The silver thread - a journey through Balkan craftsmanship

Elizabeth Gowing

Notice Period:
Emergency (maybe less than one week's notice)
23rd January 2017
Fashion | History | Women | Jewellery

From the mines in the cantos of Dante, to the prizes stolen in the wars of the 'nineties, a silver thread winds through Balkan history. Elizabeth Gowing unravels its most intricate tanglings from the viziers' luxuries in Istanbul and the incongruous filigree fashion show in the Albanian highlands to the serious Yugoslav-era silver schools. En route she visits those who live from lifting the silver from the earth, craftsmen who produce lacy creations from dull sticks of raw material, impoverished collectors who've sold their homes in order to preserve exquisite pieces of jewellery when their governments won't bother, Unesco World Heritage Site churches shimmering with silver artistry, and a brave new generation of women working fragile miracles with hard metals to secure their independence.

The talk is illustrated with some great pictures - my photographs have been exhibited at the National Gallery in Kosovo as well as in London, and published e.g. by National Geographic, The Independent.

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About Elizabeth Gowing

After working in primary education in inner London, Elizabeth Gowing moved to Kosovo in 2006. There she milked her first cow, smoked her first cigar and drank her first cup of proper coffee.

She is the co-founder of The Ideas Partnership charity working with the power of volunteers to tackle challenges in education, cultural heritage and the environment, and with a particular focus on the excluded Roma and Ashkali communities. She is the author of Travels in Blood and Honey; becoming a beekeeper in Kosovo (Signal Books, 2011), Edith and I; on the trail of an Edwardian traveller in Kosovo (Elbow Publishing, 2013), The Rubbish-Picker's Wife; an unlikely friendship in Kosovo (Elbow Publishing, 2015), The Silver Thread; a journey through Balkan craftsmanship (Elbow Publishing, 2017), and *Unlikely Positions in Unlikely Places: a yoga journey around Britain (Bradt Publishing, 2019).

She speaks fluent Albanian and is the translator of the biography of Yugoslavia's longest-held political prisoner, Adem Demaci, and of Hasan Prishtina's memoirs of the 1912 uprising. She is also a regular contributor to Radio 4's 'From Our Own Correspondent' programme.

In 2016 the President of Kosovo awarded her the Mother Teresa Medal for Humanitarian Work and in 2017 Prime Minister Theresa May gave her the 'Point of Light' award for volunteers around the world.

She is a frequent contributor to BBC Radio 4.

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