Moray Artists Bursary enables news skills to be brought to the region

In December we announced the successful applicants of the Moray Artists Bursary 2019, with twelve recipients securing grants of up to £1,500 to develop activities, skills and creative practice

 We spoke to one of the recipients, Iona Hall, a jeweller and silversmith based in Moray, to find out how the Moray Artists Bursary will impact her career.

Since graduating from Glasgow School of Art in 2018 with a BA in Silversmithing and Jewellery I’ve been travelling across the UK to learn new skills to help me hone my craft.

After being recognised for my work in the Netherlands, being nominated for the Schoonhoven Silver Award in 2018, and the UK, winning a Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council Award last year, I decided 2020 was the year I wanted to accelerate my business even further.

The impact of the Moray Artists Bursary

Being awarded £1,500 from the Moray Artists Bursary 2019 has already allowed me to travel to London and learn from a master of his craft, John Norgate. In January I travelled to John’s workshop where I undertook a mentorship developing my silversmithing skills, specialising in box making.

During my time with John in London I learned how to make larger pieces, focusing on soldering, hinge-making, correcting distortion due to heat, finishing and polishing. The techniques and insight I gained are something I’m now able to bring back to Moray, with the hope of inspiring future generations of silversmiths.

The Moray Artists Bursary has also enabled me to purchase a polishing machine and silver to help me take forward the new skills I learned from John. Before being awarded the grant I had designed a range of larger scale boxes, which I’ll now be able to create to the highest standard.

Insight into learning from John Norgate

I travelled to London with three designs that I had started to make in my workshop in Moray. While there, John showed me how to solder long seams, make effective hinges and correct any heat distortion that can occur when making larger boxes.

As can be seen through the below images I used new tools to enhance each of my three designs: a large tea caddy, a Bridge set card box, and a small double-hinged triangular box.

Back in Moray I’ll be able to work on each of these creations further in my studio, before returning to John in April to gain further advice on completing the hinges, adding bezels and polishing, and refining each piece.

Applying for the Moray Artists Bursary

One of the reasons I applied for the Moray Artists Bursary is because I believe it gives applicants the freedom to create their own projects in order to develop their work, without limiting creativity.

For me, it has provided an opportunity to enhance my work and learn new skills from someone with a wealth of experience in my field.

In order to ensure a vibrant community of craftspeople and artists in the area, it is vital that we are given the chance to develop expertise, gain inspiration and network with others. This takes time and it can be difficult knowing where to begin, so it’s good to have the support of We Make Moray and initiatives like the Moray Artists Bursary.

Whether you’re a creative looking to take your work in a new direction or, like me, build your skillset, I would definitely recommend applying for any future grants like the Moray Artists Bursary. Everyone involved in the application and awarding process has been very friendly and supportive.

Looking to the future

I’m excited to find out what the future holds for me as I continue to pursue my career as an independent craft silversmith and jewellery maker.

I’m lucky to be able to carry on learning from John, who has kindly agreed to continue to mentor me and pass on his skills and knowledge. In the future I would like to eventually help budding silversmiths in Moray to learn these skills in the way John is passing his on to me now.

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