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RAE 2008

Rearch Assessment Exercise 2008

Simone ten Hompel

My research interests include:
The language of metal and other materials; the relationship between function and usefulness or uselessness; form as a metaphor for communication and storytelling; discovery - the slowness of the encounter with pieces of work and slowness in the process of making; the process of imbuing a piece of work with spirit; rituals, ceremonies and contemplation.

Research Outcomes

Outcome 1 - urban FIELD
The series of exhibitions and events which make up urban FIELD explore the relationship between the urban and rural divide for makers and their work. The exhibitions deliberately upset the norm: willow artists showed their work in the thoroughly metropolitan surroundings of Contemporary Applied Arts; a mix of London-based and South West makers presented glass, metalwork and textiles in the Crafts Study Centre’s first group show; The Devon Guild brought sophisticated urban interior design to the fringe of Dartmoor.
The pieces I exhibited for urban FIELD, like much of my work, explored the process of negotiation between head, hands and metal, necessary to arrive at the final piece. The rural setting emphasised my concerns with the materiality of silver - its specific qualities as a medium, such as reflectivity and malleability, rather than its connotations as a precious metal within an urban marketplace.


Outcome 2 - Jerwood Applied Arts Prize - Metal
The Jerwood exhibition provided an opportunity for mapping out who I am as a practitioner in opposition to seven other selected makers. The key factors that I identified in this mapping were something I am known for, something that expands on what I am known for and something new.
The newness explored a status of being, a feeling, an empathy expressed through the object as a metal piece. The work explores the juxtaposition of the object in space, and its juxtaposition against a perceived way of reading, or a position as in silversmithing or metalwork. Function versus non-function - purposeful or purposeless.


Outcome 3 - A Field of Silver, Silver in a Field
A Field of Silver, Silver in a Field was a three-day project initiated by myself and Andreas Fabian in September 2001. Ten silversmiths were invited to make works in silver without their usual tools in a field in South Oxfordshire.
The work raised questions around the thinking, knowledge and methodologies of 21st Century crafts practice by displacing the participants from their usual workshop environment, and forced them to think about who they are, and how they operate as makers, when they are unable to rely on their normal sets of tools.
By asking the participants to engage directly with the landscape, the project formed contextual links with the land-art movement and sought to discover whether silversmithing could, like fine art, free itself from the need to produce a barter/exchange object.


Outcome 4 - Sweetness
This exhibition deals with the perception of "sweetness" expressed through metal. By "sweetness" I don't mean sugar content, but something more akin to "deliciousness" or "scrumptiousness". How can something such as metal, that is realistically or substantially perceived as cold, give the information of sweetness?
In the exhibition, "sweet" elements such as a silver spiral, or a blue semi-precious stone are placed in the context of a silver or a steel bowl. The form of the spiral and the form of the stone invite people to speculate about what they themselves might want to put in the bowl. These are not dishes suited to hold something ordinary, like potatoes - they are designed as if to hold something "sweet" and special - pralines, perhaps, or chocolates. The viewer is lead on to consider the "flavour" of the contained elements, the silver spiral or the semi-precious stone: sweetness.
The work creates a juxtaposition of opposites - the physical coldness and hardness of the metal against ideas of soft, melt-in-the-mouth sweetness.


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