The collector: Jason Nicholson, Senior Lecturer at Birmingham Institute of Art & Design (UK).
The collection: The designs of Robert Welch.
The story behind the collection...
The collection began around 4 years ago and includes predominantly stainless steel designs for ‘Old Hall Tableware’ as well as decorative cast iron pieces. My partner and I started buying each other certain pieces but now it’s definitely a growing assortment of objects. There are hundreds of pieces out there so this is by no means a large collection; however it goes some way towards demonstrating the scope of his product range.
Robert Welch combined his knowledge of traditional silversmithing skills with industrial process to develop products with a sensitive but distinctive design language. I first became aware of his work whilst studying Metalsmithing and Jewellery in Leicester and was drawn to the relationship between craft, design and manufacture - I was inspired to design a range of cutlery for a major project! My partner also worked for a company Robert Welch designed for (Chad Lighting).
For me these pieces are simply functional, decorative and unpretentious in design! Many of the designs are very simple but openly celebrate materials and processes. I find myself drawn to a certain modernist geometry, beautiful proportions and finely detailed products.
The first piece may have been the tea strainer and drip tray and at present we have around 50 ish pieces – some doubles of which we sell. Most of the pieces are either from Ebay or car boot sales as well as kind donations... thanks to Tony McMullen!
Most of the pieces are dotted around the house and are used regularly – some pieces gravitate to the ‘special display cabinet’.
Favourite piece of stainless - triple candle holder from the Campden range.
Favourite cast iron piece – ‘the sun dish’
My partner and I have also started are a little collection of ceramics – some West German pots and a little Poole pottery (Delphis).
I enjoy the whole process of finding new pieces, not always to keep but to sell on too. Getting up at 6.00am on a Sunday morning probably indicates obsessional tendencies…..
Further reading: Hand and Machine: Robert Welch
Images © Jason Nicholson