The Silversmith’s Art: Made in Britain Today will celebrate the exceptional artistry and skill that make Britain a world leader in modern silver. The exhibition will present work from the renowned Contemporary Silver Collection of the Goldsmiths’ Company, London, dating from the Millennium to the present day, as well as examine the techniques and inspirations behind the works.
The 150 chosen exhibits – the work of 66 silversmiths – are some of the most treasured of the Collection, showing a progression of design styles as well as the individual artistic personalities of the makers themselves. All items richly contribute to our British heritage of decorative art.
At the heart of the exhibition is the Goldsmiths’ Company’s role as patron of contemporary studio silver. This guild, situated in the City of London, has supported the craft of gold and silversmithing for more than 700 years. Today it has a world-renowned collection of British silver and commissions exceptional creative work each year.
Britain is a world leader in contemporary silver design and the exhibits and silversmiths featured represent the artistic range of talent in Britain today, showcasing some of the most exceptional, diverse and creative silver works of art made since the turn of the 21st century.
The Silversmith’s Art will include works by one of the world’s leading metal engravers Malcolm Appleby, MBE. His outstanding pieces include ‘The Millennium Casket’, 1999, an 18 carat white and yellow gold casket, the lid set with an Indian moonstone, the engraved imagery symbolising the moon’s influence on the tidal oceans, created in his workshop in Scotland, and ‘Tectonic Beakers’ I and II, 2014, made from Britannia silver and enamelled by Jane Short to evoke a vision of steel and gold melting in fire.
The works of 33 women artist silversmiths are included in the exhibition, with exceptional pieces by Sheila McDonald, Angela Cork and Rauni Higson, illustrating the hugely important part women now play in contemporary British silversmithing, a significant and pivotal development in this once male-dominated craft.
In addition to the works themselves, the exhibition examines the techniques and tools used by silversmiths, as well as the inspirations behind a selection of the pieces. As the silversmiths have personal control of every aspect of the creative process – from artistic conception and design, to the execution of the work itself – each piece is not only unique and distinctive, but is an expression of its creator’s personality creating a work of art.
George Dalgleish, Keeper of Scottish History and Archaeology at National Museums Scotland said:
“The Goldsmiths’ Company’s 21st Century Contemporary Silver Collection demonstrates the extraordinary artistry and skill practised by silversmiths in Britain today, and The Silversmith’s Art is certain to be both a mecca for art lovers, and fascinating for anyone with an interest in the craft and artistic process of silversmithing. It is also fitting that this exhibition should be held at the National Museum of Scotland, in a country with a rich heritage of silversmithing, a legacy that continues to the present day.”
Rosemary Ransome Wallis, Art Director & Curator at The Goldsmiths Company, London, said:
“This exhibition celebrates Britain as the leading country in the world for innovative contemporary silver. Now there is no distinction for the artist silversmith between art and craft. Their works of art in silver are creating a modern movement that forms a remarkable renaissance in the decorative arts today.”