• Silversmith Rod Kelly’s Jeans Admitted to the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives


    A pair of blue denim jeans owned by QEST Scholar and Silversmith Rod Kelly are the latest addition to the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives.  Read this article, originally published on, to find out more…


    In the late 1800s, Levi Strauss & Co.’s blue denim copper-riveted overalls served as the unofficial uniform of working men, from cowboys to railroad engineers to miners.

    Almost 150 years later, there are those, like silver tradesman Rod Kelly, who still prefer the fit of a 501® jean while toiling away on the job.

    Rod, a leading British silversmith, received his first pair of faded and worn 501® jeans back in 1976 as a gift in the mail after a holiday when he was a teenager. “I distinctly remember the day the parcel came,” says Rod. “They were the most beautiful [thing]. . . they were just about washed out.” Rod was hooked. “I just loved them,” he said.

    When set up his silver workshop years later, Rod chose his favorite jeans as his daily uniform. He bought unwashed 501® jeans in bulk – “10 pairs at a time” – every five to six years. “They go down on my workshop expenses as workshop clothes,” he said. Rod loves how his Levi’s® jeans change over time. “In the workshop, those work trousers, because you shrink them, they become thicker and tighter and stronger.”

    The wear marks on Rod’s Levi’s® jeans reflect the physical effects of the silver work he does. Sometimes tears develop on his 501®s where the silver rubs against his jeans when he is making large works, like dishes. The circle of silver rests on his knee and after months, the edge of the silver starts to cut through the denim. He explains, “I have several pairs that are totally worn out and are all torn in the same place where the edge of the silver eventually cuts the denim as I am caulking the edge of my silver dishes.”

    As a result, Rod is now looking to replenish his current stock. Fortunately for him, our Levi’s® Vintage Clothing—a line of authentic reproductions—offers 501® jeans in classic fits that includes the same 1976 version he bought 43 years ago. Classic shrink-to-fit 501® jeans are also available at stores and online.

    Rod’s silver works reminds us of the roots of Levi’s® jeans as a working man’s outfit of choice. One of Rod’s worn pairs of 501® jeans is the newest addition to the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives and another example of the legend of Levi’s® as durable clothing made to last.

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  • QEST Scholar & Trustee Peter Ting to Feature in V&A Exhibition


    It is traditionally believed that the first porcelain to arrive in Europe was brought from Dehua, China by Marco Polo in 1295 and known as Blanc de Chine, literally meaning white from China. A new display opening at the Victoria & Albert museum this week retells the story of porcelain-making in Dehua, showing historic pieces from the museum’s ceramics collection alongside a selection of new works by contemporary makers including QEST Scholar & Trustee Peter Ting. 

    In 2016 Peter co-founded Ting-Ying gallery which is dedicated to presenting unique and limited edition works in Blanc de Chine porcelain from Dehua. They work with a wide group of artists whose expression of form is increasingly diverse, yet still retains as a starting point the shared history and language of Blanc de Chine porcelain. 

    Artists including Babs Haenen, Lucille Lewin, Liang Wanying, Jeffry Mitchell and Su Xianzhong, will have pieces featured in the exhibition. Alongside the historic pieces, the display will build a bridge between the past and the present, tradition and innovation and break the boundary of Chinese and non-Chinese ceramic practices.

    5 September 2019 – 10 May 2020

    For more details see:

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  • Manuel Mazzotti Wins First Prize in International Bookbinding Competition


    QEST Scholar Manuel Mazzotti was awarded First Prize at the International Bookbinding Competition last week.  His work ‘I DO – I UNDO – I REDO’, a collaboration with illustrator and printmaker Harriet Bruce, won The Complete Book category in the competition organised by the Society of Bookbinders at the University of Bath.

    The International Bookbinding Competition began in 1999 and has developed into one of the most successful regular exhibitions of the craft. Attracting entries from all around the world, its success lies in the variety of work which is represented, ranging from fine binding to restoration and book-arts.

