Behind the Scenes Interview with Contemporary Metal

Contemporary Metal represents some of today’s best jewellers and craftsmen

Creativity 4 min read Sep 25, 2019
Behind the Scenes Interview with Contemporary Metal

This week, we asked Philip Noakes about his journey into the design industry, his love for his craft, and his passion for teaching. Philip is co-founder of Contemporary Metal, one of the busiest studios in Perth, which produces stunningly beautiful and intricately crafted jewellery and silver objects.

Not only does their fully equipped studio in Osborne Park sell high-end modern jewellery and silver pieces; they also offer many comprehensive workshops that can take anyone from beginner to skilful handcrafter. And for you, dear readers, Contemporary Metal has generously offered an exclusive 10% discount when you book any of these workshops: Hammered Bangle, Silver Textured Earrings, Stack of Rings, Flexible Shaft and Polishing, and iPhone Jewellery Photography . Just pop in the code silversmith10. Keep on crafting!

I’ve read that your interest in forming metal began when you made a copper and brass candlestick in high school. Can you tell us more about this experience? It’s always interesting to know how one’s passion is ignited!

At school in London in the late 1960s, I was training to be an engineer; but I realised that I was more interested in art classes, drawing, painting, and sculpture. Soon, I started making copper and brass pieces based on the English Arts and Crafts movement. This style from the turn of the century really appealed to me. In fact, today, you can still see some modern pieces based on this type of design.

Was silversmithing your first artistic interest?

With the encouragement of my parents, I attended an information session at Goldsmiths Hall, where I came to learn of the work of renowned silversmiths and goldsmiths. Courses were also available then at Goldsmiths Hall and I decided I would train as a silversmith. After that, I applied to sit the exams for a pre-apprenticeship in silversmithing and was offered a position.

What inspires your design ideas?

Initially, I was inspired by the tradition of Silver and Jewellery Guilds I learnt about in Goldsmiths Hall, the late ‘60s styles in London, and the impact of social change on the arts, architecture, fashion, and music. But one of my biggest influences was Louis Osman, an architect and goldsmith with whom I had a chance to work after graduation. Louis was a distinguished designer of objects in gold, silver, and precious stones, who was commissioned to make the Crown for the Prince of Wales investiture at Caernarvon Castle.

Also, I continue to be inspired by the work of Henning Koppel, a silversmith and forerunner of Danish design. He is known for creating hollowware, flatware, and jewellery for Georg Jensen and, throughout his career, his designs were considered fine examples of modern art.

Do you have a favorite piece of work? What makes it so special?

My favourite piece of work is always the piece I am currently working on, as it brings my experience and design influences to fruition. This piece may be a silver sculptural object or a contemporary gold ring.

I put into my work everything I learned during my early career at Hatton Garden all the way to my stint at Kailis Pearls.

What made you decide to teach your skills and ultimately start up Contemporary Metal?

I have taught since I graduated in London in 1972. My teachers at college instilled in me that a craftsman is obliged to pass on their skills on to the next generation. My passion for the craft of gold and silversmithing inspires me to share this passion with others and keep observing the world around me.

What advice would you give someone wanting to follow a path similar to yours?

The practicing of making skills, the continuous drawing of ideas, and keeping a portfolio of work are a must for any designer.

More important, one must be passionate about the direction they take and make a commitment to continuous professional development throughout their life.

Finally, what has Contemporary Metal got coming up next?

Contemporary Metal has a range of short courses from stacker rings to hammered bangles for beginners through to wax carving and casting for advanced students. Our six-week course, “Learn to Make Silver Jewellery Stages 1 to 7”, is based on projects to develop your making skills.

In addition, we will be advertising a special Christmas present class in December, where you can come to the studio for a day and make and take home gift-wrapped presents like silver earrings, hammered bangles, pendants, and hammered silver rings. I am also working towards a Ring Masters exhibition in Canberra in October 2017 and a solo Sculptural Silver exhibition in Perth in 2019.

Book their popular classes for 10% off!
Contemporary Metal
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Contemporary Metal