Written by Pamela Rawnsley
Most significantly, all those whose work is illustrated here are concerned with the integrity of self-expression, this is clearly reflected in the range and vitality of the work.
Within all the work, a strong sense of place is very evident, whether it be direct and intimate references to the varied physical landscape, or hints of industrial and agricultural history. Elizabeth Abbey’s ethereal framed brooches are an example of a strong personal involvement with her immediate surroundings and its history, and her observations of the effects of the elements. Ann Catrin Evans’ bold metalwork is often a response to ‘’mechanical industrial elements in the landscape,’’ while Helen Carnac places delicately beautiful silver vessels on or within other materials such as wood and stone, creating small environments.
Of course, not all the influences are homegrown. The best of contemporary architecture has long inspired the jewellery of Kathleen Makinson, while overseas travel, in particular the U.S.A., is evident in Dawn Emms’ luscious and colourful pieces.
Diversity is much in evidence here regarding the range of materials used. Traditionally silver and gold have been used to convey status, but today contemporary jewellers and metalsmiths often subvert the precious nature of these metals, or deliberately question perceptions of value. Here, everything has its place. Printed feathers, carved acetate, steel, bronze, cast iron, found objects, as well as silver and gold are all used to express ideas across a wide range and scale of work.
Anna Lewis’s body pieces of delicate layered and printed feathers appear to cross boundaries between jewellery and fashion, while exploring her concerns with the importance of memory and personal identity. The graphic quality of Andrew Smith’s forged steel is also apparent in his large-scale architectural commissions combining fabricated metals such as carbon fibre and fibre optics.
All of these applied artists are well known within the UK, and most have exhibited their work internationally. Many are represented in public and private collections and several have undertaken large-scale public commissions. From railings and door furniture to sculptural vessels and the smallest of earrings, the work of these applied artists demonstrates their uncompromising commitment and also their sheer enjoyment of working within this field.