On Tuesday 15th March Dawn Cragg welcomed members old and new to the first meeting of her presidency of Retford Ladies Probus. The speaker was Chris Tarratt, who is a jeweller by trade. ‘Visual Gems’ was a guide round some of Chris’s favourite images from the world of art. He began with a Cartier leopard brooch designed for the Duchess of Windsor in 1948. The platinum and white gold leopard emblazoned with diamonds and sapphires sits upon a 152 kt sapphire cabochon. Members learned that a cobochon is a gem that is polished but not faceted.
Faberge’s iconic jewelled eggs also featured in Chris’s favourites. Commissioned by Alexander 111 and Nicholas 11 of Russia these exquisite, almost priceless pieces were made when many Russians were starving and men were fighting in the trenches. To parallel this, several of the Duchess of Windsor’s pieces were made during World War II, when austerity and conflict were affecting most of the nation. However, the sale of her jewels in 1987 realised £8 million pounds bequeathed to the Pasteur Institute in Paris in appreciation to the people of France for accepting her and the Duke after their exile from England.
Chris also admires the impressionist painters, citing the ceiling of the Palais Garnier Opera house in Paris painted by Marc Chagall, a Russian artist who also designed stained glass windows for All Saints Church in Tudeley, Kent. He rates Georg Jensen, a sculptor for his clean Scandinavian designs made in silver and lastly Yousuf Karsh, a Canadian photographer famous for his iconic portraits of people such as Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein. Einstein famously said (among other things) that education is what remains when all you learnt at school is forgotten.
It was an interesting insight into beautiful things the likes of which, in some cases, will never be repeated and members thanked Chris for sharing it all with them. They next meet on Wednesday 8th May with ‘Button Hooked’ with Diane Hensley. The venue is Westhill Community Centre, Ordsall, at 10.00am for 10.30am. All are welcome.