Kate EarlamKate Earlam has been formally recognised as the winner of the Goldsmiths’ Company’s Young Designer Silversmith Award 2012 at a ceremony at the National Museums Scotland.
During the ceremony Kate’s award winning piece, a stunning silver fruit dish was presented to Dr Gordon Rintoul, Director of National Museums Scotland by the Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company, Lord Sutherland.

This prestigious competition organised by the Goldsmiths' Company, focuses on young silversmithing students at university in Britain today and is open to any student under 30 on a BA or Master’s degree course.  The Award scheme was started in 1994 as an initiative to encourage students to show their artistic individuality in silver and to give them the opportunity to perfect dexterity of craftsmanship under the guidance of a master silversmith.
This year the designated instructing silversmith was Clive Burr. Kate therefore had the fantastic experience of working with Clive and his team Andrew Briggs, Paul Savage and Junko Adachi, in his workshop in the new Goldsmiths’ Centre in London’s Clerkenwell.
Kate, who comes from Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, studied silversmithing at Liverpool Hope University and more recently completed a post-graduate course at Bishopsland.  She was chosen as winner of this year’s Young Designer Silversmith Award having submitted a design for a vessel to display fruit.
Kate Earlam 
The design brief for the award changes from year to year and on this occasion the brief read: “With supermarkets now stocking a large variety of exotic fruits as well as many common varieties, design a piece of silver (with a least one dimension to be in excess of 30cm) that will imaginatively display or present one fruit or a group of fruits as a centrepiece on a table. As many of the varieties of fruit have interesting shapes, textures and forms these might be reflected in the final design of the piece of silver. The form of the silver should interact with the lines and shapes of the fruit and be able to display them for all of their beauty.”
Kate’s original inspiration for her piece came from grapes. “I started by looking at grapevines and recreating the natural context in my own style. Originally the design was going to have chased detail, however whilst I was at Bishopsland I was lucky enough to have a masterclass with virtuoso engraver, Malcolm Appleby in his workshop in Scotland for a week. I totally fell in love with engraving.”  Her finished piece is consequently exquisitely and competently engraved with fluid lines of surface decoration.
Under the watchful eye of master silversmith Clive Burr, Kate was able to turn her design into a stunning silver vessel.  She said: “I feel so privileged to have been able to work with Clive Burr and his team of silversmiths. To see the standard of the work they produce has been extremely inspirational and has certainly impacted on my own skills and understanding.  Not only did I get a lot of advice and help from Clive, but being based in the new Goldsmiths’ Centre made it possible for me to be assisted by other experts in their field.  For example James Neville and Samantha Marsden were on hand to help with any engraving advice and also I was able witness the polishing process in the workshop of Reginald Elliot Kate Earlam with Clive Burr and Rosemary Ransome Wallisand Alan Fitzpatrick.”

Rosemary Ransome Wallis, Curator of Collections at Goldsmiths’ Hall, and the driving force behind the Award added:  “Kate’s fruit vessel is quite ethereal – beautifully and effortlessly composed, like two fallen autumn leaves, their surfaces hand-engraved with sweeping lines which echo their shape.  Kate is definitely one to watch!”

The Goldsmiths’ Company contributes £4,000 towards to the costs of making the final piece in silver and once completed, the scheme decrees that it be presented to the appropriate major museum nearest the winning student’s college for its collection of contemporary decorative arts.