These collected useful, working objects are presented from a point of view that invites the visitor to explore the narratives behind them, to seek what they might have meant to the person who produced them, and the people who used them in villages and towns, long before mass production. It stopped me in my tracks... because these tools that make, are also made with as much love and care as their final purpose or object. Apparently, each town would have had up to seventy of such workshops. But that even then, one hundred years ago, the Greek writer and coppersmith Athanasios Zafeiropoulos was mourning the loss of these traditional skills from his village.
The manufacturers of the tools, as well as the technicians who use them had "a deep emotional relationship with them" which they often proclaim with the designs and decorations they engraved on the wood and iron. Other times they put their stamp and their signature, a picture or a monogram. Because they wanted the tools they made to be beautiful besides useful. They wanted them to say who made them and who used them.
London Craft Week
To celebrate the importance of the creative hand in conjunction with British Craftweek, Connolly are thrilled to be showcasing the work and skill of three contemporary English silversmiths; Alex O'Connor, Wayne Meeten and Annabelle Hood. Opening on Friday 13th at 10am, we have great pleasure and pride in hosting the three silversmiths over two days, working and creating live, in the shop. A curated selection of their pieces are on display at the shop and will be available to buy or commission.
We welcome Alex, Wayne and Annabelle to our shop where they will showcase their craft especially chasing, inlay and engraving techniques. It is an open house exhibition but please do let us know if you are coming so we can make sure you will have time with each other… and enjoy this unique experience to see their work up close.
Makers at Clifford Street
A L E X O' C O N N O R
Alex designs contemporary silverware and objects which use pure forms and subtly tactile surfaces; each piece celebrates the material and evokes the resilient, dynamic landscape of her native West Cornwall. Vessels and vessels groups are a consistent presence in Alex’s work. These potent, archetypal objects arranged in formal compositions have a contemplative purpose; Alex sees them as containers for meaning and a sense of place.
Alex came to silversmithing from a background in Fine Art and sculpture, so her silverware is preoccupied with form, composition, visual weight, balance and surface. She retrained at Truro College in 2014 with the intention of making elegant, minimal pieces of jewellery but the jewellery kept growing larger and strange hollows began to appear in each piece… At the age of 44 Alex realised that she “wanted to be a silversmith when I grew up” Her work is held in many major private collections and is recognised for its strong aesthetic , it has been shown at Collect, Decorex and the Silver Triennial in Germany amongst many.
Alex will be demonstrating chasing, an ancient technique which involves creating texture, decoration and form by using hammers and punches on the exterior of an object.
W A Y N E M E E T E N
Influenced by his extensive training in Japan, Master maker Wayne Meeten’s pieces exude a quiet calm, but are a sensory extravaganza for the soul. Wayne’s 24 years of training, included extensive learning from living Japanese National Treasures such as Katsuri Morohito & Norio Tamagawa in his quest to perfect his skills. Deeply thoughtful, Wayne expresses in his work, his gentle outlook on life and his passion for Tai Chi Chuan - the soothing and rhythmic movement of which are clearly expressed in all his work regardless of scale. His work clearly crosses the boundary between pure craft and fine art.
Wayne's seminal, award winning masterpiece 'Dancing in the Night Sky' Inspired by the aurora borealis is featured in Craftmasters Collection Privé. His work has been shown internationally including recently at Homo Faber in Venice with the Michelangelo Foundation and has won countless awards including Goldsmiths Premier Gold award in 2020. His work is held in major collections including Chatsworth House, Lionel Rothschild and New College Oxford.
Wayne will demonstrate Japanese dot inlay, a technique rarely seen in the UK, which involves setting fine, precious metal wires into the surface of an object.
A N N A B E L H O O D
Annabel creates contemporary, simple pieces of silverware that are functional for every day use in the home. Her research led work uses surface decoration; hand engraving, chasing and etching to create conversations about important issues. Annabel’s current work is based on research and designs created over the last 18 months in collaboration with Glaciologist, Professor Peter Neinow at Edinburgh University. Using traditional decorative techniques to reflect the issues surrounding climate change.
Annabel studied Silversmithing at Edinburgh College of Art. Her graduation show in 2018 named “Touch” won the Incorporation of Scottish Goldsmith’s Student of the Year award.
After graduating, Annabel worked for renowned Master Silversmith Dr Malcolm Appleby for a year, before setting up her own studio in Edinburgh. Annabel’s work has been exhibited internationally and is held in major private collections worldwide. Her approach has been recognised by a number of industry awards including GCDC (the industry’s equivalent of the Oscars).
Annabel will be demonstrating hand engraving, something of a rare skill (there are only 30 members currently of the hand engravers association in the UK!) Using a graver, a small hand held sharpened point to cut out the surface of the silver, texture and line can be used to create textural designs.
About Craftmasters Gallery
BY FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR HELEN HOOD
Craftmasters is a not for profit gallery representing 31 British Silversmiths from Master makers to recent graduates. Makers are paid a fair price for their work, and all profits are channelled into their Technical Skills Training Fund - supporting emerging makers with vital training to enable them to create sustainable businesses. The project isn’t just about helping new talent, Hood keenly understood that in transferring skills to the next generation of makers, techniques which have changed little in a thousand years are protected for future generations.
The gallery’s curated range of tableware and sculptural pieces show British Silver at it’s best: objects which are easy to live with, and relevant to modern life - understated which is as at home in a contemporary interior as it is a foil to beautiful antiques. Silver is the ultimate modern material in many ways; it is anti-bacterial and completely recyclable. The gallery welcomes commission projects, including melting down unloved family pieces to create heirlooms of the future, and works with it’s clients to open up the mysteries of this exceptionally demanding craft.
Craftmasters is delighted to be hosted by Connolly England for London Craft Week 2022 - both organisations hold craftsmanship and the artisan in high esteem; valuing this as an important part of our cultural heritage; something which should be treasured and nurtured. Using traditional skills to create contemporary objects keeps the craft fresh and exciting says Hood - “you can never become tired of silver, there is always a new idea or concept which speaks through excellent design and workmanship - it’s the same with leather - quality lasts and just becomes better and more loved with age”