Posted by: Karin Paynter

28th March 2016

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Category: News

Silver Speaks launches at the Victoria and Albert Museum


Chair of Contemporary British Silversmiths, Rauni Higson welcomes the 200 strong audience to the launch of Silver Speaks

On Tuesday this week, a 200 strong audience arrived at the V&A’s Silver Galleries to attend the launch of ‘Silver Speaks’, Contemporary British Silversmiths’ year-long celebration of silver in contemporary life. The programme of exhibitions, events and talks has been created in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum and is supported by the Goldsmiths’ Company and Arts Council England. It commemorates the joint 20th anniversaries of Contemporary British Silversmiths and the refurbished Whiteley Silver Galleries at the V&A.

The first and focal event, Silver Speaks: ‘Idea to Object’, curated by acclaimed journalist and design critic Corinne Julius, traces how a work in silver is brought into being from the inspiration, through sketches, models, material experimentation and construction processes, to the final piece. The selected designs by 18 members of Contemporary British Silversmiths encompass a variety of beautiful and intriguing objects – both sculptural and functional – created using a range of different processes, from the traditional to the most cutting edge. The launch event also saw the unveiling of the latest very exciting commission for the Silver Trust by Junko Mori, also a member of Contemporary British Silversmiths.

Professor Bill Sherman, Director of Research and Collections at the V&A, gave an uplifting and entertaining opening speech on behalf of the V&A, praising the display for being very much in the spirit of the Museum’s long tradition of working with contemporary makers and showing how pieces move from idea to execution. He was very impressed not only with the quality and ideas of the silver, but also by the unusual, elegant and flexible display by Marcin Rusak.

Rauni Higson, Chair of Contemporary British Silversmiths thanked the V&A and described the association’s transformation over 20 years to one with over 100 members and its “objectives to present contemporary silver in a new and interesting way and to promote it to new audiences”. Praising Eric Turner, Curator, Department of Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics and Glass at the V&A for “in no small way helping to grow the association with his terrific support, dedication and patience” Rauni went on to thank Corinne Julius for her outstanding curatorial work and the Goldsmiths’ Company and Arts Council England for their support, as well as project partners the Silver Trust and London Craft Week, all of whom have collaborated with Contemporary British Silversmiths to create this unique series of events.

Rauni outlined to the audience the association’s “ambitious objectives to celebrate the exceptional level of creativity and skill in British silversmithing today”, describing how the spotlight will shine on some of the most exciting artists and designers – exploring the diverse applications of the material, from the experimental to the traditional, the sculptural to the functional. Silver Speaks will showcase the remarkable uses of silver and how works can be commissioned to enhance contemporary living, architecture and fashion. She also stressed how an important part of the work of Contemporary British Silversmiths is its support, mentoring, training and encouragement of members at all stages of their careers. One of its unique offers is that each exhibition usually features brand new work and so creates a snapshot in time of contemporary silver.

Finally, she paid special thanks to Silver Speaks Director, Karin Paynter, calling her the industry’s ‘secret weapon’, for getting the project off the ground, generating funding and creating partnerships, as well as Vice Chair, Angela Cork for her key role and branding consultants NEON for their exceptional graphics.

Curator of Silver Speaks: ‘Idea to Object’, Corinne Julius gave a fascinating insight into how the pieces were selected for the display and her love of silver, describing silversmiths as “some of the most intellectually engaging across the applied arts”.  She spoke of her delight at the quality and diversity of the objects and her hope that the Silver Speaks: ‘Idea to Object’ event will begin to change the view of contemporary silver. She concluded by urging the audience to “please go out and speak about silver.”
Silver Speaks: Idea to Object is at the V&A until the 31 January 2017.

To see the full programme, click here

A catalogue is available for the event at £3.50 + P&P, please contact us

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