Clare Phillips, a curator in the Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics and Glass Department at the V&A Museum, selects her favourite pieces from this year’s Fair.
In place of the usual tiny stands and the excitement that comes from close proximity, this year’s virtual Fair has allowed us to stroll through the bracken and along shingle shores, and to experience more closely the inspiration behind individual creativity. It has been wonderful to see the benches, and work coming to life in the jewellers’ hands: what fun to watch how perfect spheres of gold spring from sections of wire under intense heat, and the spiralling curls of waste acrylic as the drill bites.
Goldsmiths’ Fair is one of my favourite fortnights of the year: a chance to explore an extraordinary range of creativity, a time to engage with makers both established and emerging, and the thrill – at least in the imagination – of letting purse-strings loose. My selection here is a personal one rather than a set of museum criteria. These are different things, although they do perhaps overlap.
Catherine Martin – Paper earrings
I have long admired the curling symmetry and precision of Catherine Martin’s earrings, and her deft adaptation of the Japanese braiding technique of Kumihimo – precious metal wire worked as if a silken thread, with a comparable softness and sheen. These delightfully long earrings, like torn fragments each with its braided platinum wire set into the softest gold, glow with technical brilliance and spontaneity.
Emmeline Hastings – Undulating Amaru Brooch
This is a beautiful piece that immediately intrigues, exciting wonder and puzzlement – with the likely question of ‘animal, vegetable or mineral?’ coming to mind. It represents a superb transformation of materials. How one yearns to be able to weigh it in the hand and turn it over, and to watch the play of movement as the light ripples over its surface.
Lucie Gledhill – Gold Rope Chain
Hand-made chain is a wondrous and highly satisfying thing. Lucie Gledhill’s exploration of chain links has taken many forms over recent years, from the conceptual to the eminently wearable. With subtle craftsmanship she confounds expectations, undermining the ordered regularity that is a chain’s universal characteristic. A piece of disarming simplicity, delightful for being not quite what it seems.
Romilly Saumarez Smith – Glowing Necklace
Romilly Saumarez Smith’s necklace evokes a distant, courtly splendour. I love the rich autumnal glow of the gold foil glinting darkly from behind the diamond and agate panels, and the fine detailing of its gold frames. Her imagination draws obliquely on a wealth of visual sources and her jewels show a rich appreciation of historical forms. They have an other-worldly magic that speaks of ages more glorious and mystical than our own.
Ute Decker – Infinity Spiral Sculptural Earrings
I love the simplicity, the strength of line and the gently-textured surfaces of Ute Decker’s work. Here the energy and idiosyncrasy of the spiral might suggest a slight hint of madness, or perhaps defiance. Some days one just needs jewellery that speaks of controlled chaos – as these earrings do with such total sophistication and charm.
Abigail Brown – Lichen Collection (vessels)
Somehow in this vessel Abigail Brown has captured both the smooth weathered rock and the brittle dryness of the lichen that grows upon it. Colour and texture are perfection, and immediately transport me to the clean, invigorating air of the Cornish landscape. For me this piece is about the beauty of the land, and interdependence within the natural world; dwelling in London, it promises escape.
Please note: Clare’s selections have been made in a personal capacity
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