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Sarah Rothwell

National Museums Scotland Curator Sarah Rothwell Views Beauty Tricks By Pinkie Maclure.
Sarah Rothwell
Senior Curator, Modern & Contemporary Design
Collection responsibility: British, European and other ‘Western’ glass, ceramics, metalware, jewellery and industrial design circa 1945 – present.
Research interests: Nordic and British Modernist Jewellery Design, Contemporary Craft with a focus on Ceramics, Glass and Jewellery, 20th century European Art and Design and the integration and interpretation of historical collections by working artists and makers.

Sarah holds responsibility for the British, European and other ‘Western’ collections of glass, ceramics, metalwork, jewellery and industrial design circa 1945 to the present, which include a nationally significant collection of Contemporary Craft. And the seminal Dan Klein & Alan J Poole Private Collection of Modern Glass, gifted to the organisation in 2009 and internationally recognised as a significant survey of some of the leading names in British and Irish Studio and Art Glass.

Sarah co-curated the exhibition ‘Art of Glass’, in partnership with the National Centre for Craft & Design, Sleaford. The exhibition examined the depth of innovation within the field of glass, highlighting both emerging artists and established names who are challenging the perception of glass as merely a vehicle for functional objects and are creating outstanding works of art and craft. It marked a significant moment in time for the contemporary glass sector, reflecting the emerging status of glass as an artform within academic and artistic research and museum collecting. Sarah was recently invited to participate as one of six guest curators for the 2021 European Glass Context, which aimed to include works that represented the UN sustainability goals. Her nominee for the UK, Jeff Zimmer, received the second prize for his work "Shadow/Shelter", a re-setting of his work exploring the lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals in and from Caithness in the North of Scotland.

In 2015, she was one of the first recipients of the Art Fund New Collecting Award, which aims to provide curators with opportunities to undertake research and acquire objects on behalf of their organisations. The project focused on collecting, researching and disseminating northern modernist jewellery with a particular emphasis on work designed and manufactured in Britain and the Nordic countries during the post-1945 period. The research project addressed a gap both in NMS collections and in those of many other museums, allowing NMS to establish a nationally significant collection of Modernist jewels. The culmination of the project fed into an exhibition which took place at NMS from December 2017 to April 2018 and has since led to further acquisitions in this area, including an important early work by the internationally recognised Scottish jeweller and educator Dorothy Hogg MBE (1945 – 2022).

Sarah is an active voice in the museum’s contemporary commissioning programme, project managing the Makower Commission for National Museums Scotland which looks to support emerging silversmiths with their first major commission. From 2018 and 2020, Sarah worked with colleagues in Scottish History & Archeology and Development on the delivery of the Glenmorangie commission by the internationally renowned metalsmith Simone ten Hompel. In March 2020, she co-hosted the Museum and Contemporary Craft Symposium, which highlighted how artists and makers can help facilitate further engagement with and understanding of Museums and their collections.

Sarah’s research is currently focused on representing and championing unheard and forgotten voices within Contemporary Craft and Design. She supports the sector through her position on the Board of Craft Scotland and as a Trustee for the Scottish Goldsmiths Trust.

Rothwell, S. An Exhibition Like No Other, The Goldsmiths Review 2021-2022, p. 23-26, August 2022.

Rothwell, S. Northern Modernist Jewellery – a museum collecting project, Journal of Jewellery Research, Volume 5, p. 36-53, July 2022.

Rothwell, S. Jewellery and Covid-19, Jewellery History Today, Issue 43, Winter 2022, p. 14.

Rothwell, S. The Importance of Place, European Glass Context 2021 Exhibition Catalogue, The Royal Danish Academy, Architecture, Design, Conservation, p.24 – 29.

Rothwell, S. Our Lives are Jewels, Jewellery History Today, Issue 42, Autumn 2021, p. 6 -7.

Rothwell, S. Capturing Decorative Art – The work of Frances Priest, Journal of the Decorative Arts Society No. 45, p.8-21, 2021. 

Rothwell, S. and Jøker Johnsen, S. The Importance of Place; European Glass Context 2021 in Bornholm, p.42-45, NEUES GLAS – NEW GLASS: Art & Architecture No. 2, 2021.

Rothwell, S. Geometric Variations… Paolozzi the Designer, Design Exhibition Scotland, 2020.

Rothwell, S. Emmeline Hastings: Otherworldly Jewels, The Goldsmiths Review 2019-2020, p.17-21, 2020. 

Rothwell, S. National Museums Scotland Supporting Emerging Silversmiths: Hamish Dobbie, June 2020.

Rothwell, S. National Museums Scotland Supporting Emerging Silversmiths: Jessica Jue and Hazel Thorn, June 2020.

Rothwell, S. Re-discovering Post-War British Modernist Jewellery, Jewellery Studies, The Journal of The Society of Jewellery Historians, 2020/1.

Rothwell, S. Material Fluidities: Dialogues Between the Digital and the Handmade, Material Fluidity RaFT Exhibition Catalogue, p. 12-13, Edinburgh College of Art’s Devolved Researcher Fund, 2019. 

Rothwell, S. A Passion for Glass: The Dan Klein & Alan J Poole Private Collection of Modern Glass, Scottish Glass Society Journal, p.5-9, 2019.

Rothwell, S. On the Edge, Scottish Glass Society 40th Anniversary exhibition catalogue, 2019.

Rothwell, S. Sycamore Vessel 5 by Liam Flynn, Fluid Forms – Liam Flynn, p.68-70, Mary Leahy/Liam Flynn Estate, Ireland, 2019.  

Rothwell, S. Histories, James Maskrey Histories, p 4-5, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh, 2015.

Rothwell, S. and Rennie, C. Dan Klein and Alan J Poole Collection, University of Sunderland Publications, 2013.

Glenmorangie Commission1

The Glenmorangie Commission

In 2018, the internationally renowned metalsmith Simone ten Hompel was commissioned by National Museums Scotland and The Glenmorangie Company to create a new artwork inspired by our curatorial research and the Museum’s collection of metal artefacts from early medieval Scotland.

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Cloud Glass 1

Within the new Making and Creating gallery sits a remarkable artwork acquired at the beginning of 2016. Cloud Glass 1, created by the artist Bouke de Vries, is constructed from fragments of archaeological glass found in the Netherlands and fragments of porcelain dolls from an abandoned German kiln site.

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Michael Eden's Portals

This contemporary piece by sculptor Michael Eden celebrates the architectural styles of the National Museum of Scotland.

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GACD Staff Pages Sarah Rothwell Blogs Love Machine 7 1024X682

Blogs by Sarah Rothwell

Read blog posts by Sarah Rothwell, including 'The emotional power of masks', 'Artistic expressions of today: climate change', 'Learning the language of metal: working with Simone ten Hompel', and many more.

Read Sarah's blog posts
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