Science is at the forefront of this exhibition which opens our minds to the chemical and physical processes applied to craft-making. ‘Alchemy’ explores the important role of chemistry in craft through an eye-catching display of jewellery, silverware, and ceramics. The exhibition reveals a host of traditional techniques with a modern twist and is accompanied by a selection of makers’ materials and tools. Come and see how everyday organic materials can be used as ceramic glazes, and how aluminium sheets are coloured. With each work demonstrating a balance between science, beauty and skill, ‘Alchemy’ is bound to inspire and inform the mind.
Confirmed Exhibitors: Adam Aaronson; Rebecca Callis; Avril Farley; Alice Gow; Sally Grant; James Hake; Loretta Harmer; Esther Lord; James Mayne; Jane Moore; Carolyn Noy; Alex Shimwell; Miranda Sharpe; Alison Swindles.
Featured Designer Makers: Renowned glass artist Adam Aaronson makes a welcome return to RBSA Craft Gallery with his range of glass pieces, made especially for ‘Alchemy’. Adam’s work is created by adding powdered glass colours and silver leaf to free-blown glass, these forms bring together his fascination with horizons and the changeability of light on landscape, sky, and water. For some time Adam’s glass pieces have been moving away from functional forms, reassessing our perceptions of a vase, cylinder or vessel. As a result, he has developed glass forms that act as a canvas for surface imagery.
James Hake makes a range of hand-thrown stoneware ceramics and slab-rolled work including square dishes. He takes inspiration from Oriental ceramics and has combined this with a palette of glazes developed by himself. These glazes range from subtle Shinos, to rich, dark Tenmokus and Copper Reds. James is currently using local materials for his glazes which are found near his studio in the Lake District. These include wood ashes, lime and gritstones from local quarries and even silt from the nearby estuary.
Birmingham-based jeweller, Miranda Sharpe is exhibiting her colourful collection of enamelled silver jewellery. Her latest collection is inspired by feathers and their connotations of decoration and display. Concerned with shape and form, Miranda simplifies and abstracts these visual elements in order to bring together shape and form. Using rolled and hand-formed silver sheet, vitreous enamels, resin and occasionally gold, she creates a distinctive collection of wearable jewellery.
Vibrant aluminium and silver jewellery from Alice Gow also features in ‘Alchemy’. Each piece of aluminium is textured and dyed by Alice, using anodised aluminium, giving her the ability to create a wide spectrum of colours. Alice’s new ‘Petaliform’ collection will be on show, inspired by Arts and Crafts flower motifs, Islamic geometric patterns and Spirograph™ drawings. This new collection uses chemical etching that adds to the structural qualities of the flower forms.
Rebecca Callis exhibits her elegant porcelain ceramics inspired by her love of the set table and the rituals associated with food and drink. Her ceramic forms are made with great consideration but she consciously leaves irregularities serving to remind the user of the artist’s hand. Rebecca uses HF Porcelain (a type of porcelain that was developed by Harry Fraser) and forms her pieces over a two-day period. Like many ceramicists, Rebecca’s glazes are developed through experiments and line blends using additions of stains and oxides, including titanium, zinc, cobalt and manganese dioxide.
Silversmith Esther Lord creates distinctive hand-crafted textured silverware that explores balance and structure. Relationships between her grouped forms aim to create dynamism and movement. Esther experiments with the different textures of unpolished and acid-etched silver, in contrast with reflections and shadows created by angular, folded surfaces and overlapping planes.
‘Alchemy’ is both inspiring and educational – why not come over and see what you can learn today? Contact Connie Wan on 0121 236 4353 or
Monday 11 April – Friday 17 June 2011. Free Admission
RBSA Craft Gallery, 4 Brook Street, St Pauls, Birmingham, B3 1SA
Gallery Open: Mon – Fri 10.30-5.30, Sat 10.30-5.00, Sun 1.00-5.00