Catherine Sawyer from the Grundy Art Gallery


Catherine Sawyer, gallery officer at Grundy Art Gallery, talks about the contemporary jewellery items for sale:

Clancy Mason: Can you tell us a little bit about your role at Grundy Art Gallery?

Catherine Sawyer: I have worked at the gallery just over 17 years; it is a fascinating job with many facets which never stay the same, combining visitor service with more office-based activities.  The gallery is a wonderful environment to work in.  I meet many different people every day. Grundy has a very exciting programme of contemporary exhibitions on show throughout the year, giving the viewer the chance to see works by artists with both national and international recognition.

Alongside the day-to-day tasks I manage the gallery shop and for the past 12 years have had the privilege of showcasing designer-makers of jewellery from all over the UK in spotlight exhibitions within the foyer area promoting craft and design. One of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of this opportunity is watching the development of each featured jewellery designer and seeing the flourishing careers of the new graduates, many gaining international recognition. The showcases change four times annually, focusing on local artists over the winter season. Over the years I have built up a good rapport with many of the makers who still stay in touch.

CM: How do you source the designer–makers on show?

CS: The jewellery artists are found and invited to exhibit throughout the year. I visit the New Designers Exhibition at the Design Centre in Islington yearly.  This is an invaluable chance to meet the new graduates of the year from universities across the UK all under one roof showing both experimental prototypes and works ready for sale.  I also visit the British Trade Craft Fair held in Harrogate where I get to meet the established designers who have gone to the next level and set up their businesses and the Design Quarter of the Jewellery Exhibition within the Spring Fair at the NEC Birmingham. It was a lovely surprise watching the catwalk show at the NEC last Sunday to see jewellery by Sally Ratcliffe on one of the models; the catwalk was a first glimpse of the jewellery designs that will go to the capital later this spring and summer. Sally is based in Sheffield and has shown with Grundy in the past.

CM: Can designer-makers submit work to sell at the Grundy Art Gallery?

CS: As well as actively searching for the artists, on occasion the gallery is sent information directly by the maker asking for exhibition space. The aim of the gallery is to showcase a cross-section of UK designers that may not otherwise be seen in the North West alongside local talent. If artists contact the gallery directly about a showcase we ask that they submit information about their work via post or email so we are able to consider the collection thoroughly. The gallery would need good quality images, either on CD or high resolution attachments (if the CD needs to be returned we ask for a stamped addressed envelope), a bit about them and an artist’s statement. For the works themselves we would also need a list of pieces for exhibition with information about the medium and a wholesale price list.

Grundy Art Gallery represents jewellery artists that have set up in business and also offers advice to anyone wanting to reach this level. It is always a good idea to come along and have a look at what is on show in the gallery showcases. Each individual gallery will have its own way of working with craft artists so it is always a good idea to look at websites for information and contacts as well as looking out for opportunities through craft organisations and in the press.

There is a very varied range of jewellery items on displayed at the moment using many mediums and techniques.  At the moment we have works on show made from sterling silver, acrylic, wood, leather, anodised aluminium, felt, silk, glass, brass and surgical steel. Each piece of jewellery for sale is a little art work in its own right; all these works are for sale and can be taken on the day of purchase.

CM: Do you have any local designers currently on show?

CS: The local designers on show at the gallery are Sarah Louise Jay – amazing architectural pieces inspired by the Winter Gardens in laser cut walnut, Colette Halstead – kiln fused glass one, collection featuring leaves and landscapes, Poppy Sparkles Designs- delicate button and crystal and Yappers Chappers Designs –  edgy brass, leather and silver.

CM: Can you tell us about some of the other designers you are currently showing?

CS: Two featured artists we have on sale at the moment are John Moore and Anna Wales.

I first met John Moore as a new graduate from MMU in 2002, working with anodised aluminium – a medium he still uses today. John has left the Northwest and is now based in Brighton where he is producing new collections inspired by the natural world.  Over the years John has collected many awards and exhibited worldwide. The pieces on show in the gallery are from two ranges: Electra and Vane.  Please have a look at John’s website to see more fabulous images and the story behind the works.

Anna Wales I met at the Origin Fair 2011 in London where I spoke to her at length about a fantastic range of jewellery she was making from hand produced felt and sterling silver. Each of her works carries on telling a story after the customer has made a purchase. The felt is handed crafted and attached to beautiful sterling silver necklaces, bracelets and rings.  Each of the clasps is also a unique design. The felt does wear after a number of years leaving behind a negative of what was once there, making each piece very personal to the owner. Anna has a number of beautiful ranges for sale that can be seen on her website.

As an ambition, if the opportunity arises, I would really like to work with one or more of the craft design studios from around the UK, the Cockpit Studio being one example.

Other artists on discplay include:

Prices range from £6.00 to £415.00. Grundy Art Gallery are offering 10% discount until Easter 2013 for anyone quoting the altblackpool article.

The gallery is open 10.00am until 5.00pm Monday to Saturday.

2013 shows designer-maker shows:


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