Go & See Bursaries: Sarah Rogers


Forming part of our professional development strand, the Go & See travel bursaries aim to assist professional artists and makers to visit events and exhibitions outwith the region that are relevant to the development of their practice.

This report was written by Sarah Rogers, who attended the Goldsmith’s Fair at the Guild Hall in London (November 2019)

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Goldsmith's Fair

I recently attended the Goldsmith’s Fair at the Guild Hall in London. As well as the fair itself, there was so much inspiring architecture in the area with an exciting, bustling atmosphere completely different to the quiet, rural area where I’m based. The goldsmiths hall is a gorgeous building with grand stairs, a huge chandelier and beautifully adorned walls and ceilings. The quality of work was amazing and there was a really lovely diversity I hadn’t seen before. There were of course some jewellers I recognised and some pieces of jewellery that I had seen, but so many designers that were new to me using innovative techniques and creative designs. I definitely came away feeling very inspired and with a new understanding and appreciation of my industry.

Something Blue

One of the first jewellers to catch my interest was Hazel Thorn, a silversmith who creates sculptural pieces that reminded me of a technique called Mokume Gane only this work had an intense blue colour running through it which isn’t characteristic to the technique. Mokume Gane uses layers of different precious metals which are laminated together and manipulated to form a single solid mixed metal piece that has a wood grain type appearance. Hazel was great. She was so open and enthusiastic, and began telling me about the technique she uses. She went on to explain that it was in fact Mokume Gane, however she has developed her own process incorporating guilding metal into the layers and patinating the pieces so the blue colour developed where the guilding metal connects with the silver. I was in my element, I love learning about different processes and techniques and this was certainly an interesting one. I was definitely feeling inspired.

Vicki Ambery-Smith

My favourite work at the fair was created by Vicki Ambery-Smith. She made the most intricately detailed buildings and scenes. If you have ever seen my work, it would probably be pretty easy for you to guess that I like tiny delicate and detailed pieces and Vicki had certainly achieved that. Her pieces had their own distinct stylised feel and look to them while remaining instantly recognisable as landmarks and well known settings.

A Customer's Point of View

I could honestly spend all day detailing all the exciting work I got to see and the interesting people I talked to but I will finish off by telling you about one of the talks I attended while I was there. Kate Baxter, the director of The Cut London was presenting a talk on ‘how to commission a piece of wedding jewellery’. The talk was aimed at consumers not jewellers but I decided it could be quite beneficial and interesting anyway. Although I think about how I interact with others and try to ensure my customers have the best experience possible working with me, I have never stopped to properly examine their experience from a different non jeweller kind of viewpoint. Kate spoke about the fear a lot of people have of not being able to afford to commission a piece. She tackled the misconception that bespoke work is automatically drastically different in price and unaffordable. She spoke about the collaborative process between customer and designer and being able to work around a budget and how materials like precious stones affect costing. I hadn’t considered that people might actually be intimidated by the idea of a commission and how my everyday normal world of jewellery can be completely alien and overwhelming to others.