Made for the Table at The Harley Gallery presents contemporary silver from the Goldsmiths’ Company Silver Collection. A bespoke dining table is laid with newly commissioned silver and a selection of modern glass, ceramics and textiles by leading UK artisans, brought together in a vibrant and colourful display. This modern table setting is introduced by extraordinary silver acquired by the Company over the last 500 years, reflecting its long history of patronage.
Alluding to the evolution of style in tableware and the decorative arts more broadly, the exhibition, featuring over 70 pieces, explores how contemporary silversmiths are still inspired to make precious handmade objects for the table. Likewise, the public continues to be intrigued by traditional craft skills and the experience of using objects made by hand.
Georgia Powell, Assistant Curator of the Goldsmiths’ Company, states: “Made for the Table is truly a celebration of techniques, inspiration, and exquisite craftsmanship. It reflects the Goldsmiths’ Company’s unique and continued patronage of domestic pieces made to be used and enjoyed. By drawing comparisons between historic and contemporary pieces, the exhibition helps contextualise the outstanding work of makers working in Britain today.”
The social and historical importance of salt assured its prominence on the table in highly ornate salt cellars such as the 16th century examples in this exhibition. The trading of this valuable commodity brought wealth to cities and interestingly, the English word salary derives the Latin salarium, itself deriving from the Latin salisfor salt. Adi Toch’s cutting-edge ‘Pinch of Salt’ bowl (2010) comments on the preciousness of salt while raising ideas of containment and display; the user is restricted to take only a small pinch.
Additionally, the exhibition examines the techniques and tools used by silversmiths as well as the inspirations behind a selection of pieces. A modern cutlery set by Rebecca de Quin commissioned this year has been made using the same hand-forging technique as the antique examples on display dating from 1627. De Quin also explains her process in a technical film accompanying the silver.
From serving dishes to cutlery and sculptural bread baskets to wine coasters, the exhibition demonstrates both continuity and a break with tradition. As much as there have been changes in taste and style, domestic silver continues to be a source of inspiration.
4 November, 2017 – 7 January, 2018 at The Harley Gallery