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New commissions for 2020 from the Starter Studio Programme at Yorkshire Artspace

Published: 6th January 2020

New commissions for 2020 from the Starter Studio Programme at Yorkshire Artspace

Each year, Sheffield Assay 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 silversmith, Bob Lamb, Jeweller, Ben Friend and representatives from Yorkshire Artspace, Museums Sheffield and Sheffield Assay Office Chairman, Assay Master and Curator, selected three designs presented by the current participants Abigail Asher, Helena Russell and Holly Clifford.

Design by Abigail Asher
Design by Abigail Asher​​​


Design by Helena Russell


Design by Holly Clifford
Design by Holly Clifford

The brief for 2019/20 was to create a piece of work that would push their own making abilities. The brief asked the participants to think about scaling up the design and making more than one piece, and in the event they were asked to make 20 pieces of the same design to asses how they would rise to the challenge.

The panel were not to be disappointed and all three participants gave excellent presentations and their design pitches showed stunning examples of creativity. Abigail selected a set of napkin rings all depicting elements of industrial Sheffield, Helen created an interchangeable stackable candlestick bearing the Tudor Rose, and Holly designed a silver box featuring her signature eco resin and an intricate contour map of Sheffield.

Assay Master, Ashley Carson said “The presentations get better year on year and we have been spoilt for choice with the designs this year. I am excited about the pieces and look forward to seeing them completed in April”. The pieces will be displayed at Museum Sheffield, Millennium Gallery from 2nd May 2020.

The designers work can be viewed at their individual websites

The Sheffield Assay Office was established in 1773, under an Act of Parliament and today the company assays and hallmarks the precious metals - silver, gold, platinum and palladium. Sheffield Assay Office is one of only four UK assay offices who all work to uphold the Hallmarking Act of 1973 and continue to ensure consumer protection for customers purchasing precious metals.

To find out more about the whole range of services offered by Sheffield Assay Office, such as our hallmarking and analytical services, please email us at or complete the contact form on our website at,

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