An exhibition celebrating five decades of modern silversmithing design by international silversmith Grant Macdonald officially opened last night.
The event was opened by Baroness Fairhead, minister for trade and export promotion, who introduced Macdonald and his history in the industry.
Macdonald specialises in custom-made silver and gold items, and he received the ‘Queen’s Award for Enterprise’ in international trade in 2006. His pieces draw on Britain’s cultural heritage, but many also take inspiration from numerous countries across the Arabian Peninsula.
In February UK jewellers raised concerns of a silversmithing skills shortage and the viability of its future as a craft skill in Britain. Macdonald told Jewellery Focus: “I think we have a huge skills shortage. The Goldsmiths Centre are doing everything they can and are turning out fantastic quality apprentices, but it takes five years to learn the trade. So I think there is a deficit at the moment, I have got a huge amount of work and not enough people to do it.”
He mentioned the importance of building a business: “That’s what I am really keen on trying to do with this exhibition. It’s about encouraging singletons to take somebody on in their business. Once there are two or three of you there is a lot more momentum for the company to grow.”
Macdonald also said that exporting should be a key consideration for future silversmiths. “Unless you export its very possible to die, since there isn’t a retail appetite for modern silver, or even for reproduction silver. You have to find the right people to sell to.”
He added: “I am very passionate exporter, you have to open your eyes and go somewhere, it’s no good sitting by the phone thinking people are going to phone you up.”