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Little Gems Commission 2015

We are delighted to announce that two young Starter Studio silversmiths Jodie Hatcher and Florence Carter have been chosen to receive the annual ‘Precious Little Gems’ commission from the Sheffield Assay Office. This award will mean a lot to Jodie and Florence as they will be given a budget and materials in order to make a new piece of work which will then be displayed in Museum Sheffield’s Millennium Galleries. 

The Little Gems commissions project was started in 2004 to develop new silversmithing talent in Sheffield and continue the city’s longstanding tradition of metalworking expertise and creativity. The project gives up and coming makers a unique opportunity to see their designs join the work made by some of the UK’s leading silversmiths in the city’s nationally significant metalwork collections. This will be the tenth year the Sheffield Assay Office has commissioned  new Little Gems pieces, created by talented early-career silversmiths who are part of Yorkshire Artspace’s prestigious Starter Studio Programme for Silversmiths and Jewellers. All of the Little Gems artworks reflect the interests and skills of each individual maker. These commissions, worth £1500 each, provide the silversmiths with time and materials to develop their ideas into an ambitious new piece of work.

Florence will be basing her work on the seven hills of Sheffield, creating a piece that brings together the rolling landscape with her angular geometric style. Jodie has been working on woven vessels recently, and intends to combine this with an element of lighting. We look forward to seeing how these artists develop their pieces.  The completed work will be on display in the main reception area of Millennium Galleries, Sheffield from April to September 2015.

Aditional Background Notes:

• Museums Sheffield’s Metalwork Collection has been classed as a Designated Collection by the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) in recognition of its national and historical significance. The collection, which exemplifies the Sheffield’s rich cultural and historical association with the production of metal that dates as far back as the 14th century, is housed in the Millennium Gallery. Comprising over 13,000 pieces it pays tribute to the skill and craftsmanship of past British metalworkers as well as highlighting the most contemporary cutting edge designs by new and emerging talents.

• The Starter Studio Programme for Silversmiths and Jewellers is a two year rolling programme for early career silversmiths and jewellers who have access to a fully equipped space, business support, mentoring and technical expertise as well as exhibition and commission opportunities. It has been in existence since 2002 and has supported over 20 young makers to date. Application forms for the October 2012 intake are now available from the Yorkshire Artspace website.

• Little Gems is an annual commission worth £1500 for early career silversmiths who are part of the Starter Studio Programme for Silversmiths and Jewellery at Yorkshire Artspace to design and create new work. These commissions are provided by the Sheffield Assay Office and are displayed for a period of 6 months in the main reception area of Museums Sheffield: Millennium Gallery

• The Sheffield Assay Office was licensed to assay silver in 1773 and is one of the four assay offices in the UK. From 1906 changes in the law allowed some its surplus to be spent on providing a collection of books or objects and the Office now has a large specialised library and a magnificent collection of silver, much of it made in Sheffield. The collection numbers more than 1000 items of silver and silver plate, dating right back to 1773 and spanning the centuries right up to the present day. Each year a commission is made to add to the collection, from the most elaborate and ornate historical pieces to the stunning simplicity of the more contemporary pieces, including The Little Gems pieces made by participants of the Starter Studio Programme at Yorkshire Artspace.

Image: Detail from one of Jodie Hatcher's woven vessels. Courtesy of the artist.