A new generation of artist-engraver makers is emerging showing that the ancient art of silver engraving is undoubtedly relevant in the 21st century.
Internationally recognised silversmith Malcolm Appleby could see that visits early in his career to workshops and practical experience were inspirational and a catalyst to his own love of making and engraving so over the years he has passed on this experience to new graduates.
A snapshot of the impact this is having on the next generation can be seen in the work of five silversmiths – Kate Earlam, Miriam Hanid, Theresa Nguyen, Karen Marion Wallace and Max Warren – who have all worked beside him in his workshop in Aultbeag in Perthshire.
Kate Earlam uses traditional hand techniques such as raising and engraving combined with hand forming to create her pieces which express her emotions and events. She is continuously intrigued with the way that engraved lines react with light.
Miriam Hanid spent a week studying engraving with Malcolm in 2009 and found it a transformative time. He introduced her to a hand-engraving technique that enables her to add depth to the surface of silver through intricate detail. Her work is inspired by the essence of movement in water, where there is an endless range of forms and patterns, and as silver reflects 98 per cent of light and can look transparent she finds it the perfect material for representing water.
Theresa Nguyen seeks to make pieces that convey a sense of organic form, incorporating sensuous surfaces, creative movement and flow. The inspiration for Awakening I is the idea that all life begins with a seed which holds a wide range of possibilities. The piece is designed to open so the owner is able to hide items in it that are precious to them. The engraved pattern on the surface represents the energy the seed has absorbed from the sun and earth to push out its first shoot that can be seen running down the side.
Karen Marion Wallace graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2007 and has been an apprentice with Malcolm for two years. Her passion is engraving and she has worked with Malcolm on a number of commissions including a pair of candlesticks for St Giles’ Cathedral.
Max Warren reflects culture and the digital world in his imaginative use of the ancient craft of hand engraving which he enjoys because of the direct contact with the material. He feels there is something prehistoric about carving images into metal and an interesting tension when this method is used to translate contemporary ideas. The engraving on #venice was taken from an image from an Instagram photo of a mosaic floor from a church in Venice, hand-engraved on an antique sterling silver salver.
This group exhibited together in Passing It On in March 2014 at The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh. Work by Malcolm Appleby, Miriam Hanid and Max Warren can be seen in The Scottish Gallery and they will work with the other silversmiths in the future.