Like most organisations, the last few months have brought new challenges to the Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council, not only in terms of how we operate but the work we do for the industry in supporting and celebrating the brilliant jewellery and silversmithing talent that exists across the UK.
We understood that many of our industry peers, winners past and present, and many of those who follow the activity of the GC&DC were suddenly in lockdown, self-isolating or unable to work from their bench or shared workspaces as normal. So, we thought, ‘how can GC&DC help?’ After all, it’s in our remit to continue to support the trade and its members throughout the year, beyond our annual competition.
In response, the GC&DC launched a series of initiatives to connect with the UK’s jewellery, silversmithing and allied craft communities, inspire creativity and help people to find and relate with others in the trade during what has been an isolating and difficult/challenging time for many.
We kicked off with the launch of a survey among our entrants in early April, designed to help us and others understand how jewellers, silversmiths, designers and craftspeople were working as a result of Covid-19 – but further, how they were feeling.
From this, we discovered that 33% were working from home, while a quarter had no access to their workshop at all. Of those surveyed, 28% said a lack of access to materials was impacting their work, while a tenth of respondents said a lack of contact with others was having the greatest effect on their working.
With many people feeling isolated and others telling us they were craving positive stories of creativity, the GC&DC decided to put our industry outreach to good use. In April and May, we launched a series of social media campaigns and design challenges for the spring and summer months.
Among the first was a call to our followers to share their #StayAtHomeStudios on Instagram, showcasing how they were designing, working and researching from home. In the following weeks, we focused on the themes of #ToolAppreciation and #MemorableGems, with GC&DC followers actively sharing their favourite tools and pieces. We loved the responses we received, and the many conversations and interactions inspired by these social media initiatives.
This was followed by the launch of our #CreativeLockdownChallenges. We were delighted to partner with our Patron Champagne Gosset for a 2D silversmithing design challenge that invited entrants to design a product associated with a coffee morning, on the theme of Reunion. Among the 23 designs entered, the Council, together with Champagne Gosset and silversmith Sponsor Andrew Macgowan , poured over the entries to choose our winner – Clive Bullivant – whose excellent coffee cup featured chased and engraved silver handles with stylised faces inspired by Picasso illustrations. Clive was awarded with a magnum of Gosset Grande Reserve in a gift box.
Alongside this, we hosted a virtual ‘In Conversation’ led by GC&DC trustee and silversmith Andy Putland, who was joined by Jean Pierre Cointreau and Julien Cointreau from Champagne Gosset, and David Stonehouse and Scott Smith, 2019 and 2020 winners of the 2D Silversmiths prize at our awards. Together, David and Scott shared the inspiration behind their winning entries and experience in entering the awards, what this has meant and done for them.
For our second #CreativeLockdownChallenge we joined forces with Brown & Newirth, Special Patrons of our annual awards, for a 2D jewellery design challenge on the theme of Love In Lockdown. With lockdown having a profound impact on relationships, we tasked entrants to design rings sets, love tokens or bridal wear to be gifted to a couple whose love is standing strong despite the impact of lockdown.
In total, 56 designs were submitted, with Brown & Newirth choosing winner Anna Straupe’s Japanese knotted love letter-inspired wearable tokens as their top design, alongside a highly commended love token pendant designs by Charlotte Smallman, both of which will be manufactured by Brown & Newirth in precious metals.
To announce the winner, we hosted a webinar with Brown & Newirth, welcoming Pamela Statham, head jewellery designer at Continental Jewellery UK and a GC&DC judge, and Zoë Harding a renowned GC&DC awards winner and freelance jewellery designer with over 16 years’ experience. Together they embarked on a Deep Dive into Jewellery Design – from hints and tips, to best practice for answering design briefs.
Needless to say, it’s been a busy but inspiring spring and summer for the Council, our peers and industry Patrons and Sponsors. As well as our continuing engagement with our designer maker community on social media, we have also been liaising with other GC&DC supporters on future potential 2D design briefs. These are excellent and will be channelled into the forthcoming competition. Having learnt much over lockdown, we now need to turn attention to our exciting plans for the 2020/21 awards, and will update our followers on this over the coming months.