Wendy Ramshaw | Three Cone Necklace13 Apr 2020
Acquired for The Goldsmiths’ Company Collection
We are delighted to announce that The Goldsmiths’ Company Collection has acquired Wendy Ramshaw's Three Cone Necklace from 1982. Goldsmiths' Company Curator, Dr Dora Thornton, explains the significance and history of this iconic piece of jewellery and you can read the article here and a full insightful report on their acquisitions here.
An iconic piece from the Wedgwood Series, which was a result of a residency with the factory c. 1982, this example belonged to Wendy personally and she is pictured wearing it below at the opening of her Wedgwood exhibition at the V&A in 1982 (with Barbara Cartlidge, Director of Electrum).
The Wedgwood Series
During the early 1980s Wendy Ramshaw embarked on a collaboration with Wedgwood which resulted in the Wedgwood with Wendy Ramshaw Collection. Here she explored the properties of ceramics, creating jewellery that was fabricated using black basalt and jasper in various colours. The ceramic elements were created at the Wedgwood Factory in Barlaston and subsequently turned and assembled by Ramshaw in her studio.
The Three Cone Necklace features beads made of Picasso Jasper lathe-turned to forms of spheres, hemispheres and cylinders, threaded onto silver with a drum shaped silver fastener hallmarked WR. With its clean and simple form and the restrained colouring, this necklace captures a contemporary take on the combination of material and craftsmanship that was appreciated back in the eighteenth century.
The Wedgwood collection was launched to coincide with a retrospective of Ramshaw's work held at the V&A in 1982-1983. Wendy is quoted reflecting on how the Wedgwood series came to be:
In 1981 I was offered a small exhibition of my work in the Jewellery Gallery at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and I decided to develop ceramics for jewellery. Shirley Bury encouraged me to approach Wedgwood. I thought their industrial technology, finely developed clay bodies and highly controlled firing would achieve a technical perfection not possible in my own studio. I made approximately 100 drawings for Wedgwood and waited for the beads and shapes to arrive. I soon abandoned the drawings and began working directly with the units, assembling jewellery by trial and error unlike anything I had arrived at through the process of drawing.Wendy Ramshaw
The Three Cone Necklace is illustrated on the front cover of the V&A publication, A Retrospective Survey 1969-1981 by Shirley Bury (see below). The necklace also featured on the V&A London Underground poster Avant-Garde, 1992 (pictured in A Life’s Partnership p89). A further necklace from the same series was featured in the cover of Arts Review in March 1983 (see image below).
Many examples from this series are held in museum collections including the Wedgwood Museum who have a fine example in black basalt. Ramshaw marvelled in the method used to create such a piece and she reflects on using a replica of a lathe Josiah Wedgwood installed in his works in the eighteenth century:
I frequently refer to my use of the lathe as not unlike the potter’s use of the wheel. The way in which thinking and feeling suggest a series of shapes seems to be similar. The lathe is a liberating tool enabling me to work with greater speed and accuracy and allowing me to spend more time developing ideas.Wendy Ramshaw
For further reading you may wish to explore two publications that are available to purchase on our website. A Life's Partnership (below left) presents a beautifully illustrated career with archive images and quotes from Wendy Ramshaw herself. Wendy Ramshaw The Scottish Gallery Collection (below right) allows you to explore works available to purchase at The Scottish Gallery.
This May The Scottish Gallery hosts an online tribute to Wendy Ramshaw - Wendy's World where you can view available works including Ramshaw's signature ringsets.