Glamour, allure and functionality are qualities that give contemporary silverware its desirable edge. The skills involved in combining traditional craft techniques with an elegant modern aesthetic to create such objects will be wonderfully demonstrated by 13 top designer-makers in a selling exhibition opening this week in Bradford.
Take Rauni Higson’s Aflame bowl (£2,800), whose rippled base and 3D, leaf-like decoration are inspired by her Snowdonia homeland, or Chien-Wei Chang’s bamboo-shaped water can series (second picture, from £800), which references a natural element of his native China. Both designer-makers unite skilled craftsmanship with contemporary sensibilities, while Adrian Hope’s Snowflute bowls (from £400) are perfect examples of how a traditional technique (hand-raised silver) can be employed to create designs with strong contemporary appeal.
Many of the pieces on show have exhibition gravitas, yet can be used on a daily basis. Adi Toch’s rounded oil and vinegar pourers (first picture, £1,850 for a set), which recently won the Goldsmith’s Company Best New Design award, would make dressing a salad a tactile, pleasurable experience. Jacqueline Scholes’ condiment dishes (£600) could prove a conversation-sharpener at cocktail hour, and Sally Cox’s endearing caddy spoon (£240) is likely to become a friend for life.
Dramatic eye-catchers include Abigail Brown’s imposing fruit bowl (£4,000) and Swirling vase (£1,250), while quirkier pieces include Rebecca Joselyn’s gilded Crushed Can jug (£740) and Ring Pull salt and pepper bowls (£490 for the set) from her Packaging series, which explores themes related to throwaway consumerism. More personal wares include Marion Kane’s elegant storage boxes (third picture, from £290) and Jenifer Wall’s spectacle cases made from steel inset with silver (from £510).
All the designer-makers in this show at Kath Libbert Jewellery Gallery accept commissions and, at a special event on Sunday June 9, Rauni Higson will discuss her techniques, inspiration and approach to commissions, while Crafts Council patrons Jacqueline and Jonathan Gestetner will share the pleasures that collecting contemporary silver brings. “Commissioning has the same emotional appeal as inheriting an heirloom piece – it’s a really personal experience witnessing how something is made from its inception,” says Jacqueline, by way of a teasing opening gambit.