Irish silversmiths at the V&A

From the Spring 2016 edition

Two Irish artists, Stuart Cairns and Cara Murphy, will exhibit their work in the V&A, London, as part of ‘Silver Speaks: Idea to Object,’ curated by Corinne Julius, which runs in the V&A Silver Galleries from 8 March to 31 January 2017. The exhibition traces how a work in silver is brought into being from inspiration, through sketches, models, experimentation and construction, to the final piece. The selected designs in the exhibition, sculptural and functional, are made using both cutting edge and traditional processes. Among them, Murphy’s Juxtapose is made in silver and brick: four polished drinking cups, each set with a brick pebble that finds its place in the indentation of another of the cups. The cups were made using a hydraulic press and the process of ‘deep drawing’, which was pioneered in Ireland by Murphy’s father, Michael McCrory. The pebbles were fixed in place once the rest of the cup was finished. The work of Stuart Cairns, who is also from Northern Ireland, also uses non-precious objects in combination with silver. His piece at Silver Speaks, From Five Finds, includes found objects, linen thread, twigs, and a steel wiper insert as well as sterling silver, which is used to join the component parts. The processes that he uses include soldering, oxidisation, hammering and milling. The finished objects are reminiscent of tools, although one cannot tell what they might actually be for. ‘Silver Speaks: Idea to Object’ is part of an eleven-month programme of exhibitions and events organized by Contemporary British Silversmiths, an association for design-led silversmithing.

Eleanor Flegg is a writer and craft historian.

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