Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Metal Detector with a Mission

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Metal Detector with a Mission

Article excerpt

FRANCIS Raeymaekers, founder of London's latest applied arts gallery, The Metal Gallery, says: "I knew very little about contemporary British metal work until very recently. Actually, I knew nothing at all."

That might seem something of a disadvantage to someone intending to provide London with its first venue dedicated to selling the work of contemporary metalsmiths, but Raeymaekers is a fast learner and rather enjoys his iconoclastic reputation. He also knows whom to ask for advice and when to take it.

Sixteen years ago as an unknown and inexperienced dealer, he burst onto Bond Street with a new gallery selling high-quality antique silver.

Traditional dealers were not amused as he managed to find top-notch pieces and even less so, as he enticed a whole new group of clients into collecting antique silver.

At The Metal Gallery he hopes to do the same for contemporary metalwork.

Having established shops in the United States and France, he was asked by a French company to investigate setting up a traditional shop here, but found that the real gap in the market was for a gallery selling cutting-edge pieces by young makers.

The Metal Gallery will not be just another jewellery gallery. It will stock objects for the house and garden as well as wearable works of art.

It is much needed. At present, while there are several non-specialist galleries that hold the occasional metal show (or, more usually, silver show), no existing gallery has a permanent display. Yet contemporary makers are producing a wide range of domestic artefacts from bowls to garden gates, in everything from gold to wrought iron.

Raeymaekers is convinced that there is a market for new work, if only people know what is available and what is achievable. "A hundred years ago, 90 per cent of what shops sold were pieces by contemporary makers," he says.

"Today, very little on sale is new design, it's all reproduction."

He has chosen a good time to sell metalwork. …

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