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Exhibition of work by contemporary silversmiths on view at the Design Museum in Ghent
Huycke & Wuytens, Hamerprint. Silver 925/000, nylon PA 2200. Photo: Huycke & Wuytens© Nederlands Zilvermuseum Schoonhoven.

GHENT.- Creativity, passion, commitment and beauty are the qualities of this exhibition. 22 objects show us how contemporary silversmiths from all over the world are working with this precious metal in a very innovative way.

The Nederlands Zilvermuseum Schoonhoven (Dutch Silver Museum Schoonhoven) has received no less than 91 submissions for the Schoonhoven Silver Award, which is entering its fifth edition in 2012. Silversmiths, designers and artists from all over the world have responded enthusiastically to the museum’s call to ‘come out’. From an array of sometimes very elaborate presentations an expert jury selected 25 participants and invited them to create a new work with which to compete for the Silver Award of the Silver City of Schoonhoven. The selected silversmiths/designers, representing eleven countries including South Korea, Australia, USA and many European countries, will show their very best in pursuit of next year’s prestigious award.

The Schoonhoven Silver Award is an initiative of the Silver Art Foundation (Stichting Zilverkunst). The Award has been presented four times since 2001. Since 2010 the organization of the award has been entrusted to the Nederlands Zilvermuseum in Schoonhoven. In redefining its objectives the Zilvermuseum has included innovation of the traditional art of the silversmith as one of its aims. A broadening of the selection criteria for the award sits well within this forward-looking policy aim.

By challenging silversmiths and design artists from all over the world to explore new artistic and technical ground, and encouraging cooperation between the trade of the silversmith and other artistic design disciplines, the Schoonhoven Silver Award creates a platform for the manifestation of significant new developments.

Two designs in particular emerged as the strongest. From these two the jury elected, as the convincing winner of the Schoonhoven Silver Award , the work Dressing Forethought by the Greek artist, Stratos Kanzelis. The torso presents an artistic, innovative concept that reflects courage and originality in the use of modern techniques in traditional silversmithing. The jury gave an honourable mention to Hamerprint of the Belgian designers’ duo Huycke & Wuytens.

Some interesting designs

• Heather Bayless
House of the House
sterling silver

A bird’s nest removed from a birdhouse is formed like a cube that follows the interior space. Conceptually, the piece focuses on the small-scale interaction between human and nature, the occasional opportunism and eventual dependence, which some organisms display around humans and their structures. Something being so crucial when in use and discarded or ignored after use, gets its preciousness by being ‘built’ from silver.

• Achim Heinkel
Plate 999/000
silver, brass, red colour

Normally we silversmiths design pieces for usage, solid and strong. But over time this traditional meaning has lost its status step by step. I want to show silver in another meaning. Not so much as a practical object but with broken edges, fragile, and with a very special crystalline surface.

• Huycke & Wuytens
Hammer Print
silver 925/000, nylon polyamide

In Hammer Print the two designers have merged their characteristic designs and mastery of the craft into a new, contemporary object. Despite stark contrasts between the design and creation processes of the silversmith and rapid prototyping, the techniques and materials in this object are in perfect balance, creating seamless volume, texture, colour and material transitions that evoke a startling illusion of infinity.

• Stratos Kantzelis
Dressing Forethought
fine silver, copper, stainless steel, Perspex

Prometheus stole the fire from the Olympic gods and gave it to Man. Silversmithing owes its existence to fire. This design is a gift to Prometheus, as an ode to the ancient handcraft and the source of natural science. The observer can view the garment from all sides and at close range, and, thanks to a magnifying lens, can ‘wear’ it on ‘true-to-life’ scale. Every human endeavour should, in a similar fashion, be ‘worn’ by all of us as individuals. The fine silver, its museum-style installation, and the interplay of artificial proportions, make this shirt into a monument for silver.

• Helena Schepens
sterling silver

Diatoms provide more than half of the world’s oxygen supply. Essentially they consist of silicum dioxide, glass. I wanted to liberate them from their scientific hiding place. They are themselves artists with silicon and oxygen. This silver object expresses the symbiotic relationship between science and art. Researchers at the botanic garden in Meise Belgium introduced me into the mesmerizing world of the diatom.

• Eelco Veenman
Set of Pretenders
silver 935/000; h. 8, 13, 26,5 cm

Sometimes a remarkable visual resemblance between air bubble film and silver may lead to a silversmith’s frustration while unpacking his pieces of silverwork.

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