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MINDFUL OF SILVER
The journey of a vessel from conception to completion
A dynamic and revelatory exhibition by 12 leading contemporary British silversmiths

At Goldsmiths' Hall
From Friday May 27 to Saturday July 16, 2011
Admission Free

Mindful of Silver is an exciting and stimulating exhibition which challenges our perceptions of the modern day silversmith and illustrates the intellectual and practical design process involved in the making of innovative, design-led contemporary silver.

"Heptagonal Covered Jug" by Hector Miller, 2010

The lid of this arc shaped vessel transforms into a locked handle. Sterling silver, formed, cast and fused construction with enamel by Frances Loyen.

Miller has delivered a “tour de force” and pushed the boundaries both creatively and technically with his elegant silver vessels.  At first glance the vessels looks like a stunning decorative silver sculpture but in fact the top unhinges to form a natural handle thus making two practical jugs.  Inspired by the Dragon Tree, Hector’s design sequence from its conception to completion is documented by a series of drawings and models.

Twelve stunning, yet contrasting silver vessels form the core of the exhibition, each made by a different leading British silversmith.  The participating silversmiths namely Vladimir Böhm, David Clarke, Rebecca de Quin, Sarah Denny, Alistair McCallum, Grant McCaig, Hector Miller, Peter Musson, Theresa Nguyen, Michael Rowe, Toby Russell and Lucian Taylor were chosen as they embody differing philosophies and approaches to their craft and demonstrate interesting, diverse making processes.

Liner Jug" by Toby Russell, 2010

Sterling silver - scored and folded by hand from flat sheet

In order to produce his scored and sheet folded jug, Toby Russell had to overcome the challenge of converting his final design from a card model into silver. He explains “Paper has its own unique quality and in some ways is less flexible than silver sheet. I never truly know how the design will convert or how far the silver can be pushed”. 

The image that inspired Toby throughout the design process was that of a prow of a boat cutting through water and as a keen swimmer and surfer, he is naturally drawn to images of waves.

The exhibition curator Julie Chamberlain explains; “We are all familiar with the vessel as part of the technical heritage of the silversmith so each was challenged to design and make a silver vessel of their choice.  This became the shared starting point for their individual thoughts. The silversmiths were also asked to keep a ‘metaphorical box’ into which they put anything and everything that contributed in some way to the intellectual and physical development of their piece.” 
"Becoming Spherical I" and "Becoming Spherical II" by Lucian Taylor, 2010

Fine silver - sections TIG welded together, then hydroformed

While the results are totally different, both Peter Musson and Lucian Taylor like to fuse the precision of modern technologies with the unpredictability of traditional hand-raising skills.

 

“π ” (or "pi") by Peter Musson, 2010


Fine Silver, positive and negative electro-deposition using computer controlled milling.







"Mokume Gane Bowl" by Alistair McCallum, 2010


Hand raised Mokume Gane bowl made from 128 layers of silver and gilding metal.


The ancient Japanese metalworking technique of Mokume Gane (wood grain metal) is taken to new heights in a bowl by Alistair McCallum made using an incredible 128 layers of silver and gilding metal. 

 

The final bowl emerged after considerable deliberation, documented by numerous drawings and a series of smaller hand-raised bowls made with much fewer layers.  The layers were then dramatically increased in scale and number, and finally the bowl was hand-raised to produce a simple form that harmoniously complements the random organic nature of the pattern. 

"Carafe and four Cups". by Grant McCaig 2010

Pleated Fine Silver, seamed and hand raised
 

"Spiritus" by Theresa Nguyen, 2010

Fold-formed, hammered and soldered

Theresa Nguyen’s “Spiritus”, is a conceptual vessel for aesthetic effect. She has interpreted the notion of containment by producing an open and fluid form composed of multiple leaves unfurling from a tightly packed core. Theresa began by visiting some of the country’s most renowned gardens and freely sketching the form, movement and overlapping patterns of leaves. The proportions and scale of the design then evolved three dimensionally through model making in paper, wire and real leaves.

"Shape and Form" by Rebecca de Quin, 2010

Hand raised sterling silver vessel with printed & anodized aluminum silhouette on paint finished MDF base.

Rebecca de Quin’s silver vase, its elegant lines echoed in a two-dimensional silhouette of blue aluminum, takes on the form of a still-life painting.

 

"Blackened dish" by Vladimir Böhm, 2010

Sterling and Britannia silver forged, raised and reticulated with patination.

Vladimir Böhm's flat, rounded and textured dish  took its inspiration from the weight and solidness of a centuries old cattle trough in a village in his native Croatia. 

"Plunging Form" by Sarah Denny, 2010

Hand-raised from a single flat sheet of Britannia silver

Sarah Denny’s sculptural vessel “Plunging Form” seeks to express simple changes of movement within an object and celebrates the natural beauty of her native Yorkshire.  Sarah’s vessel went through the physical process of pencil to paper, to plasticine and then papier-mâché models followed by hours of hammering to raise the form from a large single blank of silver.

"Deepest Deeperer spoon" by David Clarke, 2010

Antique sterling silver spoon and precious white metal using simple hand fabrication technique

David Clarke has a reputation for producing engaging, intelligent and challenging domestic objects.  His take on a vessel was to start with a spoon: “I respond to spoons and see them as the beginning. In the background is the tradition of silversmithing. My reaction is to subvert the subject and place strange, odd or humorous objects back into this dull predictable and stiflingly conservative arena.”

In keeping with his design ethos David uses old squeezy bottles and mangled spoons to help him formulate his ideas.  Despite his radical thoughts his resulting vessel, with its graceful narrow shape and spoon on the top, serving both as handle and lip, is extremely sophisticated and elegant.






'Pre-genus 10' by Michael Rowe 2011

925 silver, textured aluminium plate, card/string tag. Hand fabrication and finishing techniques

 Michael Rowe takes a radically conceptual approach looking at the relationship between containers and what they contain. The humble Ryvita provides the vehicle for an exploration of geometrical proportions in silver for the table.

Ryvita is made to the golden proportion, a formula that is followed through in its packaging making for an economical use of space and this, together with other geometrical ratios forms the basis of his group of vessels, treated as a site-specific display.  The textured silver foundation echoes the crinkly, grained surface of the cracker.
The exhibition is a journey of visual and thoughtful discovery for both the maker and viewer – hence the title “Mindful of Silver”.

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All photographs and text courtesy of Goldsmiths' Hall
Web design by Marbeth Schon
 Copyright ©
2011 Modern Silver Magazine

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