As we welcome in the New Year Guild members know it’s that time of year when our thoughts are focused on the Guild Conference 2009. This will be a special year for the Guild, marking our thirtieth anniversary and we are going to celebrate it in York at the Thorpe Underwood Estate. This venue is a new one for the Guild and offers us high quality facilities. It is situated ten miles west of the City and a bus link will be provided from York Station for any of you coming by public transport.
Conference is a great way to meet other members, take part in workshops and display any of your own work in our main Themed Exhibition. There is also the opportunity to buy tools and materials from our Suppliers, attend talks by invited guest speakers and watch a Master Class on the final morning. It is also a good way to learn more about the Guild in general and meet some of the faces behind the names you see in the Journal. For those of you new to the Guild, if you wish to attend Conference, it is important you book as soon as possible, as places fill very quickly.
This year we are offering six workshops during the weekend plus an Art Attack on the Friday afternoon, with Bonnie Mackintosh. This means we can offer more choice and more places for you. The line up for the Saturday classes is as follows; Enamelling on Steel with John Ball, who will show you the process without needing to acid etch the steel in advance, Experimental Leaf and Foils with Ruth Ball, a day of exploring the artistic possibilities, Plique-à-jour with Phil Barnes, learn the free laying method working with silver, Painting Enamels with Gillie Hoyte Byrom, an invaluable step by step guide, Design Development with Sarah Macrae, an inspiring and confidence building day for those who want to improve their enamel design skills and Transfers with Jane Moore, a close look at decals where Jane will share her extensive knowledge on this subject. Full details of each class are listed in the Conference section of this Journal.
The Master Class on Sunday morning will be Engraving – using hand tools and using the Gravermax system. Phil Barnes and Harry Forster-Stringer, both experts in their fields, will demonstrate the two methods of engraving. We also have a very special guest speaker after dinner on the Saturday night. Fred Rich, the internationally renowned enamel artist, has kindly accepted our invitation to join us and talk about his passion for enamel and how he approaches his work.
Liana Pattihis, an up and coming graduate from Middlesex University who is currently showing work in The Playing with Fire touring Exhibition as well as outlets in New York and Chicago, will be giving a glimpse into her extraordinary enamel world on Friday evening after the AGM. For those who didn’t made it to the Playing with Fire Exhibition in Devon, note that the show started its UK tour as of November 15th, at the Shire Hall Gallery, Stafford, and is there until 4th January. It will then be going onto the Visual Arts Centre in Lincolnshire from 28 Feb – 9 May. A report by Evangeline Long is featured in the BSOE newsletter, October 2008 edition.
Back in late September I went to London to show my work at the Goldsmiths’ Fair, which is always a highlight of my year for many reasons, least of all because the Goldsmiths’ Livery Hall where the show is held is one of the most majestic buildings I know in the City. As ever, many members visited and had a great day out. During this time I was able to set up an affiliation between the Guild and ‘Benchpeg’, a weekly newsletter that offers a signposting facility for the British Jewellery Trade. This means the Guild is now listed on the front page of Benchpeg, where you can easily click onto our name to enter our website. It is free and we can also send specific information that we want listed on the newsletter whenever it is appropriate. If you don’t already receive Benchpeg, have a look at www.benchpeg.com
While I was in London I was also invited to the V&A museum to meet with Juanita Navarro who is the Senior Conservator for Ceramics and Glass. Juanita is currently undertaking a research project in her own time looking at the technique of Émail en résille sur verre, French for ‘enamel in a net/network on glass’, or email en résille (EER). The V&A have a small collection of these delicate pieces that consist of a glass base with cavities lined with gold foil and filled with transparent and opaque enamels. I was lucky enough to handle some of them, to discuss how they were possibly made. Juanita is investigating where and when they were made and by whom if possible, with a view to creating a database of the objects and bibliographic references. Although I could not help Juanita with the historical details, Erika Speel kindly briefed me before my visit with the knowledge she holds on this subject. What was supposed to be a one-hour visit turned into four, going behind the scenes at somewhere like the V&A is a wonderful experience!
Since that time I have been to Edinburgh to the Region ½ annual meeting, which was held on the first weekend in November. I would like to thank Dorothy Cockrell as Regional Representative for a brilliantly well-organised event and to all the members who made me feel so welcome! We met at the Lapidary Club in Leith and despite a fuse blowing when all the kilns were turned on (Dorothy and Tony quickly sorted it out), Pat Johnson came along and calmly showed us how to make and use Riso screens with dry enamel. It was a rare opportunity for me to have a play with enamel using copper panels, which I thoroughly enjoyed and by the afternoon I had really got into the swing of it and came away triumphantly with two completed pieces.
There is still much to be done before Christmas, lots of orders to get out and all that shopping, but by the time you are reading this, I intend to be at home relaxing with my feet up, the cat on my lap sipping a wee dram of a good malt! Happy New Year to you all and I look forward to seeing many of you again at Conference in York.