14 October 2017 - 21 January 2018

A stunning display of contemporary commissioned silverware, including a whisky jug inspired by the late musician Joe Cocker OBE, goes on show at The Bowes Museum this autumn - the first time the objects will be seen in the North East of England.

The exquisite pieces were created by second year jewellery and metalwork students of Sheffield Hallam University from 2004 to the present day, with the support of a bursary from NADFAS* (National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies) North East Area.

Each young silversmith was assigned a specific well known person from past or present by tutor Chris Knight, their brief to create a pouring or drinking vessel reflecting the ‘Chosen’ client’s interest, lifestyle and/or achievements using their own designs and materials.

The design proposals were assessed and ‘Chosen’ by the Millennium Galleries Decorative Arts Curator, Clare Starkie, and Mr Knight, who selected one – or in some years, two – winning proposals. The winners then received an award cheque from NADFAS to cover further research and the cost of raw materials, with the winner’s finished piece donated to Museums Sheffield and the Millennium Galleries to become part of the Designated Metalwork Collection. More recently the bursary has been supported by Sheffield & Hallamshire DFAS (Decorative and Fine Arts Society).

The latest winner, Rob Anderson, who will give workshops during the show’s run at The Bowes Museum, designed a sterling silver whisky jug for his ‘Chosen client’, Sheffield born musician Joe Cocker.

Explaining that the vessel sits in the palm comfortably, Anderson - who went on to win the 2016 Business Design Centre New Designer of the Year Award - said it was made to be ‘touched, dropped and scarred’.

“Joe lived a full life and I want this vessel to be far less precious than most other silverware, so that it has stories to tell,” he said. “Initially it was going to be a cup, but Joe’s lifelong generosity needed incorporating somehow, so it became a vessel for sharing.

“It has a domed base so that it rocks around the way Joe did during his live performances,” he added. “It’s also made from mild steel as a nod to Sheffield. It acts as a heat sink, keeping the whisky cool for longer, which I’m sure Joe would have appreciated.”

Howard Coutts, Curator of Ceramics at The Bowes Museum, said: “We’re delighted to show this in-focus display of the work of young silversmiths in the Museum’s historic galleries. The contrast between old and new in our galleries always works well for everyone! We hope visitors may be encouraged to commission further work from these talented crafts-people.”

Jenny Cotton, NADFAS Young Arts representative North East, said: “NADFAS members, and especially the many Young Arts volunteers, aim to share with youngsters their interest in and active support of the visual arts with their awareness of our shared arts heritage and conservation through widespread participation in creative arts activities. This NADFAS Young Silversmiths’ Chosen Collection Bursary is just one of tens of Young Arts projects sponsored every year in the North East and the hundreds around the UK.”

The display will be on show at The Bowes Museum from 14 October 2017 until 21 January 2018.

For further information or images contact 

Notes to editors:

·         The Bowes Museum was created over 100 years ago by an extraordinary couple, John and Joséphine Bowes.  Together they built up the greatest private collection of fine and decorative arts in the North of England and constructed a magnificent building to house them in.  The collection contains thousands of objects including furniture, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and many other items covering an extensive range of European styles and periods. 

·         The Bowes Museum receives a core funding grant from Durham County Council and as a Major Portfolio Museum receives support from Arts Council England.

·         The Bowes Museum has undergone major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, One NorthEast through the County Durham Economic Partnership, English Heritage, Northern Rock Foundation, The Monument Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, The European Regional Development Fund, DCMS/Wolfson Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund, Designation Challenge Fund, The Shears Foundation, The Richard and Suzanna Tonks Family Fund at County Durham Foundation, Durham County Council, The Friends of The Bowes Museum, The Headley Trust, Sir James Knott Trust, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Fenwick Ltd, Mercers Charitable Foundation, Welton Foundation.

·         The Bowes Museum is a member of the Discover Durham partnership of attractions. Our commitment is to promote Durham as an exciting and vibrant group travel destination and to provide the travel trade with a professional and knowledgeable service: hotline number 0191 301 8531,

NADFAS*  Bursary Commissions 2004-2016 

·         NADFAS* - The National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies (now known as The Arts Society) is a charity with 90,000 members pursuing a mutual interest in the arts.

·         Established in 2003, bursaries have been provided initially by the North East Area of NADFAS and since 2013 by Sheffield DFAS and Hallamshire DFAS, for second year students on the Jewellery and Metalwork degree course at Sheffield Hallam University.

·         Other NADFAS Young Arts projects include the supply of arts materials within York hospitals, schools sponsored visits to local arts venues, the Ferrens Gallery, Hull, many in school and off site hands on artist led workshops and recently the opportunity for attendees at a Girl Guides event in Sheffield to create their own ceramic figure , some 400 , 50% of attendees had a go. Young Artists in the North East have been encouraged to enter the NADFAS RBA A Level Scholars Award competition and several were chosen to have their artworks displayed at the Royal Society of British Artists annual exhibition in The Mall Gallery, London.


Categories: News

The Bowes Museum is closed!

Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Caf� Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

Do please remember, however, that the Museum�s park and grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 � 4.00 daily, and that we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, clues can be found here.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.