An interview with Gareth Evans, a gilder and restorer, who spends two weeks each year teaching gilding at the leading furniture design college, the Chippendale School of Furniture.
Gareth Evans studied painting at St Martin’s College of Art in London which he loved. Afterwards, he worked with a friend at a gilding workshop on Fulham Road. He went on to gild alongside Paul Ferguson, President of the Master Gilders’ Association. Next, with a little help from the Prince’s Trust, Gareth set up his own gilding workshop in West Wales.
Gareth does a lot of work for antique dealers on the King’s Road and Pimlico Road in London. His clients include the interior design trade.
“I’ve done a big project at the Corinthia Hotel near the Strand using ‘verre eglomise’ gold gilding onto glass to create an amazing mirror effect on the ceiling,” says Gareth Evans. “My client didn’t want to use mirrored glass but wanted to use top spec finishes. The Corinthia is the biggest modern gilding project in Europe. Depending upon the angle, the ceiling either looks like a graphite rubbing or a mirror; it changes between looking transparent and solid. Thirty thousand triangles of glass were laid back-to-back to achieve this effect.”
The Corinthia Hotel, which has 294 rooms and London’s largest spa as well as infamous connections to Muammar Quaddafi, has a website which describes it as “a graceful and historic luxury hotel that sets new standards in opulence and comfort. … our new flagship provides state-of-the-art facilities in an eminent building dating back to 1885 and the Empire days of Queen Victoria… Our Undisputed Jewel in the Crown.”
Gareth continues: “I’m currently working on five pieces of furniture – nineteenth century oval mirrors – for the Olympian Antique Fair. Another piece of work is for Holkham Hall in Norfolk.
“Gilding is all about reputation, training and experience. There has always been demand for gilding. Some of the most valuable pieces of furniture are created using gilding. Over the centuries, there’s been no better way than gilding to show off your wealth.”
When asked about his most unusual commission, he said: “I once gilded a model’s eyelids for a fashion shoot!”
And, on the Furniture School:
“I enjoy my visit to the Chippendale School of Furniture. It’s nice to see people doing something creative. Some of the students have given up lucrative careers to learn about furniture design at the Furniture School.
“I teach the students how to prepare wood for the process of gilding. The process itself hasn’t changed much since the Renaissance – believe it or not, we use the same tools you’d use in a Renaissance workshop! The students learn how to silver the glass to make a mirror. They gild the frame and some other pieces of furniture as well.
“Gilding is all about beauty and the importance of that can’t be over stated,” Gareth concludes.
Gareth Evans can be contacted on 07969 030472 or firstname.lastname@example.org