Lecture Programme 2011
A Queen’s Ransom: jewellery of the Tudor queens.
Tudor queens had splendid jewels. This talk draws on many sources to piece together the role that these played in their lives, and in their deaths.
Sir John Boardman
Studying engraved gems through their Illustrations, Impressions and Casts.
The subjects for engraved gems are commonly measured in millimetres, difficult to appreciate or even recognise, even with magnification. From the 16th century on, publication of enlarged drawings was the usual method of reproduction, and, of course, casts at ‘life size’ in various materials, since this was the intended use for intaglios. In the 18th century the production of casts became a major industry and compendia were published. The mid-19th century saw the introduction of photography, although it took some time to exploit this by enlargement. Today, even the scanner can prove useful. Problems of viewing have had no little effect on both scholarship and production.
Nigel Meeks, Department of Conservation and Scientific Research, The British Museum, London, England.
Ancient jewellery under the microscope - beauty beyond the eye
The manufacturing history of jewellery, and indeed of all objects from antiquity, is locked into the metal and materials through the processes of fabrication by skilled artisans and metalsmiths. Examination and analysis is crucial to understanding of the production of the objects and workshop traditions. This technological information and the processes can be studied by a combination of optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy and microanalysis to give a detailed picture of the expertise of past craftsmen.
But in so doing there is a miniature and microscopic world of fascination and beauty that is unseen by the unaided eye but revealed with great clarity by optical and electron microscopy.
The presentation will be illustrated with examples where microscopy has been essential in revealing the materials, metallurgy, construction and finishing of antiquities - from the production of complex multi-component jewellery in Europe, to the gold metallurgy of Central and South America.
Change of speaker, due to the tragic sudden death of Geoff Egan
The use and meaning of engraved gems in English personal seals and signet-rings of the
High Middle Ages.
This talk will discuss the nature and quality of the ancient intaglios
and medieval copies employed in Medieval signets from the 11th to the 14th century, showing that
they were chosen with care and with full regard to their subject matter which was, however, often
re-interpreted to give them a Christian gloss. The exceptional nature of many of the stones
demonstrates that they were not casual finds but acquired through trade and pilgrimage in
Italy and the Levant.
Vicki Ambery Smith
Jewellery inspired by Architecture
In this talk Vicki Ambery-Smith will show how she came to design architectural jewellery. She will trace her development from beginnings in Oxford, followed by studies at the Hornsey School of Art and the Fachhochschule in Germany. She will explain how she plays with proportions and illusion and will also talk about past commissions and future projects.
Cinderella’s Stories: Gold and Silversmithing in Western Australia 1829-2000
The author of 'Gold and Silversmithing in Western Australia: A History' tells the story of jewels and plate in what was known as the Cinderella of the South. Her illustrated lecture will briefly cover the struggling early years from foundation in 1829, through pearling, to the gold rush boom of the 1890s and the advent of the artist craftsmen at the turn of the 19th Century, who dominated until the post World War II mineral boom and the Craft Revival of the 1970s. Some of the contemporary jewellers, who are heir to that legacy and exhibit internationally, will also be featured. The continued links with England explain why western Australian traditions differ from those of the east coast.
The Staffordshire Hoard.
The Staffordshire Hoard burst upon the archaeological world in much the same way as did the Sutton Hoo find, 70 years before. As with the earlier discovery the hoard moved us into new ground; here we see a profusion of superb objects, some that we recognise, others that are new to us, all showing workmanship and artistry of the highest quality. The hoard is strange: consisting mainly of fittings stripped from fine swords; there are none of the feminine objects which are otherwise well known. We are still at an early stage in the investigation of the hoard, but cleaning is underway, and we are starting to see wonderful things.
Early Byzantine gold work.
The Byzantine Empire, like the late Roman one which preceded it, valued jewellery and had a strong goldsmithing tradition. A number of hoards containing splendid material dating to the Early Byzantine period have been discovered. Moreover, there are contemporary images and even written sources allowing us to construct a good picture of style, shapes and types. Nevertheless, it is not always easy to differentiate between Late Roman and Early Byzantine jewellery, and some other art historical questions also remain open.
Links to previous Lecture Programmes