Aberdeen silver set to shine at stunning exhibition

2 November 2012

Aberdeen Art Gallery's major autumn exhibition SILVER, The Aberdeen Story, opens this weekend [Saturday 03 November].

This magnificent new exhibition brings together objects from both public and private collections from the UK and abroad, to tell the story of silver produced in Aberdeen, from the earliest known existing works to the present day.

With over 200 pieces on display - many from the city's own outstanding collections - the show provides a rare opportunity to appreciate the skill and artistry of Aberdeen's craftsman in silver and gold in what was once a flourishing and international trade.

Aberdeen's goldsmiths played a significant role in the economic, social and civic life of the city over the last four centuries and were in touch with the latest fashions in Britain and Europe. Examples of their craft featured in the exhibition include church silver, spoons, teapots, commemorative pieces, medals and jewellery. Some of the pieces have never been seen in public before.

Among the earliest pieces on display are the Fintray Cup Communion Cup by Hew Anderson dating to 1633 and the King's College Mace by Walter Melville, which is of international importance. Other highlights from the 17th century and early 18th century - the heyday of the craft - are the Huntly Race Prize Cup, the impressive Aberdeen Grammar School Prize Arrow and Medals and the Strathnaver Cup. Pieces by Aberdeen's finest 18th century goldsmiths including George Robertson, Coline Allan, John Leslie and George Cooper are also on display. The story of William Jamieson - the founder of the company we know today as Jamieson & Carry - is also told in the exhibition.

In the 20th century, Aberdeen's silver story was kept alive through the Jewellery and Silversmithing course at Gray's School of Art established by David Hodge, who also made a magnificent Mace for Robert Gordon's College, commissioned in memory of former headmaster Charles Stewart OBE MA. Today, many young designer -silversmiths, although trained at art school, are offered workshop experience by the likes of Malcolm Appleby, in the tradition of apprenticeships. Alongside modern techniques the contemporary silversmiths continue to use skills - raising, engraving, chasing - which would be entirely familiar to their 17th and 18th century predecessors.

Christine Rew, Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums manager and curator of the exhibition said: Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums has an international reputation for its outstanding collection of Aberdeen silver, a collection which has been built up over the past 40 years. An exhibition telling the story of Aberdeen's silver is long overdue and I am delighted that we have been able to achieve this, with the help of some magnificent loans from other public collections, private collectors and local churches. The exhibition is an unprecedented opportunity to see these treasures brought together for the first time. "

The exhibition is set to appeal to both experts and enthusiasts and is accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue, which has been supported by Aberdeen Asset Management.

It is also complemented by an exciting series of talks and events starting with A Day with Malcolm Appleby on Saturday 10 November, when the renowned silversmith will share his knowledge and expertise. Further details of all events are available at www.aagm.co.uk

SILVER The Aberdeen Story runs until Saturday 3 March 2013.