What Colour is Metal?


Winchester Gallery, Hampshire



Open to the Public



What Colour is Met­al?

14 October - 3 December 2022

Winchester Gallery, Hampshire

What Colour is Met­al? brings you on a jour­ney of process, exper­i­men­ta­tion and mas­tery through the work of 25 con­tem­po­rary jew­ellers and silversmiths.

This exhibition is a consideration of the relationship between metal and colour in contemporary silversmithing and jewellery practice, and a mapping of relationships and practice in key centres internationally. It examines approaches ranging from colour achieved using the inherent properties of metal to react with other chemicals or heat (or a combination of the two); the reveal of colour as a property of the metal itself; infusing the surface of aluminium with pure colour or image; the use of enamel glazes with varying degrees of transparency and opacity - but always with a fundamentally strong relationship with the surface qualities of the metal.

Through seminal works by key international practitioners, including pioneer of metal colouration research, Michael Rowe, alongside new generations of makers, it places the artists’ practice in a broader context and traces international information exchange. It considers routes to support learning patination at all levels: from schools to professional studios; from undergraduates to specialists in conservation.

What Colour is Metal? makes vivid the connections between innovative studio practice and historic techniques, and furthermore looks to the future and profiles potential adaptations for industry. It examines notions of value, and the changes in assay regulations which have allowed a freer approach to combining precious and base metals within a single work. The possibilities for achieving colour modulations and sometimes startling colour were seemingly endless. The democratisation of the information occurred at a time when notions of precious were being reexamined, and led to a surge in the application of colour; on jewellery and vessels, but more widely in architectural practice, in mid-scale applications such as furniture and interior surfaces. It has been described by esteemed crafts writer, critic and curator Martina Margetts as “a paradigm of the transformation of the aesthetics and creative possibilities in the last quarter of the twentieth century.”

Visit the only UK showing of What Colour is Metal? At Winchester School of Art between October 14 – December 3 2022. 12.00-17.00 Tuesday – Friday. 12.00-16.00 Saturday.

Curated by Sara Roberts and Cóilín Ó Dubhghaill.