H&C Recommends: Made for the Table
Words Vilma Paasivaara
A new show at the Harley Gallery displays the best in shiny silverware from the 1350 to present day, putting contemporary makers in a wider historical context…
Here at Hole & Corner we always appreciate a beautifully-set table – especially when it is done with a selection of handmade silverware from some of the world’s leading contemporary silversmiths. Made for the Table at the Harley Gallery (on the ducal Welbeck estate in Nottinghamshire) takes a look into both modern silverware as well as its long history through a selection from the vast collection of the Goldsmith’s Company.
The exhibition features a set dinner table, completed with ceramics and glassware, displaying works from contemporary makers such as Michael Lloyd, Malcolm Appleby, Jane Short, Angela Cork and Adi Toch. The dining room is preceded by a look into the craft’s history through the pieces presented by Goldsmith’s, revealing both how much continuity there is between the modern and traditional work, as well as highlighting innovative breaks in tradition.
As Lisa Gee, Director at The Harley Gallery, explains, ‘We often associate historic silverware with decadent aristocratic dining, but across the centuries silverware has been used in everyday life. Silver is still a great way to dress your table to add to the theatre of hospitality, and it’s also very practical.’ Indeed, silver utensils have been a constant on dinner tables for centuries since they are easily cleaned and do not taint food.
How traditional techniques inform makers of exquisite silverware today is the central focus of the exhibition. ‘Made for the Table is truly a celebration of techniques, inspiration, and exquisite craftsmanship,’ says Georgia Powell, Assistant Curator of the Goldsmiths’ Company. ‘By drawing comparisons between historic and contemporary pieces, the exhibition helps contextualise the outstanding work of makers working in Britain today.’
A good example of traditional techniques inspiring contemporary design can be seen in the modern cutlery set by Rebecca de Quin. In this work, she used the same hand-forging techniques as one of the pieces on display, dating from 1627. You can watch a film of her explaining the process here.
Another contemporary maker whose pieces are on display, Adi Toch, was also featured in our The Natural Issue. Describing the intricacies of her work, she notes: ‘Through texturing, mark making, colouring and patination, I create a unique visual language of metal.’
Made for the Table is on at The Harley Gallery until January 7th 2018.