10th – 14th JULY

A selection of pieces from the Pearson Silver Collection will be displayed at the Goldsmiths’ Centre,
42 Britton Street, London EC1M 5AD (nearest Underground, Farringdon)

2pm 12th JULY, SILVER SEMINARS at the Goldsmiths’ Centre

John Andrew, Curator of the Pearson Silver Collection, will talk on The Renaissance of British Silver Post 1945 and will also give a presentation An Introduction to the Pearson Silver Collection.

George Styles, of Styles Silver will give a talk entitled, Contemporary Silver: Update the Family Silver.


We now talk about a Renaissance in British silver post World War II. There is no doubting that from the 1950s the UK has been a melting pot of creativity for silversmiths that today manifests itself in Britain being recognised as a world centre of excellence for designer-makers of silver objects.

Even in the early 1960s reference was made to the contemporary ‘bursting of design and craftsmanship in [British] silver’ that is comparable to the ‘great age’ – the 18th century*. What brought about this gigantic step change? Some say it is well documented. True, it possible by scouring through what sundry published works cover silver immediately after the hostilities to discover what happened.

Even before the War ended the Government recognised that the nation had to improve its design capabilities to achieve exports. Immediately after the War the newly established Council of Industrial Design announced a major exhibition would be held the following year called Britain Can Make It. Attracting over 1.4 million visitors, it was a visual feast, but also performed an educational role explaining the need for industrial design.

The Royal College of Art was seen as a suitable vehicle for helping to raise design standards. Robert Goodden was appointed Professor of the School of Silversmithing and Jewellery. From 1948-78 he saw a galaxy of talented silversmithing students pass through his hands, among the early ones being Eric Clements, David Mellor, Robert Welch and Gerald Benney who in additionto silversmithing, became industrial designers.

Meanwhile at the Goldsmiths’ Company Graham Hughes was busy promoting modern silver by securing the new talent commissions and staging exhibitions at home and abroad. However, during the 1950s all those young silversmiths were influenced to a greater or lesser degree by Scandinavian design. Something else must have happened to have triggered the Renaissance?

At 2pm on the afternoon of 12 July three talks on modern and contemporary silver will be held at the Goldsmiths’ Centre. The first will answer this question. We hope you will join us.

* The Director, October 1962 – A Handful of Silversmiths by Mary Noble