My Inspiration - my grandfather

My grandfather, John Ferguson Gow, was a Harley Street dentist who spent all his spare time making cloisonné silverwork, and when he retired (I think), he got his Hallmark from the London Assay Office and started selling or giving items to churches and organisations. It looks like he only had his Hallmark from 1942 to 1948, but I know he was making things all his life.

 Most of his work is very recognisable with the majority of pieces using the round dark and pale blue floral motif with a bit of green, but he did use other colours. If you look closely at the pieces, he must have had just a few mandrels (probably something out of the kitchen drawer) to make the wire shapes, as the same patterns of wire appears in most of the designs. And for things like the ashtrays, I think he probably bought ready formed ashtrays and riveted his designs onto the piece. 

He made a lot of ashtrays (see above), brooches and pendants (see above) and bookmarks to sell in Harrods. And a lot of church silver. The Alter pieces at St Clement Danes were all made by him and presented to the church when it was rebuilt after the war in the fifties - absolutely perfect colour for the RAF. There are also massive alms dishes at St James Piccadilly, St Albans Abbey (in memory of my father Rev Hendrik Morilyon-Loysen), and St Bartholomew-the-Great the church at Barts Hospital (in memory of his brother Dr Alexander Gow). He also made a huge mace using a narwhal tusk for the Royal Dental Association.

He worked on all the pieces at home -  in the corner of the drawing room, 'fiddling with bits of wire' while my grandmother entertained her friends to tea, in the kitchen with a 'bunsen burner on the kitchen table', wish I could have seen all that, but never spoke to him about all this beautiful work. He was also very hands on and made lots of things in wood - boxes which he used to decorate with his silverwork, stools, all the lamps in the house he built in the Bishops Avenue in the thirties (out of the trees they had cut down to clear space), he obviously loved making things. 

 

I have just written most of this from memory, so there may be some errors – if you have any more info please contact me – thanks.

 

Also if you have any of his work, I would love to see a picture.