I travelled today with the Bluecoat Display Centre gallery team and Robert & Joan Porter with their students to the jewellery quarter in Birmingham.
The first stop was the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, which houses fine collections of techniques, materials and displays of workshop settings that give an insight into the historical working life of the trade. Alongside the main collection was a selection of works marking the bicentenery of Pugin.
Metalsmith, Cathy Miles hosted our next visit in her workshop full of fabulous wire works. Cathy's links to Liverpool stem from the Nextmove residency at Liverpool Hope University. After the programme she relocated her practice to a workshop in the Quarter.
Her designs take the form of three-dimensional drawings that document observational view points from everyday life. Birds feature typically in her pieces and recent work references ornametal pattern and traditional forms. Cathy's work comes back to the Bluecoat during May as a feature artist in the Display Centre Window exhibition.
Our final desitination was the Birmingham Assay Office, where we listened to a talk about the history of Hallmarking and discovered what The Birmingham Assay Office does in the 21st century.
The present building is a treasure trove of period features but plans are underway to move to an upgraded building, which will accomodate the extended services that the company offers.
The opportunity to view the spectacular Silver Collection and the Library was a real treat. It emphasised the sense of a continued history and highlighted the dynamic work that is on going though to present times.
The Birmingham Jewellery Quarter is also the home to tool shops, bullion dealers and commercial jewellers. However, apart from a quick browse around the
RSBA Gallery where a lovely display of vintage inspired jewllery adorned the gallery shop, a lack of time prevented more exploration through the streets.
I think a return trip is on the agenda !
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