Wendy Ramshaw (1939 - 2018), an international champion of modern jewellery and ceramics, found success and acclaim through her ambitious forward-thinking designs. Exploiting conventional methods, this British jeweller employed a disruptive yet critical approach to her making; a methodology which in turn earnt many accolades throughout her long career.
Credited with pioneering the wave of jewellery modernism throughout the late 20th century, Ramshaw exercised a holistic attitude, claiming to ‘work with materials and processes that are available...processes that make it possible to do things’. This intrigue in the beauty of man-made structures resulted in deliberately imperfect works, reflecting the universe and natural world around us. In observing this subject matter of inevitability, Ramshaw was said to often be producing her work ‘on a subconscious level’.
Ramshaw became known most notably for her award-winning jewellery ‘ring sets’, building an unmistakable signature style around geometric shapes appearing both delicate yet strong. Though immensely controlled, it was said to be her imagination which offered the impetus for such designs. Combining decisive blocks of colour within precisely placed lines, the rings in their stacked form offered a radically new concept in the field. In turn this form encouraged consideration of the duality of jewellery, existing as a practical object when on the body, and ‘portable’ sculptural object when mounted on a decorative stand. Having started working solely with silver and gold, her later introduction of semiprecious gemstones reflected elements of constructivism, acknowledging a material’s inevitable natural flaws.
We are delighted to offer this group of works by Ramshaw from the artist’s estate and other private collections in the UK. This collection highlights the breadth of her abilities and the range of mediums she used with a cornucopia of ring sets, hair ornaments made from paper, silver and gold from her iconic Picasso series, and an important and unique glass installation piece made in 2007 for her series A Journey through Glass as a result of her residency at Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle.
She noted ‘I work with materials and processes that are available … it’s a holistic, easy approach. I like working with new processes that make it possible to do things.’
View the full selection of Wendy Ramshaw works ⇒
From ceramics to glass, silversmithing to jewellery, textiles to furniture making, crafts have played a complicated and multifaceted role in the cultural, social and art historical history of contemporary Britain that has sometimes been overlooked. During the last few decades, the distinctions between art, design and modern craft have become increasingly blurred. Crafts' growing significance was demonstrated over the pandemic, as the number of buyers of contemporary craft increased by over 270% whilst over the last 15 years, craft sales in Britain alone have tripled to over £3 billion.
In particular, its growing importance is recognised by a younger audience keen to invest in physical disciplines, the artists and their stories. In a world often revolving around the impersonal, modern craft objects have become a conduit for the imagination in our homes, and there has been a growing transformation of outlook concerned with the importance placed on the integrity of the material and ideas.
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