«THE WINSTON CHURCHILL MEMORIAL TRUST OF AUSTRALIA Report by - OLIVER SMITH - 2010 Churchill Fellow To Study Cutlery Manufacturing and Research New ...»
THE WINSTON CHURCHILL MEMORIAL TRUST OF AUSTRALIA
Report by - OLIVER SMITH - 2010 Churchill Fellow
To Study Cutlery Manufacturing and Research New Opportunities for Craft to
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Signed Oliver Smith Dated 8/4/2011 1 Index Introduction 3 Executive Summary 4 Program 5 Main Body 6 Conclusions 26 Recommendations 28 2 Introduction I am a silversmith and designer. My work is focused on the table and I have a particular interest in cutlery stemming from my favourite technical process hot forging. Since gaining my Masters in 2004 I have undertaken a series of projects in which I combined my craft skills with an industrial process to create small batch or limited edition production work.
Developing from this experience came a desire to learn more about mass manufacture.
This motivation led me to apply for a Churchill Fellowship to research the design and manufacture of cutlery in the UK, Scandinavia and South Korea.
It has been an honour to undertake this project with the support of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and I would like to express my gratitude to the Trust for this wonderful opportunity. In addition I would like to thank my two referees Dr Grace Cochrane and Brian Parkes for providing detailed statements recommending my project that also functioned for me as motivating manifestos. I would like to thank the many individuals and organisations that have supported and engaged with my research throughout the planning stage as well as during the Fellowship itself. I have endeavoured to make a thorough record of these interactions in my Report but would like to add that the spirit of generosity and openness of all involved made this project possible, and I appreciate this greatly. Also I would like toacknowledge the support of my family, in particular my wife Jane and son Ernie who accompanied me on part of the study tour.
I feel strongly that my ability to make a significant contribution to my field has benefitted immensely by this experience. My challenge is now to bring this new knowledge to bear on my own work as a craftsperson and designer, to use it to inform my teaching at Sydney College of the Arts, and to disseminate it to my broader professional network. My ultimate goal in all of these areas is for Australian creativity to achieve an increased presence in global culture.
Oliver Smith PO Box 335 Rozelle NSW 2039 Australia Silversmith / Designer / Lecturer: Jewellery & Object Studio, Sydney College of the Arts Mobile: 0422684082 Project Description Silversmith Oliver Smith’s Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship saw him research the design and manufacture of cutlery in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia and South Korea.
Highlights Oliver met with the Robert Welch design team in the Cotswolds, travelled north of Sheffield to the David Mellor factory in the Peak District and visited numerous design companies, craftspeople, museums and galleries in the London area. This included a tour of Goldsmiths’ Hall and discussion of the future vision of this organisation, a behind the scenes look at the Victoria & Albert Museum thanks to curator of metalwork Eric Turner and a meeting with Meta the contemporary branch of Mallett Antiques.
Copenhagen was then the base from which to visit the Eva Solo Company headquarters and develop contacts within other design companies such as Stelton, Normann, Scanpan, Menu, and Georg Jensen, as well as touring the design related sights including the Danish Design Center, the Danish Museum of Craft and Design and silversmithing focused Gallery Montan. Other appointments included individual silversmithing workshops, the National Museum of Denmark and further cultural institutions such as the Roskilde Viking Ship Museum and Louisiana Contemporary Art Center. A visit to Helsinki included appointments with representatives of the Fiskars Group of companies, a tour of the Arabia and Iittala ceramics factory, a visit to the Aalto University School of Art and Design and the Finnish Design Museum.
Contacts in South Korea developed with the assistance of Tomkin Australia provided insights into the development of cutlery manufacturing in Korea (and more recently in China, Vietnam and Indonesia) and gave valuable information regarding future trends in the industry. Traditional Korean silver spoon and chopstick manufacturing was seen at the Daeyoung Workshop and linked to further research into craft related connections. Many of these relationships were established through the academic network of the University of Sydney and have the potential to open fresh opportunities for cultural exchange in the area of metalsmithing.
Implementation and Dissemination Returning home feeling inspired, the study tour has been extremely successful and has clarified Oliver’s future vision. Growing from a desire to reinvent his approach in response to a true sense of the global landscape in his area of research, he now looks forward to applying his increased knowledge in the creation of new cutlery designs for production, and also to inform his craft practice. In addition he anticipates sharing his expanded network and the lessons learnt during his Churchill Fellowship with students through his teaching at Sydney College of the Arts and his colleagues in the areas of craft, art and design via dialogue with his broader professional network. Underpinning all of these activities is a motivation to increase Australia’s global design presence, to foster a rich and supportive cultural network, and to embrace current models of design and manufacturing as the first step in creating new approaches.
United Kingdom December 10 – 31 Jonathan Olliffe: silversmith / Goldsmiths’ Hall / Howard Fenn: silversmith / Robert Welch / David Mellor / Millennium Gallery / Victoria & Albert Museum – Eric Turner: metalwork curator / Meta – Eleonore Halluitte: production manager / London Design Museum / The British Museum Scandinavia January 1 – 15 Eva Solo / Danish Museum of Art & Design / Danish Design Center / National Gallery / Aarken Museum of Modern Art / Louisiana Museum of Modern Art / Gallery Montan / Fiskars Group / Aalto University School of Art and Design / Finnish Design Museum / Roskilde Viking Ship Museum / Danish National Museum South Korea January 16 – 31 Y.K. Services – Yon Kuen Kim: managing director / Hyun-Soek Sim: silversmith / SookMyung Women’s University / Hongik University / Seoul National University / Daeyoung Workshop / Dadaepo Artfactory / National Museum of Korea / Seoul National Folk Museum
Prior to reporting on the study tour itself I would like to include a record of the process of application and planning, as in hindsight I see that these stages of the Churchill Fellowship have been extremely important. In this vein I see the period I am currently in, following my research, as the most important as now I can bring my new understanding to bear on my own work and more broadly through my professional network.
