Make a personal statement with artisan pieces spanning WONDERHAUS to Cabbage is King
WITH its homogenised high streets and throwaway consumerism, 21st century western shopping culture makes it increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd. Independent boutiques are relatively few and, whilst many are turning to vintage in order to find something unique, others aren’t as confident in pulling off the fashions of yesteryear. And the haute couture of the catwalk? Well, few can afford that.
Thank heavens for jewellery, a versatile accessory that can add a personal touch to any look. For those who don’t have money to fritter on a bespoke outfit, or else the confidence for thrifted finds, this form of adornment - dating back over 75,000 years - is the ideal compromise. Whether you want to dress up a plain outfit with bold statement pieces such as Lily Read's (header image) or prefer your ornamentation a little more delicate, there’s a style for all.
Many chains now offer jewellery collections, but one-of-a-kind items are a little harder to find - so we’ve compiled a guide to Manchester’s artisanal hotspots.
Theatrical storytelling isn’t the only thing you can find beneath the soaring glass domes of this landmark Grade II-listed building. Next to Bar Exchange is the theatre’s namesake shop, which has been showcasing contemporary British makers for over 30 years. As well as themed exhibitions every two months, there are regular displays of both emerging and established talent from across the UK. Stocked designers include Adele Taylor - who casts found object parts in silver and gold - and Cabbage is King, whose detailed surrealist creations are crafted in both precious metals and mixed media.
St Ann's Square, M2 7DH; royalexchange.co.uk
FRANNY & FILER
This little Chorlton gallery-cum-workshop was founded by jewellery designers Frances Stunt and Abbey Filer, who make their pieces on the premises. There is a lot of crossover with Manchester Craft & Design Centre - one example being Amy Wilkinson, a jewellery metalsmith who additionally creates armature for stop motion studio Mackinnon and Saunders. Additional designers include London’s Emma Ware, whose intricate ‘body sculptures’ employ unusual combinations such as rubber and silver.
70 Beech Road, Chorlton, M21 9E; frannyandfiler.com
MANCHESTER CRAFT & DESIGN CENTRE
Home to 35 artisans, you’re now more likely to find homeware than haddock, crafts than cod, at this former Victorian fish market. Several of the workshop residents are jewellers and the venue also hosts a lively exhibition and events programme, including ‘meet the maker’ sessions (alongside a very commendable café). Highlights include WONDERHAUS’ colourful forms - favoured by the likes of Erin O’Connor - and Charlotte Verity, who uses handmade glass components and vitreous enamels. Even Kaper, whose studio is distinguished by paper animal sculptures above the door, has a small selection of whimsical wearables.
17 Oak Street, M4 5JD; craftanddesign.com
Launched by three jewellery designers last year, this little NQ gallery and boutique spans ceramics to clocks to custom stationary. Naturally, however, the emphasis is on jewellery. Again, there’s a lot of crossover with Manchester Craft & Design Centre over the road (co-founder Maja also owns an MCDC studio called Destreza alongside fellow designer Liliana Mandziuk) with the likes of Laura Johnson’s industrial aesthetics and Sabira Silcock’s hand-pierced organic pieces. Find out more about Kula here.
7 Oak Street, M4 5JD; facebook.com/kulagallery
MANCHESTER JEWELLERS NETWORK
You can’t buy directly from here but MJN is a great way to discover new local talent, and many members are now stocked in Manchester Art Gallery’s shop - including Nina Rathalia and Toby Cotterill, whose work takes the shape of kinetic arthropods. Some designers are additionally displayed in Bridgewater Hall’s shop. Other collectives worth checking out include Fox Fairy - based in Affleck’s Palace - and the Pop Up Boutique, founded by costume jewellery designer Fatz K.
GREAT NORTHERN CONTEMPORARY CRAFT FAIR
While more regular events such as the Makers Markets often boast artisan jewellery, this annual showcase for over 160 designer-makers is well worth the wait. Mediums span glass to wood to textiles but jewellery is a key staple: GNCCF’s committee includes local jeweller Jane Dzisiewski and there is a strong focus on graduate talent: last year featured the likes of Lauren Taylor, whose intriguing tactile pieces incorporate hand-spun cotton. There is also a spin-off Little Contemporary Craft Fair, which takes place over spring and Christmas at Altrincham Town Hall.