THE built environment has inspired the work of many an artist, but for silversmith Andrew Fleming, it was a career that ‘could have been’ that inspired his structural designs.
“I actually originally studied to be an architect,” he says.
“I really enjoyed the modelling aspects, but once I finished the initial course I realised the real world of architecture wasn’t really for me.”
The 23-year-old from Fyfe packed up the plywood and headed back to the Glasgow School of Art to try his hand at silversmithing, using his architectural models as inspiration to inspire pieces like Construct, a set of three ladles based on scaffolding and the built environment.
“I didn’t really expect to find so many links between the two,” he says. “In the same way that architects require certain skills, there were so many skills and techniques I had to learn for silversmithing but then also opportunities for real creative expression as well.”
The gamble paid off last week when Andrew was one of two students to take home a New Designers Goldsmith’s Company Award.
Founded by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, the awards recognise outstanding and innovative work exhibited at New Designers, the annual showcase of work from design graduates.
Andrew won in the silversmithing category, while his Glasgow School of Art peer Miki Asai scooped the jewellery category for a Japanese-inspired 18ct gold brooch made of almost 200 hand-wound gold springs and small disks.
The pair will receive the opportunity for work experience in a professional workshop at the Goldsmiths’ Centre, plus a bursary to cover living expenses, and a student hallmarking package including a 10-year registration at the Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office, which has been responsible for the testing and hallmarking of precious metals for 700 years.
The Goldsmiths’ Company contributes to more than 300 charitable causes, which includes dedicating a significant spend towards the support of those in its trade, funding education and training programmes for up-and-comers, affordable studio space, and bursaries for materials for established artists and pensions for those who have retired.
Prime warden Judith Cobham Lowe says the company is “delighted” to be able to recognise the craft’s up-and-comers.
“We are proud to back the next generation of industry stars through our support of New Designers, the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s educational activities, and the London Assay Office’s special packages for students, among many other schemes.”
Andrew says the prize is an exciting addition to what will be a packed year as an artist in residence at the Glasgow School of Art.
“I’m excited to be able to use their facilities to further develop my work and really keep the ball rolling after university, but an opportunity to become properly affiliated with the Goldsmiths’ Company is invaluable,” he says.
“Working with a master silversmith is such a great opportunity to really learn all I can, and everybody there is world renowned in their field and can introduce me to key people in the industry.
“I’d love to one day have my own workshop, and my own brand – my name recognised – but I’m completely open to seeing where this journey takes me.”