New acquisition from the Scottish Gallery helps support the craft

The Goldsmiths' Company has acquired the 'Primavera Brooch' by Italian based goldsmith, Jacqueline Ryan

By Dr Dora Thornton, Curator of the Goldsmiths' Company Collection

We are delighted to acquire the 'Primavera' brooch for the Goldsmiths’ Company Collection. It is not only exquisitely made, but has a special freedom and freshness to it, playing on the yellow-greens of early Spring---something we can all celebrate in these difficult times.

Ryan trained at the RCA and studied enamelling with Jane Short and the American artist Jamie Bennett, who takes a painterly approach to enamel. She has developed a unique sculptural approach to enamelled jewellery following her move to Padua in 1992—exquisitely crafted brooches constructed from multiple elements which move to catch the light. 

The Spring palette of 'Primavera' is a new departure in her work. It is an interesting development from the superb brooch we have from her, which was made in Padua in 2001 in the workshop she shared with Giovanni Corvaja, which has conical pieces individually attached to a hexagonal wire frame so that each piece can move. Each cone is enamelled in a pale blue-grey on the inside.

Primavera Brooch, 2018, 18ct gold and vitreous enamel, H4.3 x W5.6 x D1.8 cm

Ryan, who lives in Todi, in Italy, draws her greatest inspiration from the natural world. She starts with meticulous drawings, watercolours and digital macrophotography, then abstracts natural elements into miniature sculptures made from handmade Italian paper. She makes her pieces in precious metal and vividly coloured enamels. Ryan explains:

“Much of my work is made up of moveable elements which shake and vibrate on pins as the body moves….I am not sure that articulation and enamelling have been great partners in the past…I did not study enamel in a traditional or structured manner and have experimented and found a way of using enamel on my own terms…The piece, which is very free, consists of a forged, gently curving oval convex dish form which holds the slightly moveable enamelled parts in place. I assembled the coloured elements with the same amount of spontaneity and joy with which a florist might create a mixed spring bouquet.”

Each of the enamelled “leaves” is riveted to a frame, covered by a backplate which is pinned into place in such a way that individual leaves can be removed for repair or cleaning. The outer frame offers protection to the enamelled leaves when worn, as well as lighting up the colours. The backplate is signed and dated as well as hallmarked with two different marks which tell Ryan’s biography since she started working in Italy.

Hallmarks on the brooch backplate

Daphne Krinos, jeweller and member of the Contemporary Craft Committee which approved the acquisition, comments:

“Every detail on Jacqueline Ryan’s pieces speaks of her wonderful sense of proportion, shape and colour; her artistic flair, technical expertise and sensitivity to material. She manages to make pieces that very much belong to ‘now’, yet always remind one of ancient works of art.”

Signed backplate

'Primavera' is a fine addition to the Collection. It joins our important group of brooches from the 1960s to the present, something we hope to focus on in our exhibition for Goldsmiths’ Fair 2020.

Use the button below to see more of Jacqueline's work and exhibitions: