HammerClub 2019: An Interview with Silversmith Cecilia Moore
In a first for the UK, the European Silversmiths Forum or ‘HammerClub’ have partnered with the Goldsmiths’ Centre, Dundee of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and the Incorporation of Goldsmiths in Edinburgh to host an exhibition exploring the theme of ‘Renewal’, expressed in a wide range of ways through silversmithing, to demonstrate the beauty and versatility of the metal.
In preparation for the exhibition’s opening at the Centre on July 17th, we caught up with one of the makers contributing work to the event – Cecilia Moore of Dublin, Ireland.
How have you have responded to this year’s exhibition theme of Renewal - what does this word mean to you and how is it reflected through your work?
My response to the theme ‘Renewal’" is a group of three small, playful, patinated objects, titled ‘Lost in Space’. The word ’Renewal’ had several meanings for me, but I chose to focus on two, firstly in my choice of material, and secondly the ideas behind the designs.
I wanted to renew/extend the life of the discarded metal in my scrap bin, so off-cuts from gilding metal raisings, scrap silver and disused copper-etched plates became my material source. Secondly, for ideas of what to make, I wanted to renew images from my childhood as a design source. Growing up in the 1960’s, the era of space age was depicted in my memory with simple comic book graphics of flying saucers and UFOs, these became the inspiration behind the design for ‘Lost in Space’.
Why do you think exchange and collaboration between practicing silversmiths is important?
There is value in both formal and informal networking, the sharing of technical skill and tips, as well as sharing of exhibition and retail opportunities. The community of silversmithing practioners in Europe seems very small compared to jewellers or painters, so collaboration and exchange can only strengthen and grow the practice.
In your view, does European silversmithing differ in any ways to approaches in the UK?
I don't think Europe can be seen as a whole, in Ireland there are very few practicing silversmiths, so my work is shown in fine art or craft/design exhibitions, whereas other countries like Denmark, Holland and Germany seem far more active and supportive of making and exhibiting silversmithing/metalsmithing work. I also see The Contemporary British Silversmith's professional silversmithing skills sharing sessions as a brilliant model that could be replicated by silversmiths in other countries.
Are there any trends that you see as particular to European silversmithing at the moment?
I'm not sure if it is a trend but last year the symposium was held in Hanau, Germany and several German silversmiths spoke about their work, which included commissions for buildings, mainly churches. These not only involved the traditional silverware pieces but also included the overall interior architecture of the building - including furniture, lighting, pews, and altar in the case of the churches. The silversmith was the main interior designer.
Each year the HammerClub hosts a meeting in Europe. This year it took place in Dundee. Why do you think the event is important and how did being in Dundee influence your thinking as a silversmith?
The event is important to me, meeting and hearing silversmiths speak about their work, process and techniques, especially those whose work I have admired and followed over the years. This is not only in the formal setting of the programme, but informally whilst socialising over the weekend. To exhibit work with this international group of silversmiths is to have your work seen and judged by your peers - all participants in the symposium get to vote for their favourite three pieces. This builds momentum for improving and developing your work and adds a sense of friendly competition.
Did you take any new ideas or techniques you want to test away from the symposium?
There were elements in all the presentations at the meeting that I would like to put into practice, in particular Rauni Higson's habit of participating in a silversmithing related course every 2 years, to keep learning, expanding skills and having a freshness in developing ideas. Also, Gordon Hamme provided interesting insight into the world of collectors and long-term investment in silversmithing.