I heard about the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust through two sources. I teach at Sydney College of the Arts in the Jewellery & Object Studio and had received information about opportunities for research support from the Research Office of the University of Sydney. At the same time my wife told me about a colleague who had successfully completed a Churchill Fellowship in the field of secondary education. Looking at the steps involved in the application process and becoming familiar with the aims of the organisation, became for me the framework through which to build the concept of the study tour. The UK was a key starting point with examples of significant silversmiths who had developed successful manufacturing businesses based on cutlery. Scandinavia boasted a long list of key design companies and a rich metalworking history. South Korea was selected as the gateway to manufacturing in Asia.
My experience of completing the application form for the Churchill Fellowship, and the application interviews themselves, were extremely beneficial as it was an active process of developing my project proposal. The documentation is very clear, requires very specific information, and is succinct. In defining my answers I naturally refined what I was seeking to
interviews also assisted in developing my vision of my proposed Churchill Fellowship through the feedback given and the opportunity to vocalise my plan. I would like to commend the Churchill Trust in developing the application process to this high standard.
I was also greatly encouraged by the statements submitted by my referees: Dr Grace Cochrane, independent curator and writer; former senior curator, Powerhouse Museum Sydney and Brian Parkes, Managing Director of Jamfactory, the Contemporary Craft & Design Centre in Adelaide. I would like to express my gratitude to them for acting as my referees and add that their words of support have inspired me to strive to make an even greater contribution to my field as well a clarifying some of the key principles existing in my craft and design practice.
In the process of researching where I proposed to travel I began mapping the organisations I wanted to learn more about. This meant I made contact with many people very quickly following the exciting news that I had been awarded a Churchill Fellowship. A certain amount of flexibility was necessary at this point in the process as many factors influence which companies and individuals respond enthusiastically to an initial approach. I should note here that even the companies that were less open to commit to a face-to-face meeting gave valuable feedback on my ideas outlined in my emails and honest appraisals of the portfolio I had forwarded. Over a period of months the itinerary took shape and about 4 weeks prior to departure I had a solid list of confirmed appointments for each destination, a series of contacts pending final confirmation and some leads to be explored if time permitted. I, like many Churchill Fellows, was drawn towards planning as many
but it seemed imperative to make the most of this opportunity.
In the United Kingdom I met with silversmith Jonathan Olliffe. Jonathan had travelled to Australia in 2008 following the completion of his Masters at the University of Central England in Birmingham. Whilst working as an artist in residence in the Jewellery and Object Studio at Sydney College of the Arts Jonathan began a dialogue with many Australian craftspeople. His perspective regarding the factors characterising Australian metalsmithing helped confirm my views about what makes work from our country distinctive. Among these qualities I recognise a broader material vocabulary, a more open interpretation of tradition, direct connections to the field of design and industrial manufacturing processes (including digital technologies) and a willingness to work beyond conventional boundaries and definitions. I’m pleased to note that Jonathan had embraced aspects of this approach engaging in work outside of precious metals, in particular pewter, and successfully designing a 50 pence coin minted to commemorate the Olympics to be held in London in 2012. This expansion of what a silversmith traditionally engages in was something I recognised in the work of other contemporary craftspeople in the UK. This is simply a more open use of hand skills and material knowledge across a broader range of projects. I predict that this flexible craft based thinking will come to replace the stricter, media specific definitions and modes of practise that it has evolved from.
My own personal experience of a reduction in the number of commissions for unique objects following the Global Financial Crisis has in my view been paralleled by the situation in the UK, where broadly speaking the effects of the GFC were more pronounced that in
demonstrates the adaptability of hand skills. Often this results in new, unexpected creative opportunities and collaborations. During my time in London I enjoyed catching up with silversmith Howard Fenn, for whom I had worked as a trainee in 1999. Howard had recently developed an exciting working relationship with an architecture and design company and was engaged in the design and production of large-scale site-specific clocks and kinetic wall sculptures that utilised equally his hand skills in working metal with his ability to problem solve through materials and process.
In London I visited Goldsmiths’ Hall, the organisation responsible for Hallmarking precious metal objects created in the UK. The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths’ evolved out of the Medieval Guild system and continues to act as the guardian and custodian of the craft.
Through my correspondence in planning my Churchill Fellowship I have established a dialogue with their technical department to learn more about innovations in silver micro alloys. My agenda here is to develop silver cutlery that is suitable for everyday use in both domestic and commercial settings, and in particular this means standing up to the demands of dishwashers. This is an area I plan to continue developing in the future. Whilst at Goldsmiths’ Hall itself I met with Paul Dyson, the man responsible for Exhibitions & Promotions, who outlined plans for a new educational institution to be managed as a branch of the Goldsmiths’ Company. This has been motivated by a desire to set new standards of excellence in the teaching of hand making skills necessary to both the health and survival of the craft.