What a whirlwind of a week!
It all kicked off on Saturday night with a visit to my favourite Scottish city, Dundee, where Gordon Millar was hosting another of his hugely exciting "Gathering" events, this being "Gathering V", the fifth he has organised.
Gordon Millar, organiser of the "Scot Street Style" events.
As I've said before, these are "networking" events but they are also much more than that. They are meeting points for a very certain type of creative person from the worlds of fashion, photography, jewellery and design.
I also took what I think is one of my best photographs:
Sheri Scott, AKA "Betty" from Betty and Bee, fashion blogger and creative consultant.
Met lots of amazing people, from coffee-shop owners to a lady from Uganda sporting remarkable rings!
The wonderful Islay Spalding was there with her friend Louise Forbes, showing off their new range of recycled wood "Man Pins":
And giving away free samples to everyone who might stock them in their shop. An impressive and startling marketing approach, I think!
It was also good to catch up with Jane Gowans, showing some of her most recent work, which was great to see as she is not only about to give birth but has also become a bit of a star of the jewellery world in the UK recently.
I was exhausted at the end of the night!
Gordon now has plans to release a book of all the collaborations which have come of his project - indeed, my Harris Tweed/Bird of Prey/Jewellery/Scotland on Sunday photoshoot would not have come about if it had not been for the very first event he organised about a year ago in Edinburgh and he has started a Kickstarter campaign to try and lower the publishing costs. Loads of people, myself included, are offering rewards, so if you fancy getting a commissioned piece from me, have a look at the link!
Edinburgh is awash with interesting jewellery this month and I strongly advise visiting both the Dorothy Hogg Retrospective at The Scottish Gallery and the GEM exhibition at The Dovecot Studios.
The Dorothy Hogg Retrospective is wonderful. I have always liked whatever work I have seen by her in the past, but I had never seen her earliest works and this exhibition pulls together everything from her work at the Royal College through to her most recent "Touch" series of digital works. What comes through in this is that although the forms of her work may change, her spirit - and these works are all about her spirit - comes strongly through them all.
What impresses me most about her work is the incredible mastery of the skills of the bench jeweller which she effortlessly displays with tapered forms, invisible joins, segments and joints, all exquisitely finished. (Shown above is a section of one of her "Artery Series" necklaces. There are far better images on The Scottish Gallery's website.)
The show is satisfying and also very touching. I hadn't realised before today that her father and grandfather had both been bench jewellers in Troon and the cabinets contain some of the tools from the shops and photographs of them:
Dorothy has been a major force in shaping Scottish Jewellery and in promoting it; one of the lovely touches about this show is that not only are her own pieces for sale - indeed, I bought a brooch - but there is also a cabinet of work by some of her better-known students and colleagues, including Grainne Morton, Grant McCaig and Stephen Bottomley.
Perhaps it is slightly perverse, but my favourite part of the show was definitely the metal "sketches" which were in one of the cases:
You can download the superb catalogue - complete with two essays and all new photographs of the work - here. The essay by Elizabeth Goring about the lyricism of Dorothy's work exactly gets to the point of the pieces and Dorothy's own essay about her journey as a jeweller is fascinating.
Many thanks to the curator of the show, Christina Jansen, for being so incredibly enthusiastic about the work and taking the time to speak to me about it.
GEM at the Dovecote is an odd beast, small but true to PT Barnum's famous dictum, it does leave you wanting more. Put together by Jeweller, Melanie Eddy in conjunction with The British Council and "Turquoise Mountain", an Afghan gem-trading company, this showcases work by both British and Afghan jewellers, working with gemstones from Afghanistan.
The show is beautifully presented and there are short films running which show the work being made as well as displays of the range of gems which come from the country.
I would love to see more of this work and the work of the others but perhaps the most important part of this exhibition is not the jewellery but the fact that it shows Afghanistan engaging with the outside world. I am very happy that it has chosen jewellery as a way to start this process.
My own workshop has been incredibly busy. Further to my talk at Cursley and Bond two weeks ago, I've been rushing to update their stock, so have been creating pieces using only the metal objects I found on the beach at Dungeness, just along the coast from Folkestone.
I'm really pleased with this bracelet made from a chunky piece of ship's chain:
Which led me to think about making a choker from it!
The choker won't be finished for a week or so as I am off to Dallas, Texas, this weekend to meet up with James and Umut Thurman.