The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham has announced its first jeweller in residence.
The initiative, in partnership with Birmingham City University’s School of Jewellery, aims to support emerging talent by providing a unique opportunity for budding jewellery designers to work from the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter’s perfectly preserved workshop and have pieces sold in its store.
To secure a place on the bench, entrants were asked to design a two-piece jewellery range inspired by the historic Smith & Pepper jewellery manufacturing firm at the museum.
The winner, and therefore the museum’s first jeweller in residence, has been announced as Fiona Harris.
Fiona Harris, who previously studied at Birmingham City University School of Jewellery, impressed judges with her creative ideas for a pendant necklace and earrings inspired by one of Smith & Pepper’s most iconic designs and the snake-like features in the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter logo.
Commercial Director from Birmingham Museums Trust commercial director, Alex Nicholson-Evans comments: “It has been fantastic to partner with the School of Jewellery on this project. At the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter we celebrate the heritage of the area, but it is also important to support the next generation of jewellery designers too.
“Fiona’s designs stood out as she had carefully considered the history of the Jewellery Quarter to inspire her modern take on the brief. The designs are very wearable and we are looking forward to welcoming Fiona to the museum and to begin selling the stunning pieces.”
Harris is now spending some time at the museum immersing herself in the history and looking through the archives to develop her designs further.
The winning designs will go into production and be available to buy online and in the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter shop from just before Christmas.
The prize also includes £1000 to support Fiona’s work and she will be based at the jeweller’s bench at the museum on a regular basis from October to showcase her work.
The Museum’s first jeweller in residence, Fiona Harris, shares: “I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to be chosen to be the first Jeweller in Residence at the museum and I am excited to get started and finalise my designs. The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter is a fantastic place and I still cannot believe I am going to have the opportunity to work at this amazing site surrounded by so much history.”
The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter is built around the Smith & Pepper jewellery manufacturing factory. In 1981, when the proprietors of the firm retired, it simply ceased trading and locked the door. Today, this factory is a museum, which tells the unique story of the Jewellery Quarter and Birmingham’s renowned jewellery and metalworking heritage.