In 2016 the acclaimed Edinburgh jewellery designer and silversmith Sarah Hutchison presented Newby with a brand new piece for our Chitra Collection. This beautiful teapot is a newly commissioned piece based on a design which previously brought Sarah widespread recognition. We spoke to Sarah who explained the story behind it and told us which enigmatic Scottish star inspired the original.

This is the first brand new commission for the Chitra Collection for some time. What made you want to produce a piece for the collection?

“It was a real honour to be asked to make a piece for a collection of this standing and reputation. With pieces dating back for centuries, I feel that by adding to this collection, my work will become a little piece of history – marking this moment in time.

I think my teapot does stand out to being very different to the other modern teapots that have been commissioned and I love that it will stand out as a unique piece. It is also embellished with diamonds, yet so contemporary in comparison to the other pieces”.

Tell us how the original design of this teapot came about.

“I was asked to be part of the ‘Silver for the Stars’ exhibition in 2006, and to design and make a teapot inspired by the essence of Sharleen Spiteri – the frontwoman of the band Texas. This project progressed my design work and making skills almost overnight. The challenge this gave me was not just to make something so elaborate, but with a function which was second to none. The brief allowed me to combine the techniques seen in my jewellery with those in my silverware. This double skin design was perfect for my concept.

The exhibition was created by the Incorporation of Goldsmiths here in Edinburgh, and featured pieces designed for a number of Scottish celebrities, including Sean Connery, Billy Connolly and Ewan McGregor. This piece has certainly travelled the world, starting on show at the V&A in London, going on to New York, St Petersburg and Kyoto, to name a few! Wherever it has gone it has always attracted a lot of praise and admiration”.

In what way did Sharleen inspire the piece?

“Sharleen Spiteri is a strong, independent Scottish woman who has such a great energy and presence on stage, yet keeps her private life as separate as possible and away from the public eye. She is also regarded as a beautiful, feminine woman, despite often being described as androgynous. The bold circular shape of the pot inner body and the strong solid handle symbolise this bold, independent woman. The outer fringe is delicate and beautiful with a subtle sparkle, like her also, while all the time protecting the two from one another”.

The work on this teapot looks very intricate. Have you made other pieces in this style?

“It is – the inner body has been spun, the handle has been forged, the outer skin has been hammered and pierced by hand, and then each strand was formed individually. It has been decorated with diamonds and, as a final unique touch, bears the Newby logo on the underside.

I have also made candelabra, water jugs, and a milk and sugar set. More recently I made a modern take of a menorah (branched lampstand) in the same fringed style, and this year I just completed candlesticks with images of Jerusalem cut from them”.

How did you get started as a designer?

“I graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2004 – winning a national award for my silverware and a separate one for my jewellery within months of each other. All of my silverware was intricately pierced silver bowls and my jewellery was this delicate cut work which you see in my designs now – which resemble chrysanthemums, fireworks, ribbons and coral”.

You used to work in London’s jewellery quarter, Hatton Garden. What made you set out on your own?

“I loved my time in Hatton Garden – it was great being in the centre of London’s jewellery trade, and I managed a contemporary jewellery gallery there. Sadly, contemporary work is not what the customers in Hatton Garden are there to see.

I loved the gallery and what it was trying to do, and there was nowhere in Edinburgh doing this exact thing, so I decided to return to my home city and try it there. I now have my own gallery, SH Jewellery, on Morningside Road, which showcases my own pieces as well as those of other hand-picked designers. I enjoy making jewellery and being creative, but love the business aspect too and interacting with customers. Helping someone to find a piece of jewellery they love and will treasure – potentially for generations – is quite special”.

What tempted you back to Edinburgh?

“Edinburgh is home for me. I love what the city has to offer. All the joys of being a cosmopolitan city, with the beautiful beaches and countryside on your doorstep. I like to keep challenging myself and keep moving forward with my career and this was the next natural step for me”.

Do any other well-known names have a Sarah Hutchison piece at home?

“Camilla Parker Bowles was presented with a silver bowl with pearls that I designed and made in 2007, when she visited Edinburgh College of Art to celebrate its centenary year. Princess Michael of Kent was also presented with a bowl of mine at The Goldsmiths’ Fair in London in 2005”.

You came to view the Chitra Collection recently. What did you think of it?

“When I came to London to meet with Mr Sethia in October 2015, I was very fortunate to be shown the Chitra Collection. It really is an impressive collection of work. The variety of the silver and china teapots was spectacular. I feel very proud to be part of such a fantastic collection”.

We have now added Sarah’s beautiful silver teapot to the Chitra Collection, as we continue to preserve the history of tea for generations to come. Find out more about the collection, and Sarah Hutchison’s work here:

Silver of the Stars Sarah Hutchison Interview from Screen Education Edinburgh on Vimeo.