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Hiroshi Suzuki - Silver Waves - Goldsmiths' Hall

Aqua-Poesy VII, 2008 – hammer-raised fine silver vessel. Height: 32cms. Diameter: 28.5cms.

Exhibition preview

HIROSHI Suzuki – Silver Waves, a major exhibition of silver vessels by
internationally acclaimed Japanese silversmith Hiroshi Suzuki, will be on display at Goldsmiths’ Hall from Monday, February 8 to Saturday, March 6, 2010.

The title of the exhibition Hiroshi Suzuki – Silver Waves makes direct reference to the many waves, creases, rivulets, ripples and curves in the silver that are so synonymous with Hiroshi’s work.

Japanese born Hiroshi studied metalwork at Musashino Art University in Tokyo and then, like many foreign students, he was attracted by the high level of metalwork courses on offer in the UK. In 1994, he moved to London to continue with his studies first at Camberwell College of Art and subsequently at the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1999.

Hiroshi specialises in hammering and chasing silver to produce large-scale decorative vessels which have been described as “a fluent expression of nature”. Using a hammer and considerable strength he coaxes and cajoles sheets of silver into shapes successfully creating an illusion that silver is as pliable as clay.

Unusually, instead of beating the metal over a cast iron stake, he often forms the silver in the air. Consequently his vessels have an effortless, organic quality which is both sensuous and full of vigour.

He says: “My work can be interpreted as the embodiment of an intuitive sense of organic abstraction, whilst alluding to functional tradition.”

Hiroshi never consciously plans a piece. He never makes models or does preparatory drawings as he feels this process to be inhibiting and restrictive. “I have developed an intuitive relationship – it is the core of my creative process and allows me to approach my work in a highly spontaneous way while at the same time maintaining sensitivity with the material.”

In the ten years since graduating, Hiroshi has taken the silversmithing world by storm and his rise to prominence has been as remarkable as his extraordinary hand-raised silver vessels. It is not just the superlative skill of his craftsmanship but the monumental size of the majority of his pieces that makes his work so unique.

Avidly collected, he now has works in 27 major public collections across the globe including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the Museum of Arts and Design, New York and the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide – a testimony to the high esteem in which his work is considered.

Rosemary Ransome Wallis, Curator Collections at Goldsmiths’ Hall, first encountered Hiroshi in 1999 following his degree show. She said:

“I was immediately struck by the dynamic presence of his work. His subsequent success and considerable contribution to contemporary silver is that ultimately it is Hiroshi’s poetry which defines his work. Working within the Japanese tradition of the spirituality of natural elements such as wind, fire and water, Hiroshi makes these abstractions accessible to Western eyes through his sculptural approach to his vessels.”

The range of Hiroshi’s work included in the exhibition at Goldsmiths’ Hall gives clear visual evidence of his development as a silversmith. In his early student pieces there are subtle hints of the shape of things to come – the odd ripple and wave here and there – while more recent works show how Hiroshi has now mastered the subtleties of exploring fluidity within a form and on a surface to create vessels of great beauty and timelessness.

All Hiroshi’s pieces have names which give an indication of their inspiration – for example “qua-Poesy VII, and Ayawind II, both from the Goldsmiths’ Company’s collection, as well as M-Fire IV and Earth II that complete the elemental theme.

The majority of the works on exhibition are in silver, with a few early pieces in copper and other metals. However, one of the main show-stoppers is a recent piece Aqua-Poesy XI Kin hammer-raised and chased in 22 carat gold.

The pieces have all been kindly loaned by institutions, including the Goldsmiths’ Company and private collectors, and several new works, made especially for the exhibition, will be unveiled for the first time at Goldsmiths’ Hall.

Hiroshi was recently appointed as a successor to his former professor at Musashino Art University in Tokyo – a huge honour – and now divides his time between Japan and his workshop in London.

A short documentary on his work and featuring an interview with Hiroshi, made by filmmakers Michael Howard and James Birkett, will be shown throughout the exhibition.

An associated book on Hiroshi Suzuki published by Scala will be on sale during the exhibition at a special price of £10. The book will be in paper back with 80 pages and colour illustrations.

Hiroshi Suzuki will give an illustrated talk about his work and life at Goldsmiths’ Hall on Tuesday, February 16 from 6pm to 7pm. He will also be signing copies of the associated book. Admission to the talk is free but must be booked.

Visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity of entering a prize draw to win a piece by Hiroshi Suzuki.

Hiroshi Suzuki – Silver Waves Gallery

Admission: Free.

Times: Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm.

Goldsmiths’ Hall, Foster Lane, London, EC2V 6BN