuous jewellery made out of semi-precious stones, and Susan Cross who was a joint winner of the Prize in 2007. Cross combines jewellery and textile techniques such as wrapping, binding and coiling precious metals in a spontaneous and evolved manner.

Catherine Martin’s distinctive intricate and rhythmical jewellery is also based on a textile technique – kumihimo – the Japanese art of braiding. Instead of using silk threads, she painstakingly hand-weaves fine gold and platinum wire, often incorporating tiny gold beads, or recently diamonds, to make her exquisite pieces, which are both classic and yet very contemporary. As a classically trained musician, music is the starting point of all Catherine’s creativity.

Lengths of silver, gold and platinum wire are similarly manipulated with great skill by the youngest exhibitor in the show, Andrew Lamb. His jewellery comes to life when worn as movement and light catch the different metals and create subtle, rippling textures and colour changes. Movement is also an all important element for Kamilla Ruberg’s innovative kinetic jewellery and many of her delicate geometric compositions explore the possibilities of balance and movement.

In contrast to Ruberg’s deceptively fragile creations, Susan May explores abstract linear form to produce jewellery which makes a dramatic, bold statement. Heavy metal wire is manipulated into shapes to wrap a finger, arm or neck in a way which is both visually exciting and sensual to wear and observe.

For Daphne Krinos the focal point of her creations is highlighting the raw nature of stones, which she combines with flat strips of precious metal and angular settings to contrast with the soft form of the body. Equally gems are also the starting point and inspiration for Malcolm Betts and he sources antique stones from all over the world, such as one of his particular favourites, the old cushion cut diamond. These he then mounts in a new and modern way successfully combining antique and contemporary.

A jeweller who has created her own highly individual and distinctive niche is Vicki Ambery Smith. Her jewels are based on architecture, a subject which everyone can relate to, and never cease to cause marvel and delight. Cityscapes, grand palaces, monumental bridges through to more modest dwellings, have all been uniquely interpreted into small scale three dimensional images sculpted into rings, brooches and neckpieces.

The exhibition, through the combination of jewels and the fascinating documentaries, successfully shows how each of the featured jewellers have developed and are continuing to develop creatively over the years. For anyone interested in contemporary jewellery and fascinated by exemplary skill and talent this is a must-see exhibition.

An illustrated catalogue with full details on each exhibitor with a foreword by the exhibition curator, will be available together with a compilation DVD of all the accompanying documentaries. Price £7.

Creation II Gallery

Admission: Free.

Times: Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm (excluding national holidays).

Goldsmiths’ Hall, Foster Lane, London, EC2V 6BN.

Tel: 020 7606 7010

Silver with a Pinch of Salt continues at Goldsmiths’ Hall until April 25, 2009.
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