General Gallery Reviews

Telegraph & Argus, 18 September 2001

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About Us


Kath puts her mind to a gem of a venture. . .
Kath Libbert admits she took a risk when she gave up her job as a psychologist to run her contemporary jewellery business full-time - but it was a risk worth taking, as Sally Clfford reports.

Flicking through her portfolio while sipping from a coffee cup in Salts Mill, Kath Libbert is modestly proud of her achievements as she recaps on a career which has taken more twists and turns than a rollercoaster ride.
The 42-year-old, who originates from London, is clearly at home in the mill surroundings.
That's understandable when you consider her mother Margaret, who now lives in Canada, came from a mill-owning family, and it's believed one of their relations may have worked at Salts when it was a textile mill.
Kath's work involves showcasing and selling work by up-and-coming British jewellery designers.
The business, which was launched at Salts in 1996, is becoming internationally-renowned throughout the world of contemporary jewellery.
Up until now Kath has worked exclusively with British designers, but she is now developing her business as a platform for international talent with her first international show in November - Schmuck - showcasing work by five German jewellers, and an exchange exhibition with an established gallery in Barcelona is planned for next summer.
But Kath's career started out very differently. Initially, after finishing her psychology degree at Sussex University, where she also found time to do a jewellery course in the evening, she worked on various community-based projects.
Her first post was helping to set up facilities for teenage girls in Brighton, before moving North to help homeless teenagers in Leeds.
Kath's role in youth and community work eventually brought her to Bradford where she worked with the city's Family Service Unit before returning to Leeds to work in community health services - a role which finally enabled her to put her psychology into practice.
But, despite her busy workload, she still found time to fulfIl her hobby - jewellery. Weekends were taken up with travelling to craft and trade fairs where, gradually, she learned her trade and got to know all the up-and-coming jewellery designers. This was to stand her in good stead for the future. Eventually she started buying work from designers which she sold from a table at Leeds Corn Exchange, and she also did jewellery parties. But her ambition was to set up her own business. She had already found the perfect location - Salts Mill.
Initially Kath juggled running the business with her psychologist's role, until she fInally threw caution to the wind and gave her job up in November to concentrate solely on the business. She knew it was a risk and even her mum was concerned it was a 'flight of fancy.'
"I think she thought 1 wouldn't stick to it," said Kath.
But it wasn't a dramatic career change as she thought - she was still helping people but instead of sorting out people's problems and helping them to turn their lives round, she was providing a platform to promote talented people.
She says the job has helped her to spread her wings and given her the opportunity to travel to some of the most beautiful places in the world sourcing new jewellery designers.
And there is no-one more proud of her success than her mum, from whom she says she has inherited her creative flair.
Kath's latest exhibition, showcasing eight British contemporary jewellery designers, is entitled Flight of Fancy and runs until September 30.
But looking back over-her career, Kath is modest about her achievements and is-still coming to terms with the fact that her business, which started off as a table top shop, has evolved into a growing enterprise.
"It has gone from being something on the side-line to something really quite signifIcant to me," said Kath.

Kath Libbert Jewellery Gallery, Salts Mill, Saltaire, Bradford BD18 3LA. Tel/Fax 01274 599790. For directions see About Us
Open Monday - Friday 10am - 5.30pm. Weekends 10am - 6pm.