All that glisters is not gold … it’s very often silver

Two silver brooches made by Georg Jensen, Shooting Star, 1970, designed by Henning Koppel and Möbius, 1968, designed by Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe, and a silver and enamel brooch, 1971, and silver and enamel pendant, 1978, by Norman Grant, acquired by Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums in 2012 and 2013 with three grants totalling £800.

Since stepping into post here at Aberdeen Art Gallery as Curator of Decorative Arts I have had the great good fortune to have been heavily involved in making discerning purchases of metalwork for the collection. The purchases have focused on items of silver jewellery made by artist/craftsmen and women in the 20th century. Each piece epitomises the style of its respective era and could easily be discussed in the context of the architecture, interiors, fashion and popular design of the time.

Silver brooch designed by Henning Koppel and made by George Jensen

Silver brooch designed by Henning Koppel and made by Georg Jensen

Two brooches by the firm of Georg Jensen, dating from the late 1960s, were designed by different ‘in house’ designers. Henning Koppel (1918-81) collaborated with Georg Jensen over many years and designed the amorphic Shooting Star brooch while Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe (1927-2004) designed the iconic Möbius piece. Both pieces are symbolic of what we have come to associate with the classic simplicity of Scandinavian design.

Silver brooch designed by Vivianna Torun Bulow-Hube and made by George Jensen

Silver brooch designed by Vivianna Torun Bulow-Hube and made by Georg Jensen

Both the Georg Jensen brooches are manifested in the work of architect Eero Saarinen who invoked suggestions of flight in his designs for the terminal at Dulles International Airport outside Washington DC and the TWA Terminal in New York, both finished in 1962.

Silver and enamel brooch by Norman Grant

Silver and enamel brooch designed and made by Norman Grant

Norman Grant designed and made both this enamelled brooch and pendant. Grant was born in Forres in 1943 and studied at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen, initially in graphic design before diversifying into silversmithing. His early pieces were colourful and derived inspiration from both organic and pop art forms. His trendsetting work acquired ‘must have’ status in the mid-1970s, worn by celebrities such as Sandy Shaw and Mick Jagger.

Sivler and enamel pendant by Norman Grant

Silver and enamel pendant designed and made by Norman Grant

Grant’s jewellery with its emphasis on earthy colour tones and irregular arrangement of shapes echoed those of the textiles designed by Bernat Klein (1922-2014), a number of whose garments are also in the collection at Aberdeen. Klein’s inspiration was derived from nature and the colours