Best New Design Award at Goldsmiths' Fair 2019
Every year at Goldsmiths’ Fair a noted industry expert hand selects a particularly special item from the work on display. In week one at this year’s Goldsmiths’ Fair, Trino Verkade - director of the Sarabande Foundation - selected Lucie Gledhill’s gold curb chain as the best new design, highlighting the precise execution and the unique interpretation of a classic form.
But aside from its craftmanship, what makes the piece worthy of the award is the story of collaboration which lies behind it. Named, Swap 1, the necklace is a collaboration between the maker, Lucie Gledhill and photographer Kasia Wozniak. Having previously worked together combining photography with the process of making fine jewellery, they began the Swap 1 project in early 2019.
“I knew in theory it would work but I had no practical experience of using acid or extracting metals – it was the most exciting thing we’ve ever done, we were like children! Neither of us could sleep; it was really quite thrilling.”
The making of the chain took three weeks to complete and was influenced by the classic Victorian era curb chains. The process began with the chain, which was made with gold tubing and silver wire. The links were then soldered together and the whole chain twisted to make the classic curved shape.
In order to expose the silver, Lucie filed back each link and placed the chain into nitric acid, which dissolves all metals except gold. What’s left is a hollow gold chain. The remaining silver was then utilised by Kasia, who specialises in the wet plate collodian technique. This relies on a chemical bath, along with silver, to create a light sensitive environment on which to expose an image. Kasia's photograph shows a model wearing the chain and forms part of the finished piece.
For Lucie, the process of making the chain has a deeper meaning which touches on the design's historic roots: “While it reflects the rigid structure of Victorian society, I like to disrupt this system and tradition with unexpected style in order to expose the true hollow nature of these constructs."
It is a true celebration of the versatility of silver and how it can work across multiple artistic outputs. As she says: “The way we work is almost alchemical in nature".
Lucie and Kasia hope to collaborate on more projects together in the future and are holding an exhibition at Somerset House in February 2020.