During my time in San Francisco (1996 – 2001); between working in a cafe for theatrical transvestite types (Mad Magda’s Russian Tea Room) and my job as Registrar at the Revere Academy of Jewellery Arts; I had the misfortune to work for a very rich, cantankerous older ‘lady’ who fancied herself as a fine jewellery dealer. The truth was she bought very expensive objet d’art and jewels direct from the artist or antique dealer and then showed them at international art shows in places such as Miami. I discovered, during one of these trips, that she never had any intention of selling any of the jewels she had purchased, and warded off any potential customers with her crazy bullshit. She just liked to be part of the show and show off her private collection.

Two of us worked for her at her home office (an old queen called Gary, who had been with her for years but had such a festering hatred for her it would have taken a therapist years to untangle) plus a Mexican cleaner, who she once attacked with a coat hanger. She was a real piece of work; and one day, when I could take no more, I decided to tell her what I thought of her. I seem to recall something along the lines of “evil old dragon”. Needless to say she called security and that was the end of that!

Why am I telling you this? Well, she introduced me to the wonderful world of Kevin Coates (she owned at least 5 of his incredible jewels) and I would like to share some of his genius with you.

I have discovered that Kevin has a new exhibition, which is currently in Oxford, at the Ashmolean museum, but will be winging it’s way to Wales, later on this year. where I fully intend to go and drool.

The exhibition is called: A Bestiary of Jewels. His latest work is based on encyclopaedias that were created during medieval times called ‘Bestiaries’, which studied both lore and myth relating to animals. Dr Coates’ interpretation of this was to create a page filled with the most sublime artwork, which can be wall mounted, at the heart of this page is embedded a wearable, removable jewel. Genius!

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The work includes animals such as a dodo, and rhino and a crow. He has paired each creature with their significant human. For example: The starling has been paired with Mozart. (Did I mention Kevin is also a hugely talented Baroque musician?) He describes this work as:

“A voyage of discovery… of this dream Ark of mine”

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Dr Kevin Coates is a London based goldsmith/artist/sculptor born in 1950. He uses such materials as gold,precious stones, shell and other such exotica.

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His work can be found in both private and public collections, including the V&A, The British Museum and the Museam of Fine Arts, Boston.

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