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Posted 16.03.16

Jewellery student Luke Axworthy awarded prestigious grant for silverwork

By Sarah Packer

BA (Hons) Jewellery student Luke Axworthy.

BA (Hons) Jewellery student Luke Axworthy has been selected as a recipient of The Goldsmiths’ Company Student Silver Bullion Grant for his latest project inspired by the local coastline.

Founded in 1994, the Student Silver Bullion Grant scheme encourages metalwork students to make up their designs in silver rather than in base metal. Recipients of the grant have benefitted from their work being shown at New Designers, representing their college, as well as winning prizes in the Goldsmiths’ Craft Council Awards.

We met up with Luke in our jewellery studio to find out more about his work and the inspiration behind it.

Hi Luke, congratulations on the grant, can you tell us about it?

Thanks and yes, The Goldsmiths’ Company Student Silver Bullion Grant is a pot of money that is available for art colleges all across the UK and lecturers can put forward a select amount of students they believe are capable of making things to that sort of standard.

Luke creates unique forms with beautiful striations, dips and colouring.

They put forward four students here and luckily I was one of them so I get a small grant, about £400, and two students were picked for that, myself and Sophie.

So the money given is spent on silver to make your proposed piece, it can’t be jewellery, it has to be a functional item. So that is where I went with these, the grant was ideal as I was already working on something that would have more of a functional purpose and I am really looking forward to making them in silver.

"This project in particular was inspired by Seaton beach, the colours, the rocky coastline and crashing waves, I wanted to capture that shape and that energy in my work." — Luke Axworthy

And what happens after you’ve made your pieces?

After I’ve made them they will go on display at TENT London 2016, which is part of London Design Week. They will also go into the Goldsmiths’ Craft Council Awards, so you have to kind of win one to get into the other and there’s a lot more kudos and bigger prizes and the kinds of things that go with being in that level of competition.

Luke was selected to receive the grant after the judges saw his project proposal.

What do you think makes your work interesting?

Well nobody has done this before as far as I can tell. Traditionally when you cast metals you would have a mold and you would pour your metal into the mold and then you would be done.

For mine I am taking liquid metal, pouring it into a mold and then taking a second part of the mold and pushing the two pieces together by hand so that the liquid metal runs and spreads completely randomly.

"...the 3D printed parts I have here...wouldn’t have been possible without the college's facilities." — Luke Axworthy

You get the same shape every time, but the texture and the colour changes, the striations and these pits are all random and unique in each form and the sort of gold colour is the result of variations in the temperature of the metal that is completely random in the process. It took a long time to get it perfect.

What inspired you to make these?

Everything always comes back to two things, either the local coastline and the sea, which I have always been around and is important to me, or it comes back to animals as I’ve always been surrounded by them.

This project in particular was inspired by Seaton beach, the colours, the rocky coastline and crashing waves, I wanted to capture that shape and that energy in my work.

How did the facilities here at the college help you with this work?

The college has amazing facilities, for example, the 3D printed parts I have here, which are prototypes for glass inners that will eventually sit in the silver vessels so that you can still use them as drinking cups, they literally wouldn’t have been possible without the college's facilities.

"...the grant was ideal as I was already working on something that would have more of a functional purpose." — Luke Axworthy

All across the country art college facilities are being cut and taken away and so this wouldn’t have been possible to do anywhere else. We have this brand new lovely building which I think is about £8 million they have spent on this for the students to use, it’s a lovely place to work.

So is this going to be a final major project for you now that you are in your third year?

Yes, they started quite small but have gradually got bigger so that when the glass vessels sit in the silver cast then it’s the right size for a drinking cup.

Luke has previously collaborated with Flameworks, handcrafting tools for use in the workshop.

I’m collaborating with Alex Derry who studies glassblowing here and is going to blow the glass vessels that will sit in my cast silver forms. Alfie Smith, who is a participant on the college's Made@EU residency programme is also experimenting with 3D printed glass vessels and I'm hoping that we can work together.

It’s really exciting watching them work and I’m looking forward to bringing all the elements together.

And what are your future plans when you leave here?

I’m in my third year now so I’m hoping to go straight on after this and study one of the Masters programmes here at the college.