The 2008 winner of the Young Designer Silversmith Award competition was Musa Butt, a student at Loughborough University School of Art & Design. Musa (22) becomes the 14th winner of this annual prestigious competition organised by the Goldsmiths’ Company, which focuses on young silversmithing students at university in Britain today.
The Young Designer Silversmith Award scheme was started by Rosemary Ransome Wallis, Curator of the Collections at Goldsmiths’ Hall in 1994 as an initiative to encourage students to show their artistic individuality in silver.
“The rationale behind the award was to encourage studio silver design”, explained Rosemary, “with the combination of a competition for excellence of design and an opportunity to perfect dexterity of craftsmanship being at the heart of the scheme.”
The finished piece is then presented to the appropriate major museum nearest the college for its collection of contemporary decorative arts, which in Musa’s case was the Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery.
The brief for this year’s competition, which is open to any student under 30 in the United Kingdom on a BA or Master’s degree course, was to design ‘a water jug inspired by water in a particular environment, for example this environment could be one which is industrial, rural, or part of the world with features water. The jug must reflect any chosen environment in its form, scale, function, and decoration. It should handle well, to be reflected in its making’. Musa’s design was inspired by waterfalls and fast flowing streams.
The judges this year were the Prime Warden Mr Grant Macdonald, himself a silversmith, Professor Richard Himsworth, Mr Martin Drury, both senior members of the Goldsmiths’ Company, together with artist silversmith Mr Rod Kelly and Miss Annamarie Stapleton, consultant to the Fine Art Society in London.
Rosemary Ransome Wallis said: “The judges were unanimous in choosing Musa’s jug. Musa is an overseas student from Kenya and has, since a child, carved beautiful wooden sculptures. His natural skill, through the Young Designer Silversmith Award, has been translated into a masterly silversmithing skill. His prize winning carved model for the water jug is now a lyrical hand-raised and hand-chased silver vessel resonating with Musa’s love of natural forms.”
Musa made the jug he designed in Clive Burr’s Clerkenwell workshop. Clive, together with Andrew Briggs helped Musa to master the skills of hand-raising and chasing, quite the reverse technique to carving so it was a steep learning curve; however Musa’s natural talent and dexterity helped him succeed.
On 7 October, the Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company presented the jug to Miss Pamela Wood, Keeper of Decorative Arts, Nottingham Museums for the permanent collection at Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery. In his speech the Prime Warden said: “The unique aspect of this award is that it provides the silversmithing student with the special experience of making a piece of silver in a leading workshop for a national museum collection. Musa was extremely fortunate to make his jug under the expert eye of Clive Burr.”
Musa was subsequently congratulated and presented with his winner’s certificate for the Young Designer Silversmith Award 2008 and a cheque for £500.
At the ceremony which took place in Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery itself were all the judges, as well as the The Lord Mayor of Nottingham and Nottingham City Council, and Musa’s parents who had flown over from Kenya to be present at the awards with other members of his family. Also in attendance were Clive Burr and his assistant Andrew Briggs.