Silver objects are appreciated for the ‘making’ time and their material costs, but the developmental work is less understood. Mindful of Silver gives value to the thought that lies behind a finished piece, what takes place between the initial thought or concept and the stage at which all decisions have been made.

The exhibition curator Julie Chamberlain explains; “We are all familiar with the vessel as part of the technical heritage of the silversmith so each was challenged to design and make a silver vessel of their choice.  This became the shared starting point for their individual thoughts. The silversmiths were also asked to keep a ‘metaphorical box’ into which they put anything and everything that contributed in some way to the intellectual and physical development of their piece.”  The result is an energetic and honest reportage animated with a fascinating, disparate collection from tea stained scribbles, drawings in differing mediums, photographs, text, objects, models and material samples.

'Spiritus' was created as my showpiece for the Mindful of Silver exhibition for the Goldsmiths’ Company in 2011. The inspiration for this piece came from observing how plant life get their sustenance from the sun and reach out and respond to its energy.

Fold forming was the key technique that I used in shaping the silver, the aim being to try and capture the energy of life that comes from the sun and the energy that is fully on display in the natural world.

Theresa Nguyen has produced an open and fluid form that references multiple leaves unfurling from a tightly packed centre. Nguyen’s ideas stem from a love of wild landscapes and her close observation and study of the energy of natural growth and nature’s response to the sun.

Using photography and freely drawn sketches, Nguyen records an array of natural material, focusing her exploration on form, movement and in particular the overlapping pattern of leaves. Nguyen’s skill as a freehand illustrator enables her to capture the life and essence of the plant she is studying. Through this observation and recording process, an understanding of the qualities that intrigue her is increased prior to moving into three dimensions.

by Julie Chamberlain, 2011 Catalogue for Mindful of Silver

I explore the more subtle qualities of form through model making with paper and wire, often in combination with the leaves themselves. Running parallel to the visual development of the form is a problem solving exercised in how best to join the multiple leaves together to create the desired effect. Once the proportions, scale, form and method of construction of a final piece have been established in this way, the transition to silver begins. The exploration of the sensuous surfaces and undulating forms is carried out through the technique of fold forming, and under the hammer the pieces are brought to life.

The Spiritus piece is now part of the permanent collection of the Goldsmiths’ Company.