A new home for silversmithing in Scotland aims to secure a thriving future for one of the country’s great and most ancient traditions.
The Scottish Goldsmiths Trust (SGT) is establishing The Marchmont Silversmithing Workshop as a national centre where up to five silversmiths at a time can design and create stunning pieces from precious metals.
Thanks to a generous bequest it is being fully equipped with the entire collection of tools, machinery and books built up by celebrated Scottish master silversmith Graham Stewart, of Dunblane, who died in 2020.
These include the tools used to create a magnificent sculpture, based on the Honours of Scotland, which the Queen presented to the Scottish Parliament on the opening of its new building in 2004 – and which is the starting point for tours of the building.
The SGT convened a panel of acclaimed silversmiths to select four exceptional tenants for the workshop – with the final bench being reserved for short-term residencies.
They will be part of a wider creative community, based at Marchmont House in the Borders, which is dedicated to carrying forward the spirit of the Arts & Crafts Movement.
Three of the silversmiths are already living on the great estate, near Greenlaw, and have been helping with the transformation of the 19th-century former kennels which is being transformed into the new workshop.
The workshop’s Master Silversmith is Ryan McClean, who made the beautiful cake-top decoration for the Queen’s 2022 Platinum Jubilee celebration cake and whose work is included in the V&A permanent collection.
Ryan, originally from Morar, has been based in Sheffield (a hub of UK silversmithing), but seized the opportunity to return to Scotland when the Marchmont opportunity arose.
He said: “I really wanted to come here because Marchmont has such a creative community, the workshop is going to be fantastic and it will be such a great environment to work in. I also hope that having a new home for silversmithing in Scotland will help raise awareness and interest in the craft.”
The workshop, created by SGT in partnership with Marchmont House (as part of their Creative Spaces) and with support from Marchmont Makers Foundation, will be publicly opened on 25 March, as part of the At Home with Silver Weekend.
It will be a business base and a place where the public have the chance to visit during open studio weekends and by appointment. Visitors will learn how Scotland’s ancient tradition of silversmithing is practised today.
The other tenants are early career makers selected for the quality of their work and future potential. They are:
- Hannah Keddie, who trained at Duncan of Jordanstone in Dundee but has been living and working in a small village in the Black Isle. Her work is inspired by the flora and fauna of Highlands coastlines.
- Scott Smith, from near Portsoy in Aberdeenshire trained and worked in Glasgow. He is an award-winning maker who uses precious metals and reclaimed wood and is influenced by early Pictish carvings.
- Katie Watson, from North Berwick, who is inspired by her love of Arran. Her designs are inspired by walks through woodlands, along the coast and across mountains.
Despite her talent and dedication Hannah feared that the impact of COVID-19, the lack of professional opportunities and the expense of setting up her own workshop might threaten her dreams.
She said: “It’s really exciting to be one of the first tenants. The workshop will be absolutely amazing for silversmithing in Scotland because there definitely need to be more places where people can go to learn about it.
“I remember thinking at university, and towards the end of COVID ‘what am I going to do?’. It was quite stressful, and I thought that maybe I’d have to put things on hold.
“Having somewhere to set up a business, with all the equipment and the tools, and being around the other makers will be great – I love all their work, it’ll be so inspiring.”
Scott, who uses woodchips from spoons he carves as part of his silver work, uses some of the same ancient hammering and raising techniques as the Picts.
He said: “During lockdown I was at home on the farm again, after being in Glasgow for six years, so I reconnected with the area and the woodlands. My work became about the sense of home and identity I have in Scotland.
“This is also influenced by the exhibits at the National Museum of Scotland with its Pictish collections and archaeological finds like the Galloway hoard.
“When I heard about this opportunity it was just great. I really admire the aims of SGT in celebrating traditional craft and contemporary ways. And then I fell in love with the ethos of Marchmont as well.”
Now at a pivotal stage in his career he believes the workshop will allow him to experiment with bigger and bolder pieces and raise his profile with potential customers.
Katie, who moves to Marchmont in February, said: “I’m very excited by this – there really is not much out there for silversmiths as they try to establish themselves after graduating. This initiative is hugely helpful to people like me as we try to build a future.
“One of the wonderful things about Marchmont is the countryside around me. My work is strongly inspired by Scottish nature and wildlife, and now I’ve got so much right on my doorstep.”
The SGT is Scotland’s national charity for silversmithing and jewellery and The Marchmont Silversmithing Workshop will be a major contribution to its work as a champion of education and development across the gold and silversmithing sector.
Ebba Goring, SGT Chief Executive, added: “We believe that a thriving silversmithing sector will make a valuable contribution to Scotland’s worldwide reputation as a centre for culture, craft and creativity.
