70 Years at Sturt (1941-2011) - Jewellery and Metalcraft

A short history by Grace Cochrane

Ray NormanSturt Metal, now offering classes and short courses as Sturt Jewellery, was added to the group in 1969 and run by Ray Norman until 1985. Norman trained a number of jewellers and silversmiths, including Greg Healey, Nicholas Deeprose, Alice Whish and Diana Boynes, and developed production ranges to support the workshop. In 1970, Les Blakebrough met silversmith Ragnar Hansen in Norway and invited him to Sturt, where he worked during 1972-73, before moving to Tasmania. Norman encouraged the use of Sturt for seminars and workshops associated with crafts organisations, including the Jewellers and Metalsmiths Group of Australia (JMGA), whose first conference was held at Sturt in 1980. He organised specialist workshops such as Iron Plus, in 1983, and master classes including one with Japanese 'sword furnisher', Satsuo Ando, and another with German goldsmith, Herman Junger in 1982. Norman recalls that 'The workshop was under pressure to make work for sale … While there was a display space, there was no Sturt shop at that time.' He sold Sturt's work through Anina, in Rowe Street, Sydney (where he had trained), and to private clients. Sometimes they did a good trade to visitors in Miss West's garden at the weekends, 'where she did the selling'.

Norman discovered that Jack Southerden, in the Wood workshop, was a lapidary, so he engaged him to cut stones to be used in jewellery, and in 1977 they produced a touring exhibition, Stone Cutting & Setting, for the Crafts Board. He also supported a number of other initiatives to further develop training in jewellery. In the early 1970s Indigenous artist Neville Poulson came from Yuendumu as a trainee for about eight weeks, while Jack Southerden later visited Yuendumu to work with the artists there.