Posts

Q&A – maker of the week: Bethamy Linton

Hammering away, delightfully.

Immersed in the family business of metalsmithing practically from birth, Bethamy Linton started formally working with her father making silver flatware and restoring antiques from the age of 16. Later she trained formally and also in apprenticeships and mentorships in fine jewellery, art and object design.

In this short (and sweet) Q&A, Bethamy gives us a snapshot of her making world and how she upholds the mantle of being a fourth generation silversmith and jeweller.

Read on …

What is your craft? How do you like to describe yourself?

I’m a silversmith.

Your studio – where and what is your studio/workspace like?

When I first answered this question in March 2019, I had three! But it was one too many to handle; so now, since early 2020, I have just two (phew)!

I gave up my city pad, where I did small scale hand makes and taught in a shared space with six other artists. Now I can spend more time in my Gidgegannup workshop, as my son is in school five days a week (theoretically). The workshop is housed in what used to be an emu incubator; it is beautiful, surrounded by trees and filled with things I love.

I am also renovating my family’s workshop in Maylands where I make larger scale silverware and need to make a lot of noise and mess. I’m planning to hold classes and workshops there. It’s filled with generations worth of metal, tools, dust, grime and love.

Which of your tools do you love the most and why?

Oh, I don’t know! I have a lot to love. I love my rolling mills because they have facilitated so much for me.

I have a beautiful collection of hammers too, some are new and purchased from Germany with the help of my beloved mentor Hendrik Forster; others are well used and loved by my father (I have an excellent raising hammer that he brought back from England in the 1970s when he went to study at uni’ there) and others that were my grandfather’s, like the chasing hammer that I use to make my icons, which have now become indispensable to me.

I also recently bought a PUK5 welder which is changing my life, one job at a time.

Your inspiration – what really pumps your creative heart?

Most of my visual references begin somewhere in the natural environment; I am mostly diverted by native flora and fauna, especially those with which I have a personal relationship, and then also by history and the passage of time.

I love challenges in my creative work, I like to continually build new skills and I like making work that surprises me.

Bethamy Linton, Heritage collection pendants, Western Australian wildflowers, in the traditional Linton Sterling Silver style

Bethamy Linton, Sterling silver Heritage Collection pendants, Western Australian wildflowers, in the traditional Linton Silver style for Mundaring Arts Centre.

What was the spark that made you choose this particular medium?

It was always there, I grew up surrounded by it; that smell of metal and grease.
(Read more about Bethamy’s ‘immersion’ below.)

Your working style – how do you like to start on a project and then progress it? Do you stick to a working schedule 9-5 or flex around a bit? Do you play loud music? Are your pets welcome in your space?

My process has changed a lot since I had a child; I used to immerse myself in work. I used to sit around and think about it for hours. Now I just have to use the time I have and tear myself away when I need to go back to my family with my whole self.

I try to stick to a schedule, and I try to pace myself so I’m not up until dawn on projects anymore. I love having pets in my space, for 10 years my dog was my constant studio companion, I also had a lamb at foot that I was bottle feeding for a time.

Mostly I like quiet, but sometimes I’ll listen to music or a podcast.

What are you working towards right now?

Balance!!! No really – I’m trying to build my classes as a part of practice that delivers a regular income. I’m also working on finding a way to streamline the production of Linton Silver and separately I have a hollowware commission that is leading and supporting a new body of work (vessels) that I have wanted to lean into for some time… as well as other jewellery commissions and silverware orders.

Update: I’ve been shifting my practice a bit this year [2020]; focusing on higher end jewellery pieces as a product line to better support my commission practice (as I seem to have come across a lot of high end jewellery commissions lately). That’s a whole lotta fun, I’ve also started using ethically sourced Australian gem stones and am thoroughly enjoying the colour and sparkle they’re bringing to my life.

If you could land the dream commission/exhibition/project, what would it be?

I feel like I already have it! It blows my mind that I can do what I love for a crust.

Of course, it would be amazing if I could focus solely on art works… and, if somebody paid me a steady wage to make whatever I felt like dreaming up – y’know, if there were no strings attached, and if everything I made found a forever home.

But then, I occasionally receive amazing commissions like the aforementioned hollowware commission which essentially does all that! Maybe I need to think bigger. 🤨

[Collected 19 March 2019. Updated 11 June 2020.]

Read more about Bethamy Linton and view some of her work in our Directory – use the links to connect with Bethamy and to commission a unique piece of jewellery, ware or art.

This is a standard set of questions that we ask of all our guest presenters and ‘makers of the week’. They are deliberately low-key.

Post Script from M&S

It’s amazing how in our lifetimes the tradition of the ‘family silver’ has faded. Thankfully Bethamy is able to keep the traditions alive, even if families are not purchasing large sets they are perhaps gifting pairs of serving spoons or platters, which Bethamy designs and makes by putting a contemporary twist on the traditional Linton Silver designs. We look forward to observing how her practice develops over the years and to the opening of her workshops in Maylands.

The Linton workshop was established in 1908 by Bethamy’s great grandfather James Walter Robert Linton, a British trained painter and teacher of art. He was joined in his studio by Mr Arthur Cross, a master jeweller and together they produced commissioned pieces of silverware and jewellery. His son and later his son, Bethamy’s father, also trained and followed in the family business. Linton Silver is held in several major institutional collections, as well as in the homes of royal families and many suburban homes too. It is recognisable for its ‘arts and crafts’ style incorporating Western Australian flora.

On another note and to explain..

