Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Silversmith’s Art: Made in Britain Today

Friday 18 September 2015 – Monday 4 January 2016
National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh
 

Press View: Thursday 17 September 2015, 11.30am –1pm

ADMISSION FREE

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:

“At the heart of The Silversmith’s Art exhibition is the recognition of the incredible creative artistry and craft skills of modern artist silversmiths working in Britain today. The exhibition highlights for the first time that there is something exceptional happening – a new movement in the decorative arts of national importance.” 

Further information and images from David Findlay or Alice Wyllie, Press Office, National Museums Scotland on 0131 247 4165 or email d.findlay@nms.ac.uk.

Notes to editors

  1. National Museums Scotland looks after museum collections of national and international importance and provides loans, partnerships, research and training in Scotland and internationally. Our individual museums are the National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight, the National Museum of Rural Life and the National War Museum. The National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh houses conservation and research facilities as well as collections not currently on display.
  2. The National Museum of Scotland reopened in summer 2011 following a three-year, £50m redevelopment. With over 7 million visitors since reopening, the National Museum of Scotland is the most popular museum in the country outside of London according to ALVA figures.

Header image:

'Shetland Bird' vase, 2013. Sheila McDonald
Measurements: Height 14cm Width 15cm
Image © The Goldsmiths' Company
Courtesy 'Collection: The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths'