Resident Silversmiths Create New Sculpture at Shakespeare’s Family Home

by: Nazanean Shirani

29-Mar-17

Resident award winning silversmiths Benjamin James Ryan and Rupert Todd were commissioned to create sculptural artworks to celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death in 1616.

The two large sculptures are part of a £5.35 million redevelopment of William Shakespeare’s family home 1597 -1616, on Chapel Street in Stratford-Upon-Avon. The public garden where the sculptures are located was designed to commemorate the importance of the site and allows visitors to make their own personal connection with Shakespeare. The commissioned artworks throughout the site evoke Shakespeare’s family life, major works and the context in which he lived during the nineteen years he owned New Place. The sculptures provide a subtle insight to the creativity, education and knowledge of the world-renowned playwright.


In 2012 Ben and Rupert were part of the first intake into what is now known as the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s Setting Out programme. They went on to found their own creative businesses Wax-Masters Ltd and Ursae Ltd and moved into their own workshop at the Goldsmiths' Centre. Rupert explains 'in the creation of these sculptures we have used all the expertise we have gleaned from our time on the Goldsmiths’ Centre's Postgraduate Programme, both in terms of design and advanced CAD techniques, without which the creation of the pieces would have been impossible.' 


Based on the duos design expertise, knowledge of materials, and past commissioned silversmithing and jewellery portfolio, they were tasked with creating arguably the sites two most complex installations. Ryan explains 'the sculptures became a real labour of love, and the opportunity to design and create something that could potentially be there in hundreds of years to come was something we could not turn down. The real challenge was executing a high quality finish and standard of manufacture on such large intricate pieces'. The sculptures utilised a myriad of hand craft skills, techniques and new technologies to help bring the art pieces to fruition. The design process incorporated the use of a number of computer aided design programmes, as well as cutting edge manufacturing process including; CNC 5-axis laser cutting, CNC machine turning and milling, 3-axis Water-Jet Cutting, 3D rapid prototyping as well as state of the art centrifugal vacuum casting and larger scale gravity casting processes.

The artworks were designed to be informative and give insight to how the Tudors thought their country was at the epicentre of the world. This is subtly illustrated with the globes axis travelling through the UK and by the earths precious core having an off centre bias. For the Tudors the unknown world is dark and disturbing, while the known is bright, shining and anglocentric. Rupert explains ‘both pieces were a significant undertaking, and involved not only a lot of careful design and calculation, but a huge degree of physical work.  We hope though, that we have managed to do justice to Shakespeare and his home, and that the works will be appreciated by the general public for years to come'. 



You can see more of Benjamin Ryan's and Rupert Todd’s work online at www.ursae.com

Click here for more information and how to apply to the Setting Out programme at the Goldsmiths' Centre.