The silversmiths selected for this year's Little Gems commissions, Colette Bishop and Sarah Pasley, were given a surprise donation in the form of 1kg bar of fine silver each. Ashley Carson, the Assay Master at the Sheffield Assay Office presented them with the silver in their workshop at Persistence Works Studios.
He explained: “We have sponsored Little Gems for the last 10 years and it has helped us to develop a fantastic contemporary collection both for the Sheffield Assay Office and Museums Sheffield’s Metalwork Collection. This year we asked the two silversmiths to respond to the theme of 100 years of stainless steel and also look at ways to see how the pieces could celebrate 240 years of Sheffield Assay Office. However, we were keen to bring in an additional sponsor and we are grateful to Kevin Bloor of Capella Manufacturing, a bullion dealer based in Buxton which added an additional challenge”. The price of precious metals has been increasing significantly over the last 5 years and both sponsors believed it would test the artists if they were offered a bar of pure silver - a material that is both beautiful in colour but also quite soft and possibly tricky to work with – and ask them to use some or all of it in the new pieces they were proposing to create.“It is worth much more than the usual £500 we offer towards materials”, explained Ashley Carson, “these young silversmiths, being new to business, will be foreced to think differently about earning money, attracting media attention and responding to commission opportunities.”
The Sheffield Assay Office has offered the Little Gems commissions to all the silversmiths selected for the Starter Studio Programme since 2003. This year's Little Gems artworks will go on display in the entrance foyer of Millennium Gallery from 3rd May, co-inciding with Galvanize Sheffield festival for contemporary metalwork (3rd to 13th May 2013).
The exhibition 'Little Gems - ten years on' in the Metalwork Gallery at Millennium Gallery showcasing for the first time all 19 Little Gems pieces made to date.
A full press release is downloadable from the press page of this website.