Maker&Smith owe the pleasure of highlighting a number of metalsmiths via our platform, thanks to the work we did, producing and facilitating the Adorn program, for the City of Joondalup. It was a delight and a fulsome learning experience to meet and to engage with members of the Western Australian chapter of the Jewellers and Metalsmiths Group of Australia* and other interested makers.

* The Jewellers and Metalsmiths Group of Australia, WA (JMGA WA Inc.) is a membership based organisation which represents jewellery and object practitioners throughout Western Australia. As a volunteer non-profit organisation they provide a forum to promote, support and develop the field of contemporary jewellery.

Do we need a gallery for Contemporary Jewellery?

At the ‘Driven to Adorn’ forum jeweller and gallery director Katherine Kalaf shared her journey as she sought to promote contemporary jewellers in Australia. Setting herself a challenge, Katherine opened the first dedicated gallery in Perth to showcase studio jewellers – in Cottesloe. Now closed since 2007, it has left a hole that has not yet been filled.

When Katherine entered the conversation at the forum, everyone wanted her to start another gallery!

Buying a retail space in Cottesloe was altogether a risk of a different proportion. The financial responsibility and emotional commitment were considerable. At times I had enormous self-doubt. My instincts have always pulled me to go that next step – to see what is there. Looking back with every new venture there was risk but without risk without going into the unknown, nothing changes in your own life and in society at large.

If you missed Katherine’s talk, she has generously shared the text with you here. 

The Driven to Adorn forum took place at the City of Joondalup on Sunday 24 March 2019.

Invitation to Launch Katherine Kalaf Gallery

Katherine Kalaf Gallery promo image

Vogue Australia 1989 Vogue Australia March 1989 Elle Australia 1990

Why we run workshops

At Maker&Smith we set out to inject energy into the craft sector, here, in Western Australia. As well as bringing in skilled makers from overseas to share techniques and networks, we also run workshops and talks delivered by local makers and smiths.
We’ve spent quite a bit of time lately with the good people of Joondalup (a suburb in the north of Perth, WA), thanks to the ‘Adorn program‘, which we contributed to. As we developed a short program of talks and workshops to complement an exhibition of the members of the Jewellers & Metalsmiths Group of WA, we had the good fortune of getting to know local studio jewellers and smiths. So much so that I’m confident we can say many are now our best friends!
[Image above left to right: Claire Townsend, Katherine Kalaf, Sarah Elson, Alister Yiap, Susannah Kings-Lynne,  Melissa Cameron, Bethamy Linton.]

Adorn Workshops

Last weekend Claire Townsend and Sarah Elson delivered workshops on Enamelling and Cuttlebone Casting. We feel very strongly about the power of workshops like these to instil an appreciation and understanding of what it takes to be a skilled maker.

Years in the Making

Years in the making, these artisans are artists as well as makers and teachers – their design training, creative concepts and personal narratives combine with their knowledge of materials and techniques to take their work to a high level. It becomes apparent as participants delve into the basics of these techniques in a 6-hour workshop how hard it is to perfect skills and also the endless possibilities of materials, and their limitations. Making mistakes and failing repeatedly make for good learning. In that short time you realise the long hours, dedication and resilience it must take to be an accomplished maker.
Both Claire and Sarah are also professional teachers. Beyond their art, craft & design training, they’ve been teaching at a tertiary level for over 25 years, each. They have also perfected how best to impart the basics in 6 hours! Not everyone can do this; we get that.

Rigorous Education

Sadly, the degree and certificate courses that Claire & Sarah taught are gradually being cut from our education systems. The times are changing. The depth and rigour of the design, creative and technical skills that we once had access to, are becoming hard to find in the institutions. We watch and wait to see how this will affect the quality of skills and products in our region. (More on this at our Craft Conversations.)

Our Pledge to You

As well as workshops – we know the power of films, talks, demonstrations and open studios too (… to promote a wider understanding of the many years it takes to not only be proficient but to be an outstanding maker.)

We pledge to do our best to engage experienced teachers and accomplished makers. And we hope that in this small way we can generate better skills and greater appreciation of craftspeople.
We are so full of ideas for our program! If only time and budgets can make it all possible.
Soon we will announce our Winter Program – which we are certainly excited about and we hope you will be too.
We love to hear from you about your ideas, so talk to us.

Adorn Workshops – Sold Out!

The upcoming workshops, designed and delivered by Claire Townsend and Sarah Elson, have sold out. There are a couple of tickets left for the ADORN forum of craft conversations on Sunday 24 March 2019, at the Joondalup Reception Centre.

We look forward to seeing you there!

For more information, click on these links:

Adorn Forum & Workshops

City of Joondalup ADORN

Image: Claire Townsend, enamel ring

Melissa Cameron: 1.1.2017

Meet Melissa Cameron and learn more about her contemporary jewellery practice at the Adorn: Contemporary Craft Conversations on Sunday 24 March 2019.

Melissa won the 2017 Raphael Prize and the film by Michael Pisano (Pisano Films) gives you a hint as to some of what Melissa will share with us on Sunday 24 March in Joondalup. She will describe a lot more to do with technique, materials and the complementary inter-activities that emboldened this series of work:

“Cameron’s winning artwork “1.1.2017” catalogues one day of gun violence in the USA. A total of 62 fatal gun incidents happened in 55 places throughout the U.S. on January 1, 2017 with 66 guns involved and 73 people impacted.”

YouTube link to film: https://youtu.be/04qzKouZCO8

Featured: Melissa Cameron, GUN. Art work by Melissa Cameron, depicting through the motifs used and numerical data, the 2012 Sandy Hook mass-murder perpetrated by Adam Lanza.

Portfolio Items