In the Saatchi Gallery, in Chelsea, West London, the super rich are everywhere. Art collectors, high net-worth individuals and international museum executives wander around an exhibition featuring works worth thousands of pounds.
This is Collect, where the world’s finest galleries select their most exceptional craft work - jewellery, glassware, vases, pottery and pictures - to show off to a global audience of experts and buyers.
And here, on level two, is the only stand dedicated to an entire city. Above, it says ‘Sheffield’.
Four city metal workers and silversmiths have been selected to showcase their wares - necklaces, candle holders, wall hangings and vases - at this most prestigious of events. It is hoped the work will promote the region’s craft skills, and encourage more collectors and investors to think of South Yorkshire when they think of beautiful metal.
“This is an invaluable for raising the reputation of the city when it comes to the quality of metal craft which takes place here, and great for the city to be profiled on an international stage,” says Neil MacDonald, chairman of Galvanize, a partnership set up to promote the city’s contemporary metal trade.
It is the first time anyone from South Yorkshire has been chosen by organisers, the London-based Crafts Council, to appear at the annual fair in its decade-long history. And as it comes to a close today, it’s been a considerable success, it seems.
The artists - Cameron Maxfield, Maria Hanson, Charlotte Tollyfield and Alison Counsell - have sold work for a total value that’s well into five figures. Galleries and individuals from Japan and Russia have been among the buyers. One famous banking dynasty, who we are not allowed to name, have walked away with one of Maria’a necklaces - “it’s exciting,” she says.
While that’s obviously good news for the artists, it’s good news for all Sheffielders too, says Mir Jansen, who has helped co-ordinate the stand.
“The city has a global reputation for producing steel,” she says. “But this shows that we are also gifted at metalwork and design - and the more we promote that the better the economic impact. This is Sheffield shouting about its skills.”
In the Saatchi, today, this metal message, it seems, is getting across loud and clear.
The Saatchi Sheffielders
The four city metal artists appearing at Collect are:
Cameron Maxfield: A one-time steelworker, he trained as a silver sculptor under Sheffield’s twin heavyweights Brian Asquith and David Mellor. His studio is in Persistence Works in Brown Street, city centre.
Maria Hanson: An expert in metalwork and jewellery at Sheffield Hallam Uni, Maria, of Ecclesall, has works in several significant collections including that of Sheffield Millennium Galleries and the National Museum Of Scotland. Her necklaces at Collect were made from old beer bottle lids.
Charlotte Tollyfield: Silversmith Charlotte was born and bred in Sheffield - and counts a silver rose bowl on display at Cutler’s Hall among her finest works. She sold a bowl at Collect within two hours of the doors opening.
Alison Counsell: Hillsborough-based Alison designs wall pieces and decorations inspired by cartography. She teachers metalwork at Sheffield Hallam University.