“The workshop will help strengthen and build on this reputation by providing a national home for silversmithing.
“This is a place where some of the finest contemporary established and early career silversmiths will be able to carry forward Scotland’s world-renowned and ancient traditions in new and exciting ways.
“Right now it’s incredibly difficult to establish a fully equipped workshop with everything that businesses need to develop and thrive – this will be a place where makers can benefit from being part of an inspirational creative community.”
The Marchmont Silversmithing Workshop will provide regular opportunities for the public to discover more about working with precious metals, to meet the makers and purchase beautiful, contemporary silver.
Lucy Brown, Director of the Marchmont Makers Foundation, said: “The ethos at Marchmont is in the spirit of the Arts & Crafts movement, inspired by the natural world.
“The addition of the silversmithing workshop alongside other traditional crafts based here will further enrich the cultural profile of the Borders and be a welcome addition to Marchmont Creative Spaces.”
Picture by Colin Hattersley.
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Notes for editors
About the project
- For more about the four silversmiths see the attached information.
- The project is supported by the William Grant Foundation and the Marchmont Makers Foundation
- The tools, machinery and much more were kindly donated by the family of the late Graham Stewart
- See scottishgoldsmithstrust.org/marchmont-silversmithing-workshop.
- Tickets for the At Home With Silver weekend are available from https://www.tickettailor.com/events/marchmonthouse/830882
About The Scottish Goldsmiths Trust
SGT is the national charity for Scotland’s celebrated jewellery and silversmithing sector. It believe the sector is a cultural and economic asset in a modern, outward-looking nation and SGT aims to preserve its past, support its present and safeguard its future by delivering a dynamic range of programming and strategic leadership.
By working in partnership and collaboration with makers, educators, industry, and other related organisations, SGT encourages investment and innovation in the sector, nurturing new talent and career development through awards, mentorship, workshops and commissions. Exhibition and promotional opportunities grow audiences at home and abroad, building on Scotland’s reputation for high quality design and craftsmanship. SGT advocates for sustainable and responsible practice through our internationally renowned Ethical Making Programme.
Charitable aims are to:
- Promote and support the jewellery and silversmithing trade in Scotland and beyond
- To support education in jewellery and silversmithing
- Increase public knowledge and understanding about jewellery and silversmithing
- Encourage the collection of fine examples of jewellery and precious metals
- Promote Scotland as a global centre of excellence for design and the crafts
- Safeguard and promote our jewellery and silversmithing heritage
- Support the adoption of sustainable and responsible practices in jewellery and silversmithing.
- For information about SGT contact Ebba Goring Chief Executive on 0131 557 6938 or 07881 623826 or [email protected]
- For media information contact Matthew Shelley at SFPR on 07786 704299 or [email protected].
- Marchmont House is a 1750 Palladian mansion near Greenlaw in the Scottish Borders.
- It was awarded the 2018 Historic Houses/Sotheby’s Award following a seven-year restoration, which was described by the jury as “stunning”.
- The house has one of the finest Georgian and Arts & Crafts interiors in Scotland.
- It is open to the public for a limited number of days each year, for tours and special events.
- The Marchmont team is dedicated to bringing the house alive as a home for makers and creators, celebrating innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship
- The Creative Spaces project is entirely privately funded by Marchmont Farms Limited and has not called on grants from the public sector or charities – which are facing immense demands for their limited resources.
- The studios and workshops have been created by the conversion of a series of 19th-century outbuildings round a courtyard near the house and its spectacular walled garden.
- The project’s value has already been demonstrated by the establishing of The Marchmont Workshop, which has saved the great 19th-century tradition of Arts & Crafts rush seated ladder back chairs for a new chapter in the Scottish Borders.
- Visit www.marchmonthouse.com for more information.
About Marchmont Makers Foundation
- The foundation makes grants, donations and gifts to individuals and organisations who share its ambitions.
- The key focus areas for supporting artists are:
- funded residencies in the creative spaces.
- Providing opportunities/places to nurture creativity in the local community including garden/environmental/work spaces/organisations
- Enabling access to creative opportunities that would not otherwise happen.
- The foundation has developed partnerships with Visual Arts Scotland and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland amongst others, but is keen to establish links with charities using creativity to further their cause within the Scottish Borders and beyond, welcoming approaches from like-minded organisations.
- Marchmont Makers Foundation is a registered charity No. SC048981 – v124
- See https://marchmontmakers.org
The Scottish Goldsmiths Trust, Clockwise Offices, Commercial Quay, 84 Commercial Street, Leith. Edinburgh. EH6 6LX. The trust is a Registered Scottish Cha