One of the questions I’m most frequently asked by visitors to exhibitions at The Byre is how do I come up with ideas for the settings I use. Am I inspired by a particular piece of craft, or do ideas just come to me? In the case of Telling Tales, it was a mixture of both. After a previous exhibition – A Bed of Roses – a friend commented that she’d been a bit disappointed that it hadn’t had the fantasy element of my previous shows. This started a train of thought about fantastical settings which lead me to Tales of the Arabian Nights; that idea then conjured up images of rich jewel colours and precious metals, in particular Abigail Brown’s sumptuous silver. I’d met Abigail a few years ago and fell in love with the sinuous shapes she creates in her silver vessels – and so her work suggested a starting point for the setting of Telling Tales.
Abigail creates her silver pieces using traditional methods: she specialises in hand raised vessels, bowls and objects using a hammer forming technique working with a variety of metal and wooden hammers and stakes. The spontaneous nature of the work means that each piece is unique and sculptural.
Current research themes for Abigail’s work include the human form, nature and archaeology. She says, “my particular interest is in the lines, folds and forms of the human body and how these are continually changing. I design pieces that signify the warmth and softness of flesh in a material that is by nature hard and cold, creating a piece of silverware that is tactile, sensual and invites interaction.”
Of her work in Telling Tales, her two Fallen Leaf bowls most embody this – they almost demand to be bit picked up and touched! But the same sensuous quality is present in Abigail’s stunning salt dish and spoon, and her elegant napkin rings. This wonderful silver work is an excellent examples of the very best in contemporary craft: unique handcrafted pieces which add style and elegance to any setting and yet which will endure to be the heirlooms of tomorrow.