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New commissions to be made in Silver for Sheffield Assay Office

05 Jan 2018

Each year the office offers a commission opportunity to emerging silversmiths in their second year of the Starter Studio Programme for Designer Silversmiths and jewellers at Yorkshire Artspace. This year the panel made up of independent silversmiths’ Cameron Maxfield and Bob Lamb, and representatives from Yorkshire Artspace, Museums Sheffield and Sheffield Assay Office selected two designs by Josephine Gomersall and Giles Kozdon. The brief for 2017/18 was to create a piece of functional tableware that would celebrate the 245th anniversary of the Sheffield Assay Office in 2018.

Josephine designed a wonderful piece of tableware – using a vintage glass apothecary bottle as a water carafe, the piece will feature a sterling silver botanical stopper in the form of a stylised plant form known as Honesty (Lunaria annua). This perennial plant, which has distinctive elliptical seedpods is often used as a winter decoration. The oval and translucent paper like seed-heads of Lunaria annua gleam with a silvery light hence the name. The piece will feature one special seed pod, with recycled 18ct.Gold for seeds bearing tiny brilliant cut diamonds in invisible settings, donated by Josephine. The piece is functional, the silverware will be a two part piece, the botanical bottle stopper when not in use will become an integral part of a separate silverware piece made up of the stopper, to act as the lid of the vessel / base, which when paired will become a decorative centerpiece and a stand for the stopper. This piece will have presence because of its height but will be delicate in appearance, and is designed to be viewed and enjoyed from any angle. 

Giles spoke of how he was very much inspired by the Tinsley Cooling towers when he first arrived in Sheffield and interested in the industrial history. He described the pre industrial Sheffield a small hamlet with a river running through the fields and how the City had become world famous, an industrial powerhouse, power and steel being pivotal to the City’s success. For Giles without the rich industrialists who depended on the power, creating wealth in the town, there would have been no craft required to adorn their homes, no little mesters’, no apprentices, no college courses teaching the skills of silversmithing and no Assay Office. Giles commented on how fortunate the city was to have such expertise within the silversmithing trade and to have Sheffield Assay Office. Giles revealed awonderful design, two Tinsley Cooling tower candlesticks, each to be to be made from concrete, glass and silver, featuring an internal flame, creating a wonderful dramatic vortex within each cylinder. The initial design was certainly eye catching. 

Assay Master, Ashley Carson said “I am excited about both projects, Giles and Josephine’s designs are very different from one another, most thought provoking. The Sheffield Assay Office will be delighted to see these completed in time for the 245th anniversary celebration in 2018”.

Josephine Gomersall said “I am delighted to have been given the Precious Little Gems 2017/18 commission and really looking forward to designing the glassware and making the silverware in the New Year”. 

The annual ‘Precious Little Gems’ has enabled both of them to test out new ideas, push the boundaries of their practice. Sheffield Assay Office, Yorkshire Artspace and Museums Sheffield look forward to seeing the finished pieces of tableware on display at Museums Sheffield from mid-April 2018. 

Links to websites: 

Josephine Gomersall

Giles Kozdon





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