Monday, February 12, 2018

A Lot Of Lin

It's been fairly quiet since my last post but I've managed to squeeze in a trip to London with my ex-colleague and still-friend, Rachael Colley, a trip which involved culture and a lot of work by Lin Cheung. We started off with a visit to the V&A to see the final choices for the Women's Hour Craft Prize, a prestigious new award which has been awarded for the first time this year, described on the website as:
The Woman’s Hour Craft Prize aims to find and celebrate the most innovative and exciting craft practitioner or designer-maker resident in the UK today, in the most comprehensive prize of its kind.
 And very excellent the choices for the final proved to be. Less excellent was the back-of-beyond corridor end in which the V&A had chosen to present it:

Woman's Hour Craft Prize - 1

To find this, we not only had to ask a member of staff - it was not listed on any of their "what's on" guides - but then had to walk past education rooms, up some stairs, and round a corner, indicated only by a photocopied sign on an easel. The whole thing felt slightly contemptuous and definitely not like an exhibition of work by some of the most interesting craft practitioners in the UK.

The exhibition is really very good and jewellers and metalsmiths are featured heavily, most notably Romilly Saumarez Smith:

Woman's Hour Craft Prize - 4 - Romilly Saumarez-Smith

An exquisite bicycle by Caren Hartley and Lin Cheung's most recent work around the concept of "badges" (or "buttons" to those in the US).

Woman's Hour Craft Prize - 2 - Lin Cheung

Woman's Hour Craft Prize - 3 - Lin Cheung

These badges are made in carved gemstones, which Lin carves herself.

The overall winner was Phoebe Cummings, a ceramics artist who creates marvellously baroque unfired clay sculptures which then auto-destruct:

Woman's Hour Craft Prize - 5 - Phoebe Cummings

In this case, the object is a fountain which runs for a few minutes every day, washing away the carefully-sculpted flowers.

It is such a great shame that this exhibition would never be seen by anyone who did not go out of their way to find it.

After this, we headed through Hyde Park - dropping into the Serpentine Gallery to see the vacuous tosh of Wade Guyton, a big, boring mistake - and enjoying the "wild" parakeets:

Hyde Park Parakeet - 1

Very odd on a bitterly-cold and wet February morning!

We had lunch in a fondue/raclette restaurant - yes, such a thing exists in central London...

We then went to see Lin Cheung's solo show at Gallery SO. If you have a look at the website, you can better see the backs of the badges shown above and see what makes these "badges" rather than "brooches".

Lin Cheung - 1

This was only my second visit to Gallery SO (I'm ashamed to say) and the welcome we received from Valentina and Chris - whom I had met during last summer's ACJ Conference - was fantastic. We had the chance to see not only Lin's work:

Lin Cheung - 2

But also work by Hans Stofer, Andi Gut, Otto Kunzli, Bernhard Schobinger and Lisa Walker, amongst others. Well worth a visit when in London.

On the back of my previous post about the House of Beauty and Culture, I decided that I had to visit the last-remaining element of their collective, The Old Curiosity Shop:

Old Curiosity Shop IMG_0970
Image courtesy of OZinOH on Flickr.
In this shop, the lovely, welcoming Daita Kimura, who now uses John Moore's lasts to make the shoes, showed us around and told us a little bit about the shoes, which are beautifully-made around all their rough-edges:

The Old Curiosity Shop - 2

The Old Curiosity Shop - 1

I have, of course, commissioned a pair of hog-toe boots and this is John Moore-created last around which they will be made. It's a great pity that I can't get down to London to document the making process.

Cursley & Bond - 5

Just back from a weekend in Brighton and Folkestone, where I collected my work from the erstwhile gallery, Cursley & Bond, now, alas! closed. It was lovely to see Chris and Nicola again but sad to bring a nearly six-year partnership to an end. They are off to the US now to possibly set up a gallery there and to allow Nicola to develop her own practice.

The gallery will be sadly missed on The Old High Street in Folkestone, where it trailblazed the regeneration of the area.

I'll end this post with a few highlights of my times there.

