Home / News / The Scottish Gallery Remembers Dorothy Hogg, MBE

The Scottish Gallery Remembers Dorothy Hogg, MBE

11 April 2022
Dorothy Hogg in her studio, photo: John K McGregor

We are very sad to announce the passing of one of the great heroines of modern jewellery and outstanding art educator, Dorothy Hogg, MBE (1945-2022). She died peacefully at home last week after a long battle with cancer. It was a privilege and an honour for The Gallery to celebrate the life and work of Dorothy Hogg, MBE last month in our tribute exhibition – Modern Heroine. We would like to thank everyone who visited The Gallery near and far, who came to enjoy and marvel in her work and who also shared stories of this special artist – family, friends, colleagues, fellow artists, students and numerous curators. Dorothy devoted her life to her craft and to art education and her influence will be felt for decades.

My work changes echoing changes in me. As I have been exhibiting since the 1960s my work has developed over the decades. The underlying dialogue is with silver and ways of exploring the interaction of the body with jewellery. I engage interest by using intriguing geometry or subtle sound or by using light passing through transparent enamel to cast colour onto the skin or by making a piece to be touched or played with. I like the challenge of dealing with the wearability of jewellery. All my pieces are extremely wearable even if they look as though they may not be at first glance. I enjoy the surprise when the wearer finds out their finger actually fits the strange geometry of a ring

Brooch, Artery Series, 2004
Lapis & Gold Cube Ring, 2014

Early days

Dorothy Hogg was born in Troon in 1945, a small seaside town in Ayrshire on the west coast of Scotland where her father William Hogg and grandfather James Hogg each had a traditional jewellery business. In both shops there was a hive of activity where watch and clock making, repairing, optical testing and prescribing, and the retailing of jewellery, silverware, clocks and watches took place.

As far back as I can remember I helped in both shops. I was fascinated by the way my father and grandfather’s skill was focussed through an eyeglass on the small beating heart of a watch, and the tiny coordinated movements associated with that discipline.

Dorothy Hogg’s grandfather’s shop in Troon, 1920s
Dorothy Hogg, 1974

My Aunt May’s pearl restringing box with her reels of fine silk, her notebook and a photograph of her with my grandfather and other employees outside his shop in the 1920s. Tucked into her notebook was a photo of my father who was a noted golfer and the family were proud of his success

Dorothy progressed to Glasgow School of Art in 1963 where she specialised in jewellery and silversmithing, graduating in 1967. Leslie Auld ran the department with James Seal and the respected silversmith and engraver William Kirk assisting him on a part time basis. In her final year Dorothy won a Diamonds International Award for a platinum ring and experienced the international publicity campaign spawned by the competition.

I have been described as a silversmithing jeweller; being taught by silversmiths at Glasgow might explain this.

Dorothy attended the Royal College of Art from 1967-1970 – the only visual arts postgraduate institution at the time. During this time Dorothy worked in plique-à-jour enamel and sculptural angular forms; exploring other materials including titanium, silver and gold

Necklace and rings, 1967, plique-à-jour enamel, silver
Dorothy Hogg, 1974


From 1970-1981 Dorothy was part-time lecturer at Glasgow School of Art and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee. In 1985 she was appointed Head of the Jewellery & Silversmithing Department at Edinburgh College of Art where she championed the role for over 20 years.

I must have engaged with over 2000 students from many countries in my teaching life, and it gives me continuing pleasure to hear of their developing careers.

Dorothy Hogg in the Jewellery & silversmithing Department, Edinburgh College of Art, photo: Shannon Tofts

In 2001 Dorothy Hogg was awarded an MBE for her services to silversmithing and jewellery and in 2005 won the Brilliantly Birmingham Jewellery Award; awarded to the jeweller who has made the greatest contribution to the world of designer-maker jewellery.

