Even the most successful long-term institution needs the occasional revamp. The annual Goldsmiths’ Fair is as much a fixture on the London art-and-craft-world calendar as the Royal Academy show or the Serpentine Gallery party. Opening its doors at Goldsmiths’ Hall in the City for the 33nd time on September 22, it is widely recognised as the best place in the UK to meet individual jewellery and silverware designers. The scope of style is very wide – about 170 exhibitors in total, with different designers shown on each of the two weeks – yet of late the exhibition had become a little formulaic.
Until last year, that is, when new areas were introduced, including breakfast talks and special exhibitions. Last year it was architect and keen jewellery collector Zaha Hadid; this year the baton passes to Julia Peyton-Jones, the highly regarded director of the Serpentine Galleries. “Design, aesthetic appeal, craft technique and quality were uppermost in my mind when choosing these objects,” she says, “I always try to be objective because personal taste can affect impartiality.”
Julia Peyton-Jones Selects is very different from Hadid’s uncompromisingly contemporary edit. It comprises 23 pieces by talented UK-base designer-makers from around the world, covering both jewellery and silverware, and has something for many tastes. There’s the witty Bra-celet (£600, second picture), a simple gold-plated bracelet with two handmade half-domes, by exhibitor Mara Irsara (the niece of artist Gilbert Proesch, one half of Gilbert and George); a beautiful, woven 18ct gold cuff (£16,950, third picture) by Nina Bukvic, another first-time exhibitor; and the mesmeric Curl ring (£3,600, fourth picture) in 18ct Fairtrade gold by Ute Decker. Other exciting choices include Teri Howes’s DNA earrings (£1,625, first picture), which combine crocheted gold with tiny grey diamonds, and Nan Nan Liu’s silver beaker (£1,600, fifth picture), which looks as if it was caught in a moment, spinning off-centre. All these pieces are, of course, unique.