Arthur and Georgina (Georgie) Gaskin were a husband and wife team, producing exceptional wirework, foliate Arts & Crafts jewellery from the turn of the century. Both accomplished artists in their own right, and studied at the Birmingham School of Art where they met in 1888. It is worth noting that the pair also made significant contributions in illustration and metalwork, before turning their attention to jewellery as mature artists. Arthur and Georgie married in 1894, and worked together from 1899 onwards, producing and exhibiting jewellery under joint names. Commenting on their work together, Georgie explained in 1929 “In the jewellery I did all the designing and he did all the enamel, and we both executed the work with our assistants.” Research has shown that in fact, Georgie was the dominant force in the jewellery production, and so much of their work was a result of her creativity.
Following the principles of the Arts & Crafts movement, the Gaskins showed a revulsion of valuable stones, and many of their pieces are set with paste, opals, and blister pearls, seen as less valuable stones at the time. In Antique & 20th Century Jewellery, Vivienne Becker details a necklace of “cornelians that he [Arthur] had picked up on the beach and this product met with great approbation.”
Arthur was a central figure in Birmingham, both making jewellery and teaching. He became the headmaster of the Birmingham School for Silversmiths and Jewellers in 1903 and continued in this role until his retirement in 1924. He was also a member of the Birmingham Group of Artists, as well as the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists and taught pupils such as Carrie Copson.
While much of the jewellery produced by the Gaskins is unsigned, it possesses a distinctive style, incorporating style – coils and tendrils of gold and silver wire, fine borders of rope design, clusters or pyramids of silver grains, leaves and flowers set with small richly coloured stones and occasionally incorporating birds.
Jewellery by the Gaskins is highly sought after by collectors of Arts & Crafts jewellery, and pieces continue to fetch high hammer prices both for the tale they tell in design history and for their elegant, charming and wearable designs.
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