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 looking forward to welcoming you on the 17 May

Staff have been busy behind the Museum’s closed doors getting everything ready to welcome visitors back safely.

Café Bowes has undergone a refurbishment and has a new menu waiting to be sampled, the Museum has been deep cleaned, new signage is in place reminding you to adhere to social distancing, hand sanitisation stations have been refilled, the shop has been restocked and staff are being trained ready to greet you back in a safe and timely manner.

North Country Quilts: In Celebration of New Acquisitions is now hanging in the main exhibition gallery ready to wow visitors through to January 2022 and, due to social distancing measures, entry to the display will be by a separate timed exhibition entrance ticket that needs to be booked, at no extra cost, before visiting. Song has also been reinstated in the Music Room so people can enjoy the sound of the instruments. A varied programme of activity is being planned throughout May and June which we hope you will participate in.

Entry to the Museum will be by timed slots and tickets will have to be pre-booked online here or by calling 01833 690606. The Museum will be open from 10.00 to 5.00 daily. Masks will need to be worn throughout the Museum, shop and café, except when eating or where exemptions apply.

We look forward to welcoming you back soon!