This prestigious competition organised by the Goldsmiths’ Company, focuses on young silversmithing students at university in Britain today, and is open to any student under 30 on a BA or Master’s degree course. The Award scheme was started in 1994 as an initiative to encourage students to show their artistic individuality in silver and to give them the opportunity to perfect dexterity of craftsmanship under the guidance of a master silversmith.
The design brief changes from year to year. On this occasion the students were asked to submit designs for a drinking set for a particular alcoholic spirit. The brief specified that the set should comprise at least four drinking vessels, as well as another vessel relevant to the drink (possibly something for water, ice, lemon, salt, etc.) plus a tray for the set to sit on. There also had to be a coherent theme running through all of the pieces and the design had to emphasise the enjoyment of the chosen spirit.
Kyosun (22), who originally comes from South Korea, chose to design a saké set. The set is made up of a carafe with four accompanying cups all of which fit snugly into each other. The vessels then sit on a tray made from bamboo and wenge (African hardwood). Kyosun based her design around the shapes and patterns found in bamboo plants and developed the idea through drawings and prototypes. Although still in model format the judges were extremely impressed with the design concept and unanimous in their decision that Kyosun should be the winner of the 2013 Goldsmiths’ Company Young Designer Silversmith Award.
Clive Burr was the master-silversmith who took Kyosun under his wing in his workshop at the Goldsmiths’ Centre in Clerkenwell. With Clive’s experienced guidance, Kyosun was able to translate her sophisticated design into silver.
Kyosun explained, “One of the main technical challenges was that all the ribs on the design had to be individually soldered on, together with the soldering of the separate layers to create the shape. To give an idea, there were 71 separate wires in the saké bottle alone, so that was quite a challenge.” Aside from the soldering other techniques used were spinning, complex fabrication, and engraving. The result is breath-taking and technically brilliant.
Clive Burr said; “Kyosun is an impressive young silversmith. She has the rare and important ability to adapt quickly to the new skills and techniques which were needed to produce her very technically challenging designs. Her creative enthusiasm is wonderfully refreshing and we are both thrilled with the result”.
The Victoria & Albert Museum in London was the venue for the culmination of this year’s Young Designer Silversmith Award. At a reception attended by the Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company, Richard Agutter, together with Rosemary Ransome Wallis Curator of the Collections at Goldsmiths’ Hall, Kyosun’s silver sake set was presented to Martin Roth, Director of the V&A Museum for the museum’s permanent collection, the V & A being the most appropriate major museum nearest to the University for the Creative Art at Rochester where Kyosun is a student.
Witnessing the presentation of Kyosun’s Saké set were some of the judges of the competition, as well as Brian Hill, past Course Leader at the University for the Creative Arts at Rochester. The Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company handed Kyosun her winner’s certificate and a cheque for £500 and declared himself to be “blown away by the beauty and craftsmanship of her work.”
Kysoun responded that she was thrilled to have had the opportunity to work in a professional workshop and was very grateful to the Goldsmiths’ Company. Winning the award has enabled her to add to her skills and experience and she acknowledged the huge support that she had been given by Clive and his team.
Once she graduates, Kyosun plans to do a post-graduate course at the Goldsmiths’ Centre and hopes to continue to work as a professional silversmith in the UK.