Ann Little wearing a Dorothy Hogg necklace
Brooch, Spirit Level Series

The Art of Lyric Jewellery | by Dr Elizabeth Goring

Used by a master, the language of jewellery is uniquely potent and intimate. Very few have the skill to use it as fluently as Dorothy Hogg, whose work provides a masterclass in making jewellery speak from the soul. Her jewellery is often characterised as restrained, but to do so risks missing its profundity. Beneath that minimalist exterior lies a depth of expression that pierces the heart; it can perhaps be described best as three- dimensional lyricism. Yet this pellucid exposure of Dorothy’s innermost feelings through the concentrating lens of jewellery speaks softly. Her voice is never didactic or hectoring, never insisting on its primacy over resonances from the lives of her jewellery’s wearers. She speaks the language of jewellery with an understated eloquence, offering dialogue and reflection, not dominance.

A lifetime of conscientious commitment – to family, students, work – is mirrored by the painstaking nature of her making. As she points out, even her most spontaneous expressions are ‘meticulously planned’. The fluency of her jewellery appears effortless, but every maker knows this requires the highest level of technical and aesthetic skill: such apparent simplicity is invariably deceptive. The visual integrity of Artery Series Necklace 2005, for example, veils the complexity of its articulation, the careful attention paid to the way it hangs, the expert handling of taper; while its intrinsic coherence only heightens the impact of those startling flashes of red.

Necklace, Artery Series, 2005, silver and red felt, photo left: Shannon Tofts

The sophistication of tone and colour in Dorothy’s jewellery equals her command of form. There is a depth of richness and nuance in her signature grey/black palette, paired with sensitive handling of surface. When colour is used it is invariably striking and dramatic, its appearance seemingly punctuating significant moments in her life and work. She favours deep primary hues of red and blue, used for their ability to evoke passion or angst. Her response to the visceral power of these colours is both instinctive and informed.

Spirit Level Brooch II, 2022, silver and 20ct gold

Wear Dorothy’s jewellery and discover further stimulation for the senses and emotions. She employs movement to create sound, a discreet music for the ears of the wearer; surfaces engage the sensation of touch. Her deft organisation of elements, and variations on their physical balance, create a spiritual calm at the eye of life’s storms. Brave and inspiring, driven by the maker’s own subconscious, this is jewellery that is always responsive to, and respectful of, its wearer. Allusive yet elusive, it speaks of, and to, the soul with quiet eloquence and spare elegance: a lyrical paean to life.

– Dr Elizabeth Goring, The Art of Lyric Jewellery, August 2014

Set of Rings, Touch Series, 2011-2012, silver
Brooch, Touch Series, 2014, silver with red beads

Victoria & Albert Museum Residency

In 2008 Dorothy was offered the opportunity to be the first craft resident in the new Sackler Centre at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

I was most interested in the jewellery collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum with an emphasis on symbolic meanings...I also found the development of certain techniques intriguing such us the necklaces with seed pearls from the early 19th century. These were fascinated because of way the seed pearls were sewn with horsehair onto pierced mother of pearl supports.

Dorothy working in her studio at the V&A, London, 2008. image: Victoria & Albert Museum
Brooch, Artery Series, 2010, acrylic, red pigment, silver and seed pearls

A Modern Heroine

In 2021 The Goldsmiths’ Company announced the acquisition of a series of seminal works by Dorothy. You can read the full story here and listen to a recording of Dorothy discussing the pieces with Amanda Game here.

Hogg enjoys the freedom she feels working in silver, and the repeated oxidised silver cones with their 18 carat gold ‘tips’ which make up the circular form of the brooch exemplify both the beauty of Hogg’s muted colour scheme and her mastery of the hollow form, which gives volume without weight. The circular form has a long history in jewellery, and Hogg describes the piece, made shortly after the Millennium, as being ultimately about the passing of time.

In March 2022, The Gallery celebrated the outstanding artistic achievements of Dorothy Hogg, MBE with the exhibition Modern Heroine. You can view our short film below showcasing some of the pieces that featured in the exhibition.

The Scottish Gallery hosted Dorothy Hogg | 10 Year Retrospective in 2004, and celebrated a retrospective exhibition in October 2014. You can view the associated publication here.

Dorothy Hogg modelling her pin, 2017
Dorothy Hogg 10 Year Retrospective Publication, 1994
Handwritten note from Dorothy Hogg, 2017

Sign up to our news and events