In a landmark auction, all pieces from the V&A’s recent Silver Speaks show will go from the exhibition hall to the sale room at Bonhams Knightbridge on September 27, marking the first time a significant museum display of silver has gone directly from display cabinet to auction catalogue.
When Silver Speaks opened in March 2016, it sent a wave of excitement through the craft world. Organised by Contemporary British Silversmiths, the UK’s leading association for design-based contemporary silver, the idea was to commission a series of works that would highlight the versatility of the material, demonstrate its beauty and inspire a new generation of silversmiths.
Some of the makers responded to the demand that they create something that “speaks about silver and its properties” with purely sculptural forms. Nan Liu’s Waves (estimate £12,000-£14,000), for example, is a seductively fluid piece composed of layers of sterling and fine silver, while Kevin Grey’s Animus (£58,000-£62,000) is an intriguing centrepiece hand-formed from silver strips.
Others made more functional – but no less poetic – objects. Ice Windows (£45,000-£50,000) by Clive Burr is a spun silver bowl inspired by the winter seascape he knew as a child, while Silver and Leather Clutch (£5,000-£5,200) by Kyosun Jung is a precious, jewel-like clutch bag, and Brushstroke (£6,200-£6,500) is a shallow dish representing the lines and forms of the Snowdonia landscape where its maker, Rauni Higson, has her studio.
“The groundbreaking show reminded us of Britain’s long and distinguished history at the forefront of silver design and demonstrated it was in safe hands for the future,” says Bonhams head of silver, Ellis Finch. The subsequent sale offers a chance to support the silversmiths behind the work and to own a piece of exceptional beauty.