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We have been busy recruiting the new cohorts for the Starter Studio Programmes for Silversmithing (now entering it's 10th year!)  The starter Studio Programme for Silversmithing and Jewellery is based at our city centre Persistence Works Studios where a maximum of 6 early career makers have access to a fully equipped workshop with technical, mentor and ongoing business support.  Sponsored by the Sheffield Assay Office since 2001, the programme has supported 18 silversmiths to date, most of whom are now working from their own workshops around the UK.  

In October 2010 we recruited new starters Chiara Bett, Alexander Kerrison, Cathy Sutherland (pictured) and Zoe Watts will be joining Sally Cox at Persistence Works Studios.  This is how they describe what they do:

Chiara Bett, jeweller

A deep fascination with the human figure and the Fantastic is what distinguishes Chiara Bet's pieces of sculptural jewellery; the playful use of body forms and the rich palette of silver and gold are evocative of fanciful creatures of a Classical Grotesque nature and opulent artworks of Renaissance times, a reflection of her Italian background.

In her work she aspires to recreate the sense of wonder and amusement so peculiar to such styles by embedding her own myths and legends in figurative pendants, necklaces and brooches – offering bite size escapism from a disenchantment of reality. To effectively render the narrative of her designs, she turned to wax carving, producing rather sculptural models based on the theme of deformity and unlikely unions within the human body.  The use of wax gives her the opportunity to either electroform or cast her pieces in metal, allowing for the ready transposition in real life of the creatures inhabiting her thoughts.

Drawing is a crucial part of the creative process for Chiara.  She likes to keep the energy of the designs alive through the making. Gemstones become part of the composition as a detail and narrative device, while the use of dark patina sets the mood for the work and the story behind it. Each piece has a history drawn from her interest in the mythological as well as her most intimate mindscapes, and it is to be understood in the tradition of ornamental Grotesque.

Alexander Kerrison, silversmith

Alexander Kerrison is a designer and maker of contemporary pieces in a range of different materials and processes, specializing in silversmithing and glass blowing.

Alex enjoys travel and feels inspired by the different landscapes he encounters. In his work he tries to convey the movement and contours of landscape. He uses a variety of processes from traditional hammering to pressing and casting. Recently he has started to combine silver with glass. This enables him to bring brightness of colour and light reflection into the work.

"I am as passionate about metal, especially silver, as I am about glass. To create my work I have to use very different skills. Silver and other metals take time to transform through repetitive movements whilst glass is quick, you only have a short amount of time to get it right. I love combining these materials – it opens up the scope of what I can achieve"

Alex graduated with a 1st class (Hons) degree in 3D Design from the University of Wolverhampton in June 2011. He exhibited his work in the Queens Gallery in New Delhi, India in 2011 and was also awarded a Goldsmiths Company’s ‘Precious Metal’ Bursary. Since joining the Starter Studio Programme for silversmiths in Sheffield he has been commissioned by The Cutler’s Hall to design and make a goblet for their private collection and he has recently been commissioned for Little Gems 2012, an annual commission from the Sheffield Assay Office to create new work. This will go on display at Museums Sheffield: Millennium Galleries in March 2012.  

Cathy Sutherland, jeweller

Cathy Sutherland's jewellery is influenced by the human body and the way we interact with objects around us.  Her sculptural jewellery is inspired by delicate insects, fragile skeleton leaves and particularly human skin that, when studied more closely, bear the intricate networks of lines and detailed patterns that reflect the incredible natural surface decoration.

Hands and touch have been key themes throughout her work and my pieces are always made with reference to hands, skin and human contact. The curved, fluid shapes have been created through the process of piercing the lines and then chasing the texture throughout the piece, which allows her to reflect, in metal, the movement of the body and repetitive patterns of the skins surface.

She prefers the objects' surfaces to be uneven yet smooth, inviting you to ‘feel’ the patterns of the metal.  Cathy creates tactile objects that are personal and reassuring, shaped to fit comfortably in the hand and turned around in the fingers. She uses a combination of silver and patinated base metals as she enjoys the process of patination using acids and the combination of colours.

Zoe Watts, silversmith/jeweller

Zoe is a silversmith and jeweller working with traditional techniques. She creates beautiful, tangible objects that both retain a functional element and express her fascination with the natural elements.

"I seek inspiration particularly from movement within nature; the twisting turmoil of storms or the curling of the waves, and am intent upon translating the undulation of natural energy into my pieces. Intrigued partly by the juxtaposition of interesting form and texture, I enjoy the process of watching relief, shape and form being born and continuously evolving from flat precious metal sheet by means of hammering, chasing, twisting, coiling and shaping, and more recently fusing".

Zoe finds the journey of spontaneous experimentation and the choices she has to make during the making process especially exciting.  Zoe exhibited at the 2011 Goldsmiths Fair in London and was recently awarded the 2012 Little Gems commission, due to be displayed at Museums Sheffield Millennium Galleries from end of March 2012 for a period of 6 months.

Chiara, Alex, Cathy and Zoe will be joing Sally Cox who is now in her second and final year of the programme.

Sally Cox, silversmith/jeweller

Sally joined the programme in October 2010.   She was offered a Sheffield Assay Office Littel Gems commission to produce new work for Galvanize Sheffield 2011 which was shown at the Millennium Galleries. She then went on to design and make a contemporary consort's badge for the Cutler Company of Hallamshire who installed their first female Master Cutler in October 2011. Sally is currently working on a new collection which she will be exhibiting later this year.