Malcolm Appleby (born 1946)

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'Millennium Casket'


18 ct white and yellow gold designed and engraved by Malcolm Appleby, seamed and raised, base of Turkish burr walnut with a large Indian moonstone set in the lid, made in Hector Miller’s workshop by Phu Van Tu. Height 11cm, width 17.3 cm. Marked: Malcolm Appleby, Edinburgh.

One of four commissions made by the Company in 1999 to mark the new millennium. The casket was commissioned to hold wildflower seeds in 200 paper packets, printed with lettering by Appleby, which were parcelled up and sown all over the UK in 2000 as symbols of regeneration. Malcolm Appleby had studied as an apprentice to the gun-making firm John Wilkes; the burr walnut base came from an antique gun. The casket was made by Phu Van Tu, an apprentice in Hector Miller’s workshop, as his masterpiece. It is crafted to Appleby’s design from yellow gold, and white gold alloyed with a high proportion of palladium. Appleby’s spirited narrative engraving covers every inch of the surface. The large cabochon moonstone in the lid suggests the pull of the moon on the tides of the oceans, engraved around the stone. On the sides, a rising and setting sun appear above the ocean, with sunrays playing on waves which glisten in the gold. The whole casket conveys that sense of what Appleby calls “thought energy”, or creative flow; “the desire to make and create and change.” On working with gold, he says: “The beginning of all things is intertwined with the story of gold.” 


In this handling video from the Scottish Gallery Malcolm Appleby presents his Colliding Galaxies beaker in 22 ct gold, explaining the thinking and inspiration behind it.