Friday, 18 February 2011

Article - pAn Amsterdam

I have recently been reprosented in an article by Maja Houtman about the contemporaty silver that was shown at this years pAn Amsterdam. She also talks about the other Dutch silversmiths that were showing alongside De Zilvergalerie de Watertoren - 3 other galleries (Studio 925, Galerie Lieve Hemel and John Endlich) Many of these reprosented work from the makers that I worked with last year, whilst in Schoonhoven.

The article can be found here -

The contemporary silver section at pAn (Pictura Antiquairs Nationaal) Art Fair in Amsterdam has grown considerably since 1994 when silversmith Jan van Nouhuys was asked to show his work. Because of his success at pAn, Jan has invited other silversmiths to show their work in his stand and, over the years, visitors have become aware that living silversmiths create beautiful, useful, and collectible silverware. This year, in four stands, a total of 19 silversmiths showed their work and now even leading antique dealers combine contemporary silver designs with 17th and 18th century silver.

Jan van Nouhuys -Knot 2010

Naturally, Jan van Nouhuys was back this year. His gallery, Studio 925, opened in 2004 in a specially designed building in Schoonhoven. Jan started working in The Hague (Den Haag) in 1976. He had a successful workshop for repairs and newly-made silverwork. In the 1980s, during the recession, he accepted a job teaching silversmithing at Vakschool, Schoonhoven (the only school for gold and silversmithing in the Netherlands). While there, he realized that the art of silversmithing was vanishing and, in order to stimulate young silversmiths to continue working in their trade, he and his wife, Anneke, started a project called "Silver in Motion" (Zilver in Beweging). The 19th century Watertower in Schoonhoven, where there are now workshops for three silversmiths as well as a gallery, became the home of this project.

Young Dutch silversmiths also went to India where they taught local silversmiths how to set up professional workshops to produce silver designs. Contests and exhibitions followed. Silver in Motion's continuing aim is to "stimulate interest in contemporary silver to a larger audience and to promote this unique art to the national and international art institutes.”
Silversmiths can come to Schoonhoven to take master classes and benefit from the expertise of the many silversmiths and goldsmiths and the proximity of small factories and gold and silver businesses there.

Jan van Nouhuys has continued along the path upon which he started a year ago--he creates objects in which he combines silver and wood. In past centuries, silversmiths used these two materials in both silver coffee pots and teapots. Remarkable, in this case, is the fact that, in his sculptural objects, Van Nouhuys gives the two materials an equal and harmonious role. Van Nouhuys is always eagerly seeking the unknown and his technical mastery allows him to realize seemingly impossible three-dimensional constructions and forms.

This year, Antwerp metalsmith, Helena Schepens was invited to present her work at pAn. She has a variety of skills working with wood, steel, and silver. She exhibited her “hole bowls” and her steel pieces that decorated the walls. In all her work, she is inspired by nature: she reveals plants, plant structures, and animals (such as sand dollars) by making holes, by drilling, sawing, filing, or using a laser

Jeweler, Pauline Barendse took a new direction when, in 2007 and 2008, her work was part of two exhibitions organized by Studio 925. She began to handle silver in an original and extraordinary manner using electro-forming (galvanizing). In viewing the results, is it possible that Barendse is an ardent speleologist? To me, one of her pieces at first looks likes a chalice, but is actually a candlestick and a cup.

A few colorful pieces by David Kerkhof, a wonderful dish by Arjen Lucas, and a vase from the famous silversmith, Hiroshi Suzuki, completed this presentation.

De Watertoren, (Watertower) Schoonhoven

The 50 metre high Watertower of Schoonhoven, used untill 1990, was designed by architect F.A. de Jong. The pinnacle on the tower is of special interest. It hides a pipe 60 cm wide and 12 meters higher than the actual water basin. It was made to enable the extinguishing of fire in the church tower in Schoonhoven which is of equal height. It was restored in 1995 and is now a Dutch and European monument. Since 1996 it has housed a silver gallery from which contemporary silver is presented at pAn every year. Three silversmiths have their workshops there. They have apprentices, attend Silver in Motion, and organize contests and exhibitions.

Titiaan de Geer has worked in the Watertower in Schoonhoven since 1992. He began his career as a clock restorer, but, after six years, began studying gold and silversmithing and became a restorer of antique silver. After moving his workshop to Schoonhoven, he started to design and create his pieces. His designs are detailed but playful, from teaspoons and tulip vases to sturdy coffee sets on trays.

Paul de Vries worked for several years as a goldsmith, designer, and jewelry restorer. After a few years of additional studies in product design and interior decorating, he started his own workshop. He was one of the silversmiths who taught in New Delhi. After that experience he set up a studio where, as well as his own designs, he carried pieces from other artists including those by Borek Sipek. In 1996, he moved into the Watertower where he created most of his large, modern hollowware. Paul likes to make big pieces such as a champagne cooler for four bottles, but also makes clusters of jugs that "sing" or "dance" together.