    Manuel and Harriet started by looking at notes on hidden languages and the ‘emergence’ of Michel de Certeau. The resulting books explore the act of ‘emergence’ in both theme and function.  They are bound with material that reveals shapes of wings, a rib cage, and a plant’s bud, suggesting a thing trapped and awaiting release.  Each book in turn become a bud, cage or cocoon enclosing a single pop up page illustrated with a hand printed rubber cut stamp.

    By opening the books the reader forces the emergence of the plant, the body and the insect, marking the sudden and expansive moment in each of these organisms’ existence that announces both death and new life. This illustrates a necessary destruction at the moment of creation that allows the cycle of life, and thought, to continue.

    Huge congratulations to Manuel!

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  • Wood Sculptor and Turner Joey Richardson presents ‘Are You With Me?’


    QEST Scholar and one of the UK’s most renowned female wood sculptors Joey Richardson will open her first solo show this week at the Sam Scorer Gallery in Lincoln.  Her techniques and repertoire for cutting, carving, turning, decorating, embellishing and presenting her pieces are highly admired and her work is held in private and public collections internationally.

    This retrospective exhibition spans nearly 20 years and includes Joey’s first ever piece of turned furniture, right up to pieces from her MA Show at the University of Lincoln (2018) where she gained a distinction and her most recent works from this summer.  Joey acknowledges the strong craft legacy in her works which draw from the traditional, yet embrace the contemporary in their design.

    Curator Darren Neave comments, “Joey’s work is rich in poetry, delicacy and humour.  She is passionate and hard-working and I am excited by this show which offers a chance to see her full list of talents including printing and furniture.”

    The exhibition will be officially opened by QEST CEO Debbie Pocock on 4 September.

    On from 5 -15 September 2019 at the Sam Scorer Gallery, Lincoln

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  • New Solo Exhibition by Sculptor Jenny Pickford at Pensthorpe Natural Park, Norfolk


    One of the UK’s leading contemporary blacksmith artists, QEST Scholar Jenny Pickford, is showing a collection of her large glass and steel nature inspired sculptures at Pensthorpe Natural Park for a solo exhibition from 31 August until 13 October 2019.

    Jenny’s sculptures, which are inspired by plants and stand over three metres tall, will be set against the backdrop of the Millennium Garden.  They showcase her unique combination of oversized forged steel and melted glass sculptures and water features, and some of the key pieces on show are Bluebell, Allium, Dandelion and Circles of Life.

    Renowned for her feminine perspective inspired by the spirit of nature, the sculptures illustrate the co-existence and co-dependence of strength and fragility in the natural world. Jenny uses black-smithing skills in her forge to transform industrial steel into a malleable form, bringing the piece to life. She also uses special tools she has made herself, along with a fly press and 1930s-era power hammer.  The glass pieces are incorporated through partnerships with distinguished glass blowers. 

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  • The River Within: A Photographic Journey Through London by Kayak by Annette Price


    As part of Totally Thames 2019, a month-long celebration of the River Thames through a diverse programme of creative events and experiences, QEST Scholar Annette Price will be presenting The River Within: A Photographic Journey Through London by Kayak at the Riverside Gallery in Richmond from 2 September.

    Two years ago Annette began exploring the 215 mile length of the Thames, from source to sea, and documenting her travels in photographs. With every picture taken from her kayak, a few inches from the water, her works give you a unique and intimate perspective of the river.  Annette explores beneath pontoons, inside tunnels, up tributaries and between houseboats.  Covering both ancient and contemporary London, from boats and buildings to riverbed art and misty sunrises, the familiar Thames is re-framed seen from the intimate perspective of the water.

    Kayaking photography must be planned to work with the ever-changing tides, erratic currents and the waves created by the wind blowing against the tide and wash from passing boats. Juggling these changing elements creates constantly renewing opportunities to reveal hidden gems, as she looks outwards from the River Within.

    2 September – 16 November 2019

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