They like their fountains in Sheffield. The first thing that greets you on leaving the railway station is a wonderful cascade of water. I walked across the city centre to my hotel, and the peace gardens had fabulous fountains and children leaping around them, it seemed every courtyard was running water for the newly warming Springtime.
This watery theme was appropriate as the reason I was in Sheffield was to attend the opening of The Association for Contemporary Jewellery’s 2013 members exhibition “Stain-Less” at the Sheffield Institute for Arts Gallery as part of Sheffield’s annual Galvanise Festival of Contemporary Metalwork. 2013 is the centenary of the invention of stainless steel, and you will have read about my designs for the show in my previous post. My two pieces were now complete and installed in the gallery, and I was excited to see in what company my work was placed.
The other exhibiting members of the ACJ had produced some fabulous work using just about every interpretation of “Stain-Less” from the deadly serious work of Maria Hanson “How Many Years Without Bloodstain?” reflecting on the few years between 1913 and 2013 that the UK has not had armed forces engaged in conflict to the light-hearted “Ultimate Stainless Tie” by Jodie Hook. There was work by Dauvit Alexander “Empire State Human” highlighting the moment when Sheffield lost its steel industry, pieces by Chris Boland, Gill Forsbrook, Nicola Turnbull and Zoe Robertson focusing on the internal chemical make up of stainless steel or its production and work by Rachel Colley and Grace Page extolling the stain removal properties of soap.
My two pieces were based on the Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake. Experience – The Lily is the sharper looking of the two and incorporates some stainless steel dinner knives, a familiar domestic form of the metal. Innocence – Bubbling Brook mimics the innocent action of swishing your hand in a stream. The ink inlays refer to Blake’s pen dipped in the water staining it to write “…songs that every child may joy to hear.”
Of course, half the fun of going to an event like this is not just the pieces on display but the people you meet and the jewellery they wear. There were several ACJ members there; our chairman Terry Hunt who was wearing an interesting brooch depicting an x-ray of the stainless steel pins and plates mending the show photographer’s broken ankle, Annette Petch, Tam Saville, Chris Boland (whose “Flux Rings” were amongst my favourites at the show), new board member Jo Garner and outgoing editor of Findings Muriel Wilson who was wearing Maria Hanson’s “Order and Chaos” 1997 armpiece and a lovely little Ute Decker Brooch. The Lord Mayor of Sheffield and The Master Cutler where also resplendent in their gold chains of office.
The exhibition runs until 31st May, details here but if you can’t make it the catalogue is available from the ACJ by contacting [email protected]