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Sheffield Silversmiths Awarded the 2021 Jerwood Art Fund Makers Open

Published: 13th May 2021

Many congratulations to the artists Francisca Onumah and Helena Russell who have been awarded the 2021 Jerwood Art Fund Makers Open. They will jointly create a new commission for display at Jerwood Space in London before it goes on national tour throughout 2022-23 travelling from Newlyn Art Gallery and the Exchange in Cornwall to Aberdeen Art Gallery.

Working in collaboration, Francisca Onumah and Helena Russell are silversmiths based in Yorkshire Artspace, Sheffield and both have participated in the Starter Studio Programme for Jewellers and Silversmiths supported by Sheffield Assay Office. They have also made wonderful commissions to both Sheffield Assay Office and Sheffield Museums and are now registered customers of the Sheffield Assay Office.


Left; Piece by Francisca Onumah. Right; Piece by Helena Russell. Copyright - Jerry Lampson

For the Jerwood Art Fund Makers Open, Francisca and Helena are developing a new collaborative installation of tableware pieces made using traditional silversmithing tools that they have restored. Their research includes documenting stories of ‘Little Mesters’ and capturing the living histories of a once-thriving silverware industry in Sheffield, to inform their practice today. 

They were selected from over 500 applications in response to a UK-wide call for entries for self-directed proposals from artists, makers and collaborators who are between one and ten years of establishing their practice. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, for this edition the awardees receive an increased award of £10,000 each plus curatorial and production support from the Jerwood Arts team to enable the making of new work over an extended twelve-month period. The judges were Dame Magdalene Odundo, potter; Yinka Ilori, artist and designer; Junko Mori, artist, maker in metal; Christine Rew. Art Gallery and Museums Manager at Aberdeen Art Gallery and Harriet Cooper, Head of Visual Arts at Jerwood Arts.

Jerwood Makers Open was established in 2010 to recognise and promote the significance of making practice and process within contemporary visual arts. It supports exceptional UK-based artists and makers to develop their creative ideas independently, enabling them to experiment, learn and take risks with substantial curatorial support. This eighth edition launches a new collaboration with Art Fund and a partnership with Aberdeen Art Gallery, who host a dedicated curatorial role to support the project. It will tour to Newlyn Art Gallery in summer 2022 before travelling to Aberdeen Art Gallery in autumn 2022.

To find our more about Helena and Francisca's work visit:

Helena Russell Silversmith

Francisca Onumah Metalsmith

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