Meet The Maker - Cursley & Bond - 6
in time of daffodils - 23
Cursley & Bond - 1
Cursley & Bond - 3
20000 Leagues Under The Seas - Talk at Cursley & Bond Gallery - 3
Folkestone Triennial Visit - 2017 - 1

Sunday, January 28, 2018


Kicked off the week of 16th January with an exhibition of work by one of my colleagues, Toni Mayner, who brings her fine-jewellery skills to the most unlikely of materials, in this case found fragments of wallpaper taken from the rather lovely Lightwoods House - which is about ten minutes' walk from my house and from Toni's house!

Toni Mayner - Lightwoods House - 1

Toni Mayner - Lightwoods House - 4

The wallpaper was revealed when the house was being refurbished after many years of neglect and the work Toni has made is quite delightful.

Toni Mayner - Lightwoods House - 1

Toni Mayner - Lightwoods House - 1

The BA students have been working on another of their exciting one-day projects, this time using sheets of paper to make large-scale wearable objects...

Paper Wearable Project - 2

Paper Wearable Project - 3

Paper Wearable Project - 5

Made in the Middle at Rugby Art Gallery - 2

The Craftspace "Made in the Middle" exhibition is in the last venue, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum - it seems like only moments ago it opened in Coventry! I went along for the opening, which was great... really well-attended and nice to catch up with the other makers in the show. The exhibition looks great in the space and if you haven't seen it yet, this is the last chance.

Made in the Middle at Rugby Art Gallery - 1

I'm still very pleased with the collection of my work in this show:

Made in the Middle at Rugby Art Gallery - 5

One of the advantages of being part of a big university is that there are opportunities and events to which I have access and which I would never get to be a part of in a smaller place. This week I had the pleasure of listening to the wonderful Professor AC Grayling speaking.

City Talks - Professor AC Grayling

He was speaking about what "brexit" means for the UK and how it can be stopped. It was a most encouraging talk and I'm glad to know that he is convinced that the UK will remain part of the EU, either immediately or in the longer term.

It doesn't look like it here, but I am pleased to report that the lecture theatre was well-filled! Grayling is an engaging speaker, witty, focused, effortless... my favourite comment of the night was almost an aside, "Theresa May is not the brightest button in the box". Enough said.

We had a new gem-dealer in the School this week, Maria Gross, who enticed the students with displays of stones which can only be described as "luscious"! She called the plates, "Gemstone salads".

Maria Gross - 1

Maria Gross - 2

As someone with an almost synaesthesic urge to taste gemstones when I'm working with them, I very much appreciate this form of display!

Weekend concerts this weekend... all Elliott Carter, performed by the BCMG and associates. Last night was a lecture-recital of his "Epigrams", a marvellously concise set of pieces for piano trio. It was great to hear these explained to us by the players in advance of the full performance tonight.

Elliott Carter - Epigrams - Lecture 1

More on the performance next blog.

I've been working on something rather unusual. In a meeting two weeks ago, I was doing my usual of subconsciously doodling on my notepad...

The Zoe Challenge - WIP - 1

I have reams and reams of this kind of (almost) "automatic drawing" in all of my notebooks. I can actually remember doing this kind of thing when I was a kid - probably still at primary school (and I'd love to find some of those, which I clearly remember drawing on the back of sheets of vinyl wallpaper).

A couple of months ago, Drew Markou suggested that I should do something with these drawings and this last week, Zoe Roberston was overcome with enthusiasm for the same idea, so much so that I decided to accept her "challenge" and actually turn this drawing - the one which enthused her - into a piece of jewellery. The very next page shows me starting to work things out...

The Zoe Challenge - WIP - 2

No found objects. No narrative. Can I cope with this new "pure" process of creating jewellery?

What has been really interesting for me has been turning the original drawing into something much more three-dimensional. There are hints of dimensionality in the drawing, but nothing explicit. Needless to say, much use has been made of CAD in developing the idea and I've now got it into production in silver and stainless-steel:

The Zoe Challenge - WIP - 3

The unexpected bonus is that I had to make two shapes to create the layered effect I was after, completely failing to notice that this would give me the leftovers with which to make a second, related piece!

There will be more...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Ending the Hiatus

I have no excuse, no apology. I've just been too busy with minor things to get round to updating the blog, so it is almost eight weeks since I last posted. Unforgivable.
Let's get back to it with a whistle-stop overview of the weeks and a promise of a return to regular postings...

Music first and on a wet an windy night, I cycled out to "The Hare and Hounds" to hear Mats Gustafsson's blistering jazz trio, "The Thing". omeone told me 'It's in Mosely'... it was at least three miles further out of the city than that and actually in King's Heath but I can't complain: the exercise is good for me.

Jazz At The Hare and Hounds - 2

This was an astonishing performance: powerful, sublime but all too short.

Have a musical interlude: The Thing with Neneh Cherry, performing Suicide's "Dream Baby, Dream":

Our BA students at the School had their annual Christmas sales event.

Student Christmas Selling Event - 2017 - 2

This was held in a rather glamorous function suite in the city centre and was incredibly well-attended. I bought one of the pieces from Joanna Jewellery, the brooch on the right at the front:

Student Christmas Selling Event - 2017 - 3

Lovely work.

Delia Derbyshire Day

More music, this time music inspired by and derived from a series of recently-discovered tapes of work by Delia Derbyshire as part of "Delia Derbyshire Day".
Every kid of 1970s Britain was in thrall to the sounds of Delia, from her famous re-composing of Ron Grainer's "Dr Who Theme" to incidental music to educational programmes and she was very much instrumental in creating the sound of British pop music in the late 1970s and early 1980s. (Think early Human League, Gary Numan etc.)

The amazing Birmingham Electro-Acoustic Sound Theatre (BEAST) produced the event of recordings and music and showed a short film about the composer. It was a real thrill to learn of the
tapes and to hear the works derived from them.

The short film is available to view here:

Dual Works Christmas Party - 1

Christmas party time. The first of the winter Jewellery Quarter Open Studios was held this year with an inaugural party at the Dual Works Studios.

Dual Works Christmas Party - 3
Modernist Christmas-tree Decorations by Dual Works!

Also around this time was the marvellous exhibition in the Vittoria Street Gallery, "Ambiguous Implements" featuring work by friends and colleagues Rachel Colley, Nuala Clooney and many others. The show was about challenging familiar objects, re-contextualising them in playful and intriguing (and sometimes disturbing) ways.

The show was up for three weeks but somehow I managed to completely fail to take any photographs of it - I think because I had to miss the Private View - so here are some images from their Instagram Feed:

A post shared by Ambiguous Implements (@ambiguousimplements) on

A post shared by Ambiguous Implements (@ambiguousimplements) on

Up to Aberdeenshire for the start of the winter holidays and Drew Markou's wedding, which was brilliant.

Drew and Mike's Wedding - 3

Loads of colleagues from work were there, braving the snow, ice and terrible traffic and roadworks to get to the venue, just outside Inverurie.

Drew and Mike's Wedding - 1

Andy Howard and I were in our kilts. Andy decided to not only be festive, but to guard against the cold:

Drew and Mike's Wedding - 6

Brighton for Christmas and New Year. Did a lot of reading, including the new book about the legendary 1980s collective "House of Beauty and Culture", which has been fascinating as, without realising it, I have taken a lot of inspiration from this group - which included jeweller/stylist, Judy Blame - over the years.

2018 has kicked off with a frenzy already and one of my students, Menna Jones, unveiling the medals she designed for the International Association of Athletics Federations' World Indoor Championships which are being held in Birmingham in March.

IAAF WIC 2018 - Medal Launch - 2

There was a bit of a media frenzy on the roof of the Birmingham Central Library:

IAAF WIC 2018 - Medal Launch - 3

IAAF WIC 2018 - Medal Launch - 4

The medals, of course, are fantastic.

IAAF WIC 2018 - Medal Launch - 6

They were struck in Birmingham by Fattorini and the process of getting from the initial designs - there were 18 student entries, narrowed down to three and then to one - to finished medal has been fascinating. I was under strict embargo as regards the design until this event, which is why there has been nothing more than a few tweets from me.

Last week saw Jo Pond's lastest solo show, "Rationed" open with a "Talking Practice" event before the private view:

Jo Pond - Rationed - Talking Practice Event - 3
Jo in conversation with Sian Hindle
Her new body of work looks at the domestic role of women during wartime, especially during World War II/Second European War, through objects and records left by her own family and is affecting, fascinating and quietly beautiful:

Jo Pond - Rationed - Talking Practice Event - 2

With all that, I aim to return to more regular postings from now on.

Happy New Year!