British silversmith Kevin Grey recently caught my attention when I stumbled across his silver sculpture at Maison Gerard in New York City. Whenever I have the opportunity to do so, I try to incorporate silver sculpture into my projects. I love silver objects because besides just being beautiful, there is the whole play of reflection and the difference in textures in each piece that is something unique to silver as an art form. And while silver IS generally bling, more and more contemporary pieces have a matte patina that whisper subdued class and refinement.
Grey is relatively new to silver, having worked for over 20 years in the luxury automobile world of Bentley and Rolls Royce before switching gears and graduating from the Birmingham School of Jewelry in 2009. In a very short span of time he has become something of a superstar in the world of contemporary silver.
By 2014 he had already won his third Goldsmith’s Company Award for his excellence in design and construction. Inspired by 20th Century Scandinavian design – an aesthetic close to my own heart – his works use modern tools and techniques to infuse his silver sculpture with a fresh modern look. Grey continues to push the limits of this traditional craft and creates silver sculpture unlike anything I have ever seen.
Take the bowl shown above: it is amazing in so many ways. I love the jaggedness of the sides, which have a very industrial look, yet the interior of the bowl is smooth with a silky luster that showcases the highly refined and finished aspect of this silver sculpture. The construction of these pieces takes a lead from Japanese silver design that often uses a similar hollow walled construction that allows for none of the work done on the exterior walls of the vessel to show on the interior. The Japanese are known for their obsession with perfection, and this method of construction is incredibly difficult and time consuming, but results in a highly finished piece.
Buying a silver sculpture from a modern silversmith like Grey is to become patron to an artisan who is keeping alive this once thriving industry. Like with all contemporary artists, new works only see the light of day because people continue to see value in the pieces and support their creativity.
Richard Rabel is a New York Interior Designer and Principal at Richard Rabel: Interiors+ Art, a studio offering residential design, decorating and art advising.
image credits: silver sculpture: Photography David Withycombe for Kevin Grey, UK. The artist is represented in the USA by Maison Gerard, New York.