Acquisitions: Supporting Contemporary Makers
As the Company moves towards the celebration of its 700th anniversary in 2027, its pioneering support for contemporary makers through competitions, acquisitions and commissioning plays an important part in enhancing the vitality of design and craftsmanship in silver, jewellery and art medals into the 21st century.
Supporting contemporary makers
This booklet describes the Company’s acquisitions over one year, from April 2019 to April 2020. That includes purchases, many of them from the 2019 Goldsmiths’ Fair; gifts to the Collection and Company commissions for pieces designed to be used, worn or displayed at the Hall or to document contemporary history.
What it demonstrates is that the Goldsmiths’ Company continues to invest in excellence, craftsmanship, community and skills in the goldsmiths’ community, as it has done ever since its first charter in 1327. Support for our makers lies at the heart of what we do, now as much as ever.
The Goldsmiths’ Company’s Collection is one element within that support for our makers. Of world class importance, it includes both historic and contemporary works of art—stunning gold and silver plate, jewellery and art medals. We research it, teach with it, display it, lend it and talk about it as part of our core identity—as something which tells very human stories about people and their connections with the trade and with the Company. In writing this booklet, I have tried to bring out some of those stories, using the words of makers and patrons.
Our ambitious plans to digitise the Company’s collections will eventually allow us to make them available online through our website to show who we are and what we do. This booklet describes the latest additions to a working Collection. We use it to advertise excellence and innovation within the extraordinary, living tradition of silversmithing which the Company continues to regulate, support and promote into the 21st Century.
Dr Dora Thornton
Curator of the Goldsmiths’ Company Collection
Gifts to the Collection: Brooch, Rod Kelly
1995, 925 sterling silver, silver-gilt, ruby
“It is a rarity, I have only ever made one piece of jewellery and now it is in the Company’s Collection.”
Kelly’s brooch in the shape of a leaf is the gift of Lucy Morton. The jewel was commissioned as a Ruby Wedding present for her mother. Kelly, as a leading silversmith rather than a jeweller, was an unusual choice. Morton recalls: “I knew Rod’s work and had always admired it – in particular the studied naturalism of his chasing. The two criteria were that the brooch should be something that my mother could wear on a coat, made of thick material like tweed, so that it should not be too intricate or fiddly.
The other point was that it should incorporate the native trees of the National Trust woodland at Toys Hill in Kent where my parents lived for nearly their entire married life.” Kelly’s design fulfilled the brief perfectly, producing a clean-cut brooch which is bold but not unsubtle. Its chased silver design of oak leaves, acorns, holly and beech leaves is botanically exact and breathes the essence of British woodland. Kelly adds: “It is a rarity, I have only ever made one piece of jewellery and now it is in the Company’s Collection.”
Commissions: Edward Harley’s Court Cup, Michael Lloyd
2020, 958 Britannia silver
"...The huge and ancient Spanish chestnuts in the park; he gathered and took away with him leaves and branches which have now found themselves represented on the surface of the cup.”
The octagonally-fluted beaker is exquisitely chased with a design inspired by the natural and built environment of Brampton Bryan, the Harley family seat in Herefordshire. Edward Harley records that on a visit to the family, Lloyd was struck by “the huge and ancient Spanish chestnuts in the park; he gathered and took away with him leaves and branches which have now found themselves represented on the surface of the cup.” Lloyd also incorporated into the base the ‘ballflower’ moulding as seen on Brampton Bryan Castle—an architectural feature which dates from the 14th century, when the family arrived there.
Drawing on Silver
The hallmarks are scattered over a leaf within the continuous chased chestnut design, while the rim of the beaker has been polished and engraved with an inscription and the Harley crest. The gilding inside the beaker highlights the delicacy of the chasing on the outside, which is close to drawing on silver. The whole piece seems to breathe the spirit of the place which inspired it, and it does so in a completely contemporary and fresh way.
Purchases: ‘Rolling Waves in Moonlight’, Ute Decker
2017, 18ct Fairtrade Gold
“Jewellery is my artistic medium to tell a story and working ethically and sustainably in a global world is one of the most urgent stories today.”
Decker’s brooch is from her limited-edition ‘Calligraphy’ series. The brooch is formed from a single strip of loosely-curled gold with matte surface and polished edges. This is the first piece of Fairtrade Gold in the Collection, traceable to a mining co-operative in Macdesa, Peru, and it bears the Fairtrade mark, introduced in the United Kingdom in 2011. Decker explains: “Jewellery is my artistic medium to tell a story and working ethically and sustainably in a global world is one of the most urgent stories today.”
Joanna Hardy adds: “Ute Decker was one of the first jewellers in the world to launch a collection using Fairtrade Gold. Her architectural jewels are bold, minimalist and stylish.” A brooch from the same series won the 2018 Goldsmiths’ Craft Design Council Silver Award for precious jewellery in gold, platinum and palladium, and a ring in the series won the 2020 Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Bronze Award for Fine Jewellery; the Gold Fairtrade Award; and the National Association of Jewellers Award.
Purchases: ‘Linear Brooch’, Anna Gordon
2019, Oxidised silver, 18ct yellow gold
“I am interested in drawing and the quality of the drawn line. I see the pieces of jewellery as a sketch on the body"
This brooch is one of a series of 60 mm brooches which use repeated units. Each silver tube is hand formed from silver sheet, with an opening along its length, then curved like a twig and rigidly fixed onto a round frame at the back. The silver tubes which make up the brooch are oxidised to grey-black or decorated with gold leaf. Gordon comments: “I am interested in drawing and the quality of the drawn line. I see the pieces of jewellery as a sketch on the body, sometimes three-dimensional and often with an element of movement. I enjoy the changes to a piece as the light plays on it, creating a shadow on the wearer or catching the brightness of gold leaf. I like this contrast and feel it gives the work another dimension.”
The piece was displayed at ‘Elements: A Festival of Jewellery, Silver & Gold’ in Edinburgh in November 2019. Gordon was awarded the 2020 Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council Gold Award for Wire Innovation, sponsored by The Worshipful Company of Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers.