There are a few big events in the jewellers/silversmiths calendar, not least being the Goldsmiths Fair. It covers two weeks, and each of the two weeks brings new exhibitors, a real cross section of the industry. It's held in the magnificent Goldsmiths Hall, near St. Paul's cathedral. The building itself is pretty impressive and I always love coming here.
This is the third year I have attended and in previous years it always seemed to be aimed towards a slightly more traditional (and if I dare say staid) market. But this year there is a new team on board and I think they have bought a real breath of fresh air to the event. The images used and style of the promotional posters I feel were far more relevant. It is not just about the time honored traditional processes, but also embracing new and contemporary designs and this year seems to have got the balance between the two just right.
You get a free catalogue with your entry and this is great to have a look through and read the makers personal statements. One stood out for me this year, head and shoulders above the rest. It was by Angus McFadyen, and his simply says "You know that feeling you get when you try hard to do something well and it works? I think that is all any of us is really after." I thought that was amazing - in very few words he manages to sum up mine, and many others, relationship with silversmithing, and in fact anything in life. I met him at his stand and congratulated him, saying I thought his was the best personal statement of the catalogue. He was a little embarrassed, saying that he never knows what to write and that some people seem to get a little carried away. Part of my current uni project involves writing a personal statement and it's good to be reminded that less is more, it's all about being concise and to the point. I am guilty of talking too much, so when I come to write mine I need to remember not to waffle!
Another maker I chatted to was Ryan McClean. He has a couple of small silver tumblers on the counter, which have a crumpled bottom. I asked what process he used and he told me he fires them out of a gun, against a wall. He showed me the bottom, and you could see the imprint the wall had left in the silver. I want to try it!
Stuart Jenkins is another maker who's work I enjoyed because of his interesting forms and mixture of textures, along with Samantha Moore who I have been following on Instagram for a while, and she makes tumblers with little birds inside. I love the matt finished texture she achieves on the outside of the tumblers.
One thing the fair made me realise was just how much I have learnt in the last two years of my degree. When I came to my first one as a first year student everything seemed mystical and out of reach. Now as I walk through I know what processes people have used just by looking at the pieces and it occurs to me that I have taken for granted just how far I have progressed. Now when I look at other peoples work I am constantly questioning their techniques in order to understand how to better my own. And instead of looking at these people as strangers, they are starting to become contemporaries, who I hope to one day be exhibiting beside.
Miriam Hanid for example, she was there this week and recently I was lucky enough to spend the day in her workshop, helping her with a project. Before that she was yet another silversmith who's work I had seen in books etc, but now she's a friend. She also asked me to look after her stand for the afternoon on Saturday, it was great chatting to all the people coming to look at her work and being confident enough to answer any questions they had about her processes. I couldn't help but daydream that one day it would be my work I would be discussing.
Another familiar face I saw exhibiting was Jessica Turrell who came to uni at the end of last year to give us a masterclass in enameling. I didn't expect her to remember me as she is an extremely busy person and must come in to contact with lots of people, but as I looked over in her direction she said "Hi" and called me over to ask how my studies are going. I am becoming more and more comfortable within the world I hope to be a successful professional in. Something that two years ago I wondered if it would ever happen, but it seems to be happening naturally. I can't wait for week two of Goldsmiths Fair, and all the exciting new pieces I will get to see.