Sunday, November 23, 2014

Long Winter Nights

An eventful week which included my 50th birthday!

I've been in Edinburgh again for a couple of events, taking in the current show of work by the Northern Irish family of Silversmiths "The McCrory Family" as well as Tania Clarke Hall's incredible jewellery made from leather. My main reason for visiting was to pick up my brooch by Dorothy Hogg from The Scottish Gallery:

Brooch By Dorothy Hogg

I loved this brooch the moment I saw it in the company of two others and I'm delighted to say that all three sold. It is made from blackened, satinised steel and has been embellished simply and elegantly with silver and gold wire inlays.

The show of work by the McCrory family really stands out for simplicity, beautiful use of colour and elegant forms. Consisting of husband-and-wife team of Michael and Deirdre McCrory and their daughter, Cara Murphy, the show is very fresh, assured and quite delightful. It is lovely to see a collection of work which is "just" superb craftsmanship and this is exactly what is on display here.

This candelabra is without a doubt my favourite piece in the show.

Cara Murphy - Growing Wild - Image courtesy of The Scottish Gallery

You can download the illustrated catalogue here.

There is a lot of enamel in the show too - the candelabra above has subtle purple enamel in some of the cups - but it is enamel used calmly to create tranquil and beguiling surfaces:

Michael McCrory - Enamelled Small Blister Box - Enamel by Deirdre McCrory - Image courtesy of The Scottish Gallery

Alongside this, by complete contrast, was work by an artist I had never previously encountered, Tania Clarke Hall, showcasing work made from hand-cut leather which is then gilded or painted to create bold, sculptural forms which demand interaction.

Tania Clarke Hall - Twist And Shout - Image courtesy of The Scottish Gallery

Tania Clarke Hall - Entropy - Image courtesy of The Scottish Gallery
I love the curatorial practice at The Scottish Gallery, where the primary concern appears to be craftsmanship.

Next up was the opening of the new gallery space at the Precious Metals Workshop in Edinburgh.

PMW Gallery Opening - Wall Decoration

The workshops were set up by Iain Nicholson and are a mixture of rentable bench-spaces and artists-in-residence and until last week had no gallery space in which to show work. They are based in one of the new multi-function artspaces which have been springing up everywhere, this one a converted army drill hall. While these spaces present problems for makers using specialist equipment, Iain has done a brilliant job of equipping the studios to a very high standard and in bringing in the very best of Edinburgh's contemporary jewellers.

PMW Gallery Opening - General

I was invited by Jenny Laidlaw, whom I hadn't seen in ages and it was pure serendipity that the opening happened to be on an evening when I had been going to be in the city anyway.

PMW Gallery Opening - Jenny Laidlaw and Another

PMW Gallery Opening - Jenny Laidlaw

The gallery is small but there is a good selection of work, including a number of pieces of work by silversmiths. (It is encouraging to see more silverwares being shown recently in various venues.) The work is all by makers who use the workshops and is exceptionally varied, from found object works by Jo Garner:

PMW Gallery Opening - Jo Garner

Through the new digital jewellery works of Kathryn Hinton (as well as the silverwares we all know and love!):

PMW Gallery Opening - Kathryn Hinton 2

There are phenomenal silver objects by Jamie Hamper:

PMW Gallery Opening - Jamie Hamper

And the seeming oxymoron of "exquisite barbed-wire" by Iain Nicholson:

PMW Gallery Opening - Iain Nicholson 2

Rather than link to individual makers, have a look at the makers page on the PMW website.

At this point, I have to make an apology to Hilda Toothill, who spent time showing me round the workshops - for which I was very grateful - then when I got home I found that my photographs of her work were unusable. Make sure to have a look at her work here!

All the students are beginning to make up work for the Christmas sale. I've only just realised that I don't usually blog this and have no idea why. We've run this event for about 20 years now and every year it has just got better and better. The students get to make work and sell it and the department gets a small percentage to buy a piece of equipment. This year we are going to get a high-power ultrasonic cleaner.

If you're in Glasgow, you would be very welcome to attend!

There will be more on this over the next few weeks.

On the subject of Christmas, anyone in Folkestone should have a look at the Cursley & Bond Christmas event. My "Lobster Quadrille" earrings feature on the flyer!

As to my own bench, it is awash with projects, including a double-Albert watch chain:

Photographer's Watch Chain - WIP - 1

A ring which I can't publish just now, the conversion of one of my "Chance to Cut/Chance to Cure" letter-knives into a brooch which still allows the piece to function as a knife:

Trepanation/A Chance to Cure - Brooch and Knife - 3

A tension-set pendant for the student fund-raising raffle prize:

Sprung Washer - 2

Which then led to a commission which I also can't yet show! There is also a garnet and iron ring made from an old roller-bearing:

Roller Bearing (Boogie) - WIP - 1

And the beginnings of a collar made from pen-nibs to compliment the earrings I made some time ago:

Calder Serafiniamus - WIP - 1

Written Word Earring Trios - 9

While in Edinburgh, I picked up a copy of Fraser Moodie's "PROFOUND", a new Scottish fashion publication featuring some of my work:

PROFOUND - Fraser Moodie - 1

This magazine is enormous!

PROFOUND - Fraser Moodie - 2

As I mentioned above, it was my 50th birthday this week and although I've not really ever been bothered by birthdays before, this one seemed important. When I was a kid, I thought that it would be cool to be "50" and even remember asking my mum for a suit when I was about eight. I think that I had the idea that my father and his friends must have been fifty - although they were probably only about 30! - and since then it has always seemed important, some sort of goal and strangely, as I've approached it, things have got better and better, so no complaints from me... no mortgage, good health, my bike, Dingo, my work being appreciated, a job I enjoy, voluntary work. Long may that continue.

As a bit of a celebration, I bought a new shirt from the excellent S.E.H Kelly - the tweed and corduroy shirt I am wearing in the image at the top of this post - and found that I had no room in the wardrobe, so have spent the last few days redding out the clothes I no longer wear, the odd socks, the ill-judged choices and preparing it for either recycling or for giving to the college fashion department for their annual second-hand clothes sale. Three suitcases filled, four large carrier bags full, five pairs of shoes...

My colleagues at work found me some excellent presents, which I was not expecting at all - we don't really have a culture of celebrating birthdays at work - and there was cake!

Birthday Presents

Lots of cake. One from the staff and another one from the students, one of whom gave me this:

A birthday present from some of my ex and current students!

I went down to Brighton for my actual birthday - on the Sunday - and there was cake.

Cakes for Tea

I'm reminded of Louis Jordan's song lyric, "Lawdy, lawdy, you're fat and forty..."!