Manifest: celebrating 40 years of the Designer Jewellers Group

Incredible as it seems, the Designer Jewellers Group (DJG) which I belong to is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year! Originating as an offshoot of the Society of Designer Craftsmen, which was itself founded by William Morris (amongst others) in 1887, the DJG has great heritage.

I’m told that in 1975 when it started there were few outlets for contemporary jewellery. The DJG set out to change this, promoting the best of studio jewellery to the public. The group’s first exhibition was in Goldsmiths’ Hall in 1977. We’ve continued to have strong links with the Goldsmiths’ Company as many of us have exhibited at Goldsmiths’ Fair, and in 1994 the group held a retrospective exhibition at The Hall. In addition the group has exhibited at venues including the Design Centre, Liberty, Harvey Nichols, a number of galleries, shops, fairs and public arts centres across the country, as well as in Japan, Dubai and the USA.

We’ve been exhibiting at the Barbican Centre in London since 1984, and now exhibit there twice a year. Each year (since 1996) we visit the New Designers exhibition to select six of the best new graduates to join us for our winter show. This scheme aims to give the chosen designers not just an opportunity to exhibit and sell their work in a top venue, but also to gain skills and contacts through participating in the running of the show, alongside regular members.

I was selected as a New Designer in 2007 through this scheme, and like many other New Designers went on to become a full member of the group. What I like about it – apart from the obvious opportunity to exhibit at the Barbican, which I love – is that it’s great to be a member of a team. As craftspeople we so often work alone, and being a member of the group gives me colleagues and a peer group, as well as the chance to contribute towards making something better for all of us. We have no paid staff, and members of the group all have to take responsibility and pitch in to make things happen: that’s great.

So I’m glad to be joining the others in ‘Manifest‘, an exhibition to celebrate our fortieth anniversary. For this we were each invited to design and make one piece of jewellery for the hand. I chose to make a ring, others also chose bangles, cufflinks, bracelets, cuffs and a hand flower or Haathphool.

The resulting exhibition will be touring. It’s first venue is the Waterperry Gallery in Oxford. Other venues this year will include The New Ashgate Gallery in Farnham, and the Craft and Design Centre in Leeds.

I’ve included images of a few pieces from the exhibition in this blog post. You can see more of the pieces on the DJG website, and in due course I’ll also write more about my piece and how I designed it. But best of all would be to see the show and associated pieces of jewellery live:

Manifest will be open daily from 16th July – 16th August in the Gallery at Waterperry Gardens, Near Wheatley, Oxford OX33 1JZ.

Visiting Bovey

Just had a lovely day in Bovey Tracey at the Craft Festival. Good to see fellow Designer Jewellers Group​ members Henrietta Fernandez and Ulli Kaiser exhibiting, and Kelly Munro, one of our New Designers from a couple of years back. All their stands looked great.

I couldn’t resist buying some formica and silver earrings from Emily Kidson, and a painting by textile artist Dionne Swift, and so have come home very happy!


It was also good to see an exhibition of Jan Truman‘s sculptural textile pieces in the Devon Guild of Craftsmen Gallery, just round the corner in Bovey Tracey town. I’m very familiar with Jan’s stunning jewellery, which I’ve sold so much of at the Barbican, but this was on a completely different scale!

A bit of a buswoman’s holiday, but most enjoyable!

The Craft Festival is on for the rest of the weekend, and has recently (deservedly) won Devon’s tourism event of the year, so do get along there if you can!

PS Thanks to Dionne for the image of her painting which I swiped from her website: I’m sure her photo is much better than mine.

Standing Tall

The Byard Art Gallery in Cambridge has a great new exhibition on called Standing Tall. It features photography, sculpture and paintings by ten artists who’re inspired by trees and the English woodlands.

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I was asked to supply some jewellery especially to complement this exhibition, which is great – I think this is the first time my jewellery has been exhibited in Cambridge!

Do pop along if you can, as it looks really good.

A Walk in the Park

Leeds Craft Gallery

I’m currently taking part in a group show in the Leeds Craft Centre and Design Gallery: it’s called A Walk in the Park and features the work of ten contemporary UK jewellery designer makers.

Christine Kaltoft jewellery

All the featured jewellers find their inspiration in birds, trees, wildlife, and the flora and fauna found in recreational open spaces.

The other jewellers are Liz Samways, Katie Stone, Joanne Tinley, Charlie High, Glenn Campbell, Kate Rhodes, Karen McMillan, Alison Haddon, and Anna De Ville.

The exhibition runs from 21st March until 27th June 2015 and looks well worth a visit!

Freddie

I’ve been rather quiet on here recently as I’ve been very busy at home: we’ve had a new addition to the family! His name is Freddie, and he arrived just before Christmas. He’s three months old now.

Freddie’s a golden retriever, and is very cute, very confident, and rather a time and attention sponge at the moment!

Nonetheless I have managed to get a package of work off to a new gallery: Ferrers Gallery  in Ashby de la Zouch, for a showcase there until the end of March.

Rook Lane and Back Again

Whilst our building work has taken precedence over my jewellery business this year, I’ve been trying to keep my hand in artistically by rekindling my sketching skills. One of the things I’ve done is to join Frome Sketchers, which has been great fun. Now we have our first exhibition.

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This is one of my sketches of Frome:

Christine Kaltoft, 'Bobble hat', Frome, Frome Urban Sketchers

It’s a friendly and supportive group, and going on a sketch crawl is a great way to take the edge off the terror of drawing in public if you’re not used to it. Plus there’s brilliant homemade cake!

There’s more information both on the Rook Lane website, the Frome Sketchers facebook page, and David Chandler’s website.

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