One of the things at Taylor’s on the High Street we’re particularly proud to stock is a range of stunning hand-engraved jewellery by silversmith and engraver extraordinaire Malcolm Appleby. Born in West Wickham in 1946, Malcolm Appleby began his training at the Central School of Art before studying at the Sir John Cass school of art and the Royal College of Art in London. By 1969, he was a Littledale scholar at the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, which goes all the way back to the 12th century.
Luckily for Taylor’s, Malcolm moved close by to Banchory in 1969 and we soon snapped up his incredible jewellery to stock in our High Street store. With the annual Banchory Bangle raffle coming up, we thought it was a fantastic opportunity to have a chat with the artist himself. In this weeks blog, we picked Malcolm Appleby’s brain about where he finds his inspiration, process and which of his Banchory Bangles are his personal favourites
Where Do You Find The Inspiration For Your Pieces?
“Well we have a 12 acre back garden and front garden and round garden really, and I’m constantly walking around there and picking up on stuff. However inspiration, if you want to call it that, it comes from almost anything; you never know where it’s going to come from. It’s a continual process, and really not something that can be switched on or switched off. It might even be a headline from a newspaper that stimulates something.
It’s not always the natural world, although that is probably the most important thing. Even environmental disasters can stimulate work as well, I’ve done projects like Oil Slick using enamel with Jane Short. Inspiration comes from almost anywhere really, and I often find it around about the garden in the environment I’ve helped create for myself around here with the help of the natural world, we work together on it!”
What Drew You To Aberdeenshire In Particular?
"I was born in Kent on the outskirts of London on the very edge of suburbia, and the suburban and the rural life won out every time really. I had to go to London for my education, but as soon as I could I moved out of London and Scotland beckoned. I did have a travel grant from the Goldsmiths Company of £100 in 1964 and I used it to travel to Scotland with my younger brother Andrew and it was money well spent!"
"I've Always Tried To Maintain My Connection With Aberdeenshire"
"In 1969 I moved up to Crathes near Banchory, and bought the Crathes railway station and lived there for 26 years. It was a wonderful building and it was a great inspiration for me and served me well up until the last minute. When my wife Phillippa and I were looking to move away we saw the oak woodlands of Aberfeldy and found land that suited us perfectly, although I’ve always tried to maintain my connection with Aberdeenshire"
Why Did You Decide To Work With Taylor's?
"Well, I’ve known the Taylor's team ever since I moved up to Crathes, because they were locals and neighbours of mine! Before working with Taylor’s I would often sell pieces at the station with people I knew. I always like to work with people I know, so when Taylor’s asked to stock my stuff I said yes yes yes!"
"It’s wonderful, I really enjoy that close connection. They know my work well and the shop staff are fans of the work and enjoy selling it, and that’s an important thing. I really do like that close contact with the people I work with, so I thought it would work well and it certainly has! They’re also very accessible to everyone locally which is great!"
How Did The Banchory Bangle Get Started?
Well, I used to do a little stall at the Banchory fair for Children’s First, with small pieces and engraving things for people and I thought well I can do better than this and decided to engrave a bangle so that there was one specific piece. It was usually sold on the day, which is when I realised it was working well, I spent more time on it. It was shown on the day at the Banchory Show and then sold through the local butcher shop in Banchory. I asked the butcher to put it among the lamb chops in the window so it would stand out and everyone would see it!
Later on I was asked to create a piece to be auctioned off. This was my 21st year of doing the Banchory Bangle so I decided to do a gold one which was an immediate success and a good fundraiser!
The only thing was that auctioning it off meant that only a few people could buy it, so to make it more open and democratic I decided it should be raffled instead. The design can take a couple of months to make, and from the gold design, we create silver copies that everyone can buy. I really enjoy doing it, part of it is the teamwork with the strong deeside community that supports it, and of course Taylor’s is a part of that.”
Do You Have A Favourite Banchory Bangle Design?
I have several of them! Wren and Ivy was one of the first ones we cast 25 years ago and it’s still popular now. With all the recasting of all the designs it means that almost anyone has the opportunity to bring them home. This year the Banchory Bangle features ginkgo leaves and I’ve actually acquired ginkgo trees to plant around Banchory that can be sponsored. I really do like making the bangles but if i was doing them everyday and nothing else it would be a bit monotonous! There’s a great variety of work that comes out of my workshop, just as it did at the Crathes Railway station
Do You Have Any Advice For Anyone Interested In Engraving?
“Join the Handengravers Association of Great Britain, that’s the first thing to do, because that will give you contact with a lot of engravers. You have to be totally dedicated, it’s not something you can pick up one day and put away for a week, it takes someone willing to concentrate for many hours and to do a lot of drawing. Find someone who can inspire you, and Instagram is a great place to find that.”
To take part in the raffle and possibly win the chance to take home a gorgeous piece of jewellery, and raise money for a great cause, you can buy your tickets here! Just make sure you get your tickets by the 22nd of November. To take a look at Malcolm’s work for yourself, why not browse our collection here?