YOUNG Birmingham jewellery designers are showing off their special hand-made goods and offering Christmas shoppers the chance to buy them.
Centrepiece, featuring the work of nearly 20 designer makers, has just opened in the foyer at Symphony Hall and will be in place until December 23.
The exhibition is in its 13th year and offers a showcase to local talent. New to the group is 23-year-old Becca Williams who is based in Hockley and has just opened a studio in the city’s world-famous Jewellery Quarter.
“There are 15 members exhibiting along with four guests and people from the Design Space workshop,” she says.” I am the youngest member and I love being alongside people with so much more experience and such a wide range of different work.
“The stand is always staffed by one of the designer makers so we can answer questions people might have. You get a real buzz whenever you sell anything – whether it is yours or someone else’s.”
The Centrepiece exhibition is key to encouraging people to see the work which is made locally.
“I do sell through galleries but this exhibition takes our work to lots of different people,” says Becca.
Working mainly in silver, Becca’s ideas are inspired by her childhood holidays.
“My family are from west Wales so every holiday we would pack everything up and head back to Aberaeron at Cardigan Bay,” she says. “So the sea has always been part of my life. And it is what inspires me.
“My first pieces were vases with gulls engraved on them and then I moved onto creating houses which are inspired by seaside homes. I also work with pearls and am now working on a new collection which incorporates driftwood into the pieces.
“My grandmother still lives there so I go back and forage along the beach for it.”
Becca, from Alvechurch in Worcestershire, discovered a love for jewellery-making when she was studying for her A-levels. “I was at Worcester Sixth Form College and taking some really heavy subjects like history and classics which meant a lot of essay writing,” she says. “So in the second year I decided to take a jewellery design A-level just for something different.
“And I just found that I loved it.”
Becca took a one year foundation course at Hereford College of Art where she was able to explore the subject more fully.
“They had a small metals workshop and I was always in there,” she says. “The aim of the foundation course is for you to have a go at all forms of the arts and I did, but I kept disappearing back to small metals.”
Now determined on her path, Becca took a BA degree in Jewellery and Silversmithing at Birmingham City University’s School of Jewellery. Graduating in June 2008 she gained a space in Design Space, a Birmingham City Council-run workshop in Hockley which aims to encourage and support new designer makers.
“Design Space was excellent as it allowed me to start working practically but you also had a lot of support on hand.”
After a year at Design Space, Becca returned home where she created a workspace at her parents’ house, but last week she moved into a studio in Hylton Street in the Jewellery Quarter.
Becca has her long term aims.
“I would love to be properly self-employed as I am still working in a bookshop to fund this,” she says. “It would be lovely to have a shop one day with my workshop attached so people could see me working on the pieces.”