Wednesday 26 April, 2017
Rosemary Ransome Wallis
Rosemary Ransome Wallis has stepped down from her role as Art Director and Curator for the Company after 45 years of service. Rosemary was first appointed in 1972 as Curator of Collections and Secretary to the Modern Plate Committee.
Supporting Young Silversmiths
Amongst her many achievements working to support the next generation of silversmiths are the Young Silversmith of the Year Award which ran for 19 years, and The Silver Bullion Grant Scheme which supports 20 exceptional students to work in silver while still at college.
When art schools started putting up fewer candidates for the Young Silversmith of the Year Award, she took the decision to by-pass the colleges and set up the Studio Internship Graduate Award (SIGA) for 16 aspiring young silversmiths.
When in 2014 she spotted an opportunity to do something for the master craftsmen and women on whom our training of young people depends, she set up the Master Craftsman Internships for established silversmiths and selected young students through work placements in 20 workshops.
The many exhibitions supported by the Goldsmiths’ Company and pioneered by Rosemary have help raise the profile of the trade.
To mark the millennium, Treasures of the 20th Century, a major exhibition of the Company’s Modern Silver, Jewellery and Art Medals Collections, was held at Goldsmiths’ Hall. Following this success, in 2002 the Company was invited to showcase the exhibition’s silver at the prestigious Danish museum, Koldinghus. Innovation and Design at the Koldinghus exemplified the number and variety of silversmiths practising in the UK, and won international acclaim.
Following this, the Goldsmiths’ Company decided that in order to bring British modern silversmithing to a wider audience, they should tour the Modern Silver Collection outside London. A series of exhibitions called Treasures of Today followed from 2004 to 2010, and showed at the Harley Gallery, the Welbeck, the Millennium Galleries in Sheffield, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Fitzwilliam Museum, the National Museum of Ireland, and the Ruthin Craft Centre and Art Gallery. Treasures of Today reached an audience of 102,000 visitors.
This touring success led to a new initiative in conjunction with the National Trust - Studio Silver Today. A series of five annual exhibitions between 2010 and 2014 at National Trust properties housing major collections of antique silver, the exhibitions included silversmiths demonstrating their skills as artists-in-residence.
The five silversmiths involved in Studio Silver Today - Shannon O’Neill at Dunham Massey, Theresa Nguyen at Kedleston, Miriam Hanid at Ickworth, Rauni Higson at Erddig and Angela Cork at Belton House - were unique ambassadors of their innovative craft, and each raised the visitor numbers to the respective properties. In total, 500,000 visitors saw these exhibitions - a new audience for contemporary silver.
Most recently, The Silversmith's Art: Made in Britain Today hosted at the National Museum of Scotland, celebrated the exceptional artistry and skill that make Britain a world leader in modern silver. The exhibition featured over 150 masterpieces by 66 acclaimed silversmiths commissioned for the Goldsmiths' Company's Modern Silver Collection between 2000 and 2015. The exhibition welcomed 28,000 visitors.
In her time at the Goldsmiths’ Company, Rosemary not only built one of the most important Collections of Modern Silver, Jewellery and Art Medals in the western world but also shaped the careers of three generations of makers and set a consistently high standard for the future of the Company’s performance as patron of the craft.