André van Loon is the youngest silversmith in the tower. He finished his education in silver and goldsmithing in 2003. Since then he has made himself (and his work) visible at all kind of art fairs and won several prizes. In 2006, he opened his own shop in Utrecht. Because of his ability to repair and set stones into jewelry, restore antique hollowware, carry out complicated assignments, and design his own silverware, he soon secured a solid position in his trade. In 2009, he and his wife Jorinda (also a goldsmith) moved into the Watertower. While always staying true to the fine craft of silversmithing, he tries to surprise. This year he made a couple candlesticks, crunched bowls and a floating silver object--a heavy piece held up by magnets.

In the Watertower stand were the results of "Silver in Motion"--work to admire and purchase by students Elizabeth Auriol Peers (soft but strong forms, inspired by the structure of burned skin), Sangwoo Kim (melting forms) and Arjan Vrielink (willowy and beautifully polished forms).

Galerie Lieve Hemel, Amsterdam

This gallery opened its doors in 1968, in a cellar in Amsterdam. The ceiling at the end of the stairs was low, so the name of the gallery used to be: “Lieve Hemel, stoot je hoofd niet” (Good Heavens, don’t bump your head). The owner, Koen Nieuwendijk, allways had a preference for realistic art. Throughout the years he carried paintings, drawings, prints, ceramics and bronzes. At that time, he was one of the first Dutch gallery owners brave enough to sell contemporary silver. After the roaring sixties and the popularity of stainless steel cutlery, people were no longer in the mood for silver tableware--“you keep on cleaning it”, was the argument. When, in the nineties, Silver in Motion kicked off, Lieve Hemel took the challenge and now it presents the work of four silversmiths and one designer.

Since 1975, At Brandenburg has combined gold and silversmithing with teaching at the Vakschool in Schoonhoven. In 1990, he and his wife Marijke Bakker opened a shop in Schoonhoven. In 2008 they moved to bigger premises to have more room to offer workshops in which participants can make their own wedding rings, learn how to make filigree jewelry, or take a summer course in mounting stones. Apart from that, At restores gold and silverware. His designs in silver are different than any other contemporary silver designs--often combined with other materials such as wood, slate, lead and iron, they are like nothing you have ever seen before.

Jef Huibers is painter, but while living in Schoonhoven in the 1990s and teaching art and art history at the Vakschool, he began designing silver pieces. His designs often take us back to ancient times. Combining painted wooden handles or accents with silverware, he designed (over the years) numerous carriages, bowls and drinking cups. The actual work is done by several silversmiths: Jan van Nouhuys, Bert Kreijen, Kees Oele, and André van Loon. Due to the combination of disciplines, this work is certainly different. The design is made first and then the silversmith finds the best way to carry it out in silver. New problems come with new solutions.

George Cluyvers lives and works in Belgium. Since 1977 he has worked as a gold and silversmith and is also an internationally-known jewelry designer. In 1986, he started teaching at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and, in 1995, he was one of the founders of “EUSILVA”, the Belgium society to promote contemporary silverware. Since then he has taken part in several European enterprises to promote our trade. His silverware is always big, consisting of vases, bowls, and candlesticks with a very soft, fine, hammered finish.

Paul Pallandt specialized in restoring ecclesiastical silver, but over the last 15 years he has been creating his own work. Among other silversmiths, he is sometimes is called "the impressionist"--he dares to chose the beauty of rough finishing--rough on the edge of unfinished. Combining the silver with iron and wood intensifies this feeling.

Jurriën Schiff specializes in restoring antique jewelry. Together with a joiner he takes care that 17th and 18th century wooden teaboxes (and the teacaddies) are correctly restored. He also makes jewelry and silverware. A favorite form is the tea caddie, cylinder shaped, sometimes tapered and often combined with precious stones. It seems that the cylinder is his best loved shape: all his candlesticks, jugs and goblets have the same basic shape and they are all elegant.

John Endlich, Haarlem

John Endlich is an antique dealer in Haarlem. His specialty is Dutch silver from the 17th and 18th centuries. His son Dick joined the company in 2002. They exhibit at pAn, Amsterdam and TEFAF in Maastricht. The contemporary silver they show is made by the silversmiths who restore their antique silver.

Wouter van Baalen was educated in Schoonhoven. He began working as a gold and silversmith and also studied Art History. He made many business-type gifts, creating designs in metal or wax before they were cast in silver. He became a specialist in casting. Many of his designs fit together. Two, three or four candlesticks become one when you push them together. Two chalices become one piece of art. His "B stack“ (Folded cutlery) won a prize and was put into production for household use. At the silver jubilee of Queen Beatrix in 2005, she chose his “Dancing Tulips” candlesticks as a national gift.
Wouter van BaalenDancing Tulips 2005

Daan Brouwer studied metal conservation and restoration (a fairly new program) at The Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage in Amsterdam. Along with his restoration work, he manages to create beautiful collections of incredibly smooth silver objects--flowing forms caught between taut lines that are polished into the smallest corners. They include miniature candlesticks and big, laborious dishes. His jewelry has the same contradictions--some very geometric, some fluid. He makes small sculptures to preserve and show his jewelry that's placed underneath a glass dome.

I think you can imagine I enjoyed my visit at pAn, I went twice!

Review by Maja Houtman