Just over a week before Christmas (2009) I received an email via a friend from the arts organisation Design Factory. They had received a commission request for an artist to design and make a golden hare similar to the Kit Williams Masquerade necklace.
I was first introduced to Kit Williams' work and the Golden Hare just a few months prior to this after reading an article in my daily newspaper and watching a documentary on the BBC. The second I saw the piece I was hooked!
Not only could I see immediate similarities to my own work in the craftsmanship and design of the piece, I also related to the fairy tale aspect and hidden stories within the design. It is a stunning work of art, one of the most inspiring and beautiful pieces of jewellery I have ever come across.
When I received the shout out for artists applications naturally, I replied immediately, without a thought.
Apparently my excitement and enthusiasm transcribed into the email so much so that Paul replied back almost straight away!
After months of telephone conversations & emails we finally had the design fine tuned and ready to go!
I was absolutely delighted to be working on such an amazing piece. For me it was a dream commission! I couldn't have asked for anything more..
Making the first cut into the metal was pretty nerve wracking and exciting all at the same time. The design was hand cut from 18ct gold sheet metal. I started with the out line of the overall body and then worked on the detail in the centre of the body by drilling and carefully cutting out each little detail.
As I work in an open studio space I thought it best to forewarn my fellow residents of what I was working on and ignore them for a while!
So after several weeks of solitude and concentration the stones where finally set and the piece beautifully polished, ready to find its new home.
The entire process went exactly as planned and everything came together perfectly.
On the day that Paul & Rosey where due to collect the piece I had mixed feelings of apprehension, excitement and a slight sorrow knowing that my beautiful golden hare was finally leaving me.
I had not actually met Paul face to face throughout the whole process so I had no idea what reaction to expect from him and more importantly his wife Rosey.
As soon as they walked through the door I knew that the piece was going to the right home.
The excitement and joy expressed by Rosey when she opened the box was worth all the hard work and seeing it worn with such pride made it even better!
This was a dream commission for me from start to finish. The design, the symbolism, the beauty of the material and gemstones made it an absolute joy to work on!
"I have been attracted to the Kit Williams/golden hare story since it first came to the publics' attention. As a young man, in the early 1970s, I used to live in Westoning, a small village in Bedfordshire, about five miles from Ampthill. I used to play rugby for Ampthill (4th XV!) and had visited the park with my baby daughter on hot, sunny weekend afternoons. So, when I heard about the story, and particularly that the hare was found in Ampthill Park I felt drawn to the story because I used to live there. Moreover, when I first saw the hare I was knocked out by the beauty of the piece. I found it magical.
I wanted to have a piece of jewellery made for Rosey and my motivation for this coincided with the 30th anniversary of the publication of the William's book - so the two ideas came together, a piece of jewellery modelled on the original hare.
The symbols: I felt that a moon and stars were important because they help conjure a sense of magic. Semi-precious stones were important to give the piece an exotic appearance. The tortoise is me!
The design process: Conducting this via email and telephone worked perfectly well, thanks to Rachel's fantastic (and accurate) illustrations and her reliable communication and honesty.
On first sight of the hare: Rosey was very surprised at the size of the piece and it's impact. It was larger than she anticipated. She was struck by the intricacy and detail. It is beautiful. Rosey particularly likes the way that the hare has been cut and the setting of the jewels. She really enjoys wearing the hare as people are very interested in looking at it. She feels spoilt (I am pleased she does).
I think that the hare has exceeded all my expectations. I knew it would be good. It is actually fantastic."
P. Darbyshire 2010