[Exhibit] [NY] Modern History of Celtic Jewelry, 1840-1980

My gallery, Walker Metalsmiths in Fairport, NY is planning an
exhibition of about 60 to 70 pieces that will illustrate the
development of modern Celtic Revival jewelry. Celtic ornament is used
as both an emblem of ethnic heritage and a reference to the distant
past. As a living art form the more recent past tends to be ignored
in favor of earlier sources. This project is intended to address the
ways in which Celtic design has been revived, re-imagined and evolved
from the 19th century to within living memory.

At present we have 80% the pieces needed to illustrate the subject,
either through our own collection or loans from collectors and
dealers. We are looking for additional loans of jewelry to illustrate
specific trends or makers and are also exploring the possibility of
exhibiting the work in other venues. We plan to exhibit in Fairport
from March - June 2013.

The catalog of the show will be lavishly illustrated with articles
by several authors. Dr. E. Mairi MacArthur of the New Iona Press has
agreed to contribute on Alexander Ritchie and the Celtic Art of Iona
and Ms. Tara Kelly, who is a recent art history PhD at Trinity
College Dublin, will share some of the material from her dissertation
on Irish Celtic Revival jewelry. Aidan Breen, famed Irish craftsman,
will write a firsthand account of the transition from the lingering
tradition of the Celtic Revival in Irish jewelry and silversmithing
through its blossoming into the current Celtic Renaissance in the
late 20th century.

We are cutting it off at about 1985 when the current popularity of
Celtic jewelry was just beginning to take off. We want to show some
of the early work of jewelers who were pioneers of the current

There are a few gaps in the material. Perhaps someone on Orchid
either owns a piece they would be willing to loan for several months
or knows someone who would. Specifically I am seeking:

An example of jewelry by Arhibald Knox for Liberty & Co. circa
1890-1905 An “Iona” wedding ring by John Hart. These are still being
made but we want to show an earlier example with hallmarks prior to

A Victorian jeweled dirk or sgian dhubh with interlace design on the

A “Scotch pebble” brooch AKA Scottish Agate brooch of the design
worn by Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter films. We already
have a very good selection of other pebble jewelry. This design in
particular would make a good connection to popular culture.

An older Claddagh ring. 19th century ones are extremely rare. We
would like to show something older than the 1980s examples that we
have now.

An enameled “Hunterston Brooch” by either Alexander Ritchie, HHI or
Iain MacCormick.

Early work by Aidan Breen of Dublin. Aidan is being very helpful
with this project, but does not still own any of his pieces from the
late 1970s or early 1980s.

Stephen Walker

My gallery, Walker Metalsmiths in Fairport, NY is planning an
exhibition of about 60 to 70 pieces that will illustrate the
development of modern Celtic Revival jewelry. 

Thank-you to the several Orchadians who volunteered pieces and
pre-ordered the catalog.

The exhibit will open with a reception on Friday evening March 8 and
run through June. The venue is at 140 Packets Landing in Fairport,
NY. That is right on the Erie Canal, off South Main Street. Fairport
is a suburb of Rochester, NY, easily accessible from the NY State
Thruway. Regular business hours are Wednesday through Saturday 10-6.
Most weeks I am only in Fairport on Fridays as my studio is 90 miles
south in Andover, NY.

Steve Walker

Where can we get catalogs and how much are they?


Several changes from the previously posted about this

The opening reception has been moved back to Friday March 15 to make
it a part of local Saint Patrick’s Day festivities.

There will be a lecture by Trinity College Dublin scholar Tara Kelly
on Tuesday March 12 @ 7:30 PM. Details below.

The Modern History of Celtic Jewelry is the title of both a book and
an exhibit that Walker Metalsmiths is presenting during spring, 2013
at their Fairport, NY shop. Celtic art is usually presented to the
contemporary consumer as a living art form handed down from an
ancient tradition going back to the Book of Kells and the Tara
Brooch. This project tells the story of the more recent history, from
the early Celtic Revival of the 1840s up to the beginning of the
Celtic Renaissance of the 1980s. On display will be some of the
earliest archeological facsimile brooches from Victorian Dublin
craftsmen such as Waterhouse, Johnson and Acheson, 19th century
Scottish pebble jewelry, jeweled dirks and sgian dubhs and Iona
silver jewelry by Alexander Ritchie, Iain MacCormick and Hamish
Dawson-Bowman. Several of the craftsmen whose work pioneered the
more recent popularity of Celtic jewelry in the later 20th century
are also featured with early examples of their work. These include
Aidan Breen, Ola Gorie, Shetland Jewellery and John Hart.

The fully illustrated catalog of the exhibit includes articles by
Dr. E. Mairi MacArthur, Aidan Breen, Stephen Walker and is edited by
Tara Kelly.

Ms. Kelly is currently a PhD candidate at Trinity College Dublin and
is doing her dissertation on the manufacture and marketing of Irish
Victorian Celtic metalwork.

The Irish American Cultural Institute will host a free lecture on
the jewelry of the Irish Celtic Revival by Tara Kelly at 135 Basil
Hall, St.

John Fisher College, East Rochester, NY at 7:30 pm on Tuesday March

An opening reception for the exhibit at 140 Packets Landing in
Fairport will be on Friday March 15 from 5 to 8. Regular hours at
Walker Metalsmiths are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 to 6.
Admission is free to the public. The exhibit will remain on display
through Fairport Canal Days, closing June 2. For more information
contact Stephen Walker 607-478-8567.