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Animus sculptural centerpiece

March 4, 2017

sentitemssentitemsAmidst the endless corridors of 18th and 19th century silver ware lies a small cabinet of ‘contemporary British silversmiths’ work, aimed at celebrating what is considered to now be a niche and specialist skill. The Animus is a 2015 one off piece, made through sterling silver forming. Kevin Gray, the creator of the work is somewhat of a black horse however, his creative process is that of a strange one it seems, as ‘he thinks through his work continuously, but makes no drawings beforehand.’ This way of working struck me most as an individual means of producing and lead me to wonder why this work was chosen to be shown by the curator, Corinne Julius.

As I looked into the work further I began to discover that the process of production was almost as nebular as the thought process behind the work itself, Gray uses the industry standard of TIG welding, as opposed to the traditional method of silver soldering it seems. It was unclear as to why at first, but it could be speculated that perhaps by using the most common and widely used method for mass production the artist is highlighting the quality of work that can be produced in great quantities, yet evidently is not amongst the almost slave labour like production lines of the modern day capitalist society we dwell within. This ‘fractured and tormented process’ is not without struggle however, as the Label for the work describes that the artist does in fact face much hardship and ‘complex technical issues’ whilst working in this way.

However, in contrast to the idea that Kevin Gray may be in fact subverting the norm of a capitalist society, it is not irrational to query the fact that this is a one-off ‘centre piece’, an object of furniture, a one-off possession only available to the rich and fortunate. Thus I must ask what is it that the V&A are trying to show through this collection of work. Evidently silver-smithing is without a doubt an incredibly niche and dying art form in the modern day society, yet what is that exhibiting this work does then, besides document the past and show the present. Where is the push towards the future of a delicate and beautiful art form? What is it that the curator is telling or highlighting to us about this work as we continually move forward into a evidently capitalist future?

To me this skilled and beautiful art form is one that has been over taken and outdone by the quantity and mass scale of industrial production, yet there was no reference to this within the exhibit, no point in which I considered what happens when this quality of work is inevitably run into the dust. All that is left is the rich, keeping their prized silverware in a padlocked, airtight cupboard and the museums boxing up a metric tonne of silver ware into some container of some warehouse never to be seen again.

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animus%2B2.png Animus sculptural centerpiece
Amidst the endless corridors of 18 th and 19 th century silver ware lies a small cabinet of ‘contemporary British silversmiths’ work, a…

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