Silver: Light and Shade will explore the different processes used by silversmiths to create a range of surface textures and patterns, highlighting the continuity between the techniques used for centuries and those used today. Showcasing the work of skilled contemporary makers alongside masterpieces made over the last 500 years, the exhibition will consider what inspires commissions and how different artists approach them to create extraordinary and unusual objects. It will place extraordinary objects of the past in context, highlighting silver’s enduring appeal in surprising ways.
Heat, chemistry and light are at the heart of any work in metal. Silver: Light and Shade will investigate the experimental techniques used to transform the colour of silver, from patination to mixing this precious metal with other chemical compounds. Gilding is one of the major transformations of much historic silver, both denying and celebrating the silver body. The desire for showy and rich decoration was typical of 19th-century collectors like Sir William Holburne, and this exhibition will explore the thinking behind the use of gilding on silver’s bright and radiant surface.
The exhibition will reintroduce this lustrous material to a wide audience by telling a creative visual story. The exhibition brings together around 70 historic and contemporary masterpieces in silver from UK collections including the V&A, the Ashmolean Museum, Temple Newsam, the Royal Collection, the National Museum of Wales and Goldsmiths’ Company, as well as the Holburne Museum’s own collection.
As part of Silver: Light and Shade, find out about our Silver Stories which will explore the history of objects of silver from our collection by highlighting a series of objects during the show’s run.
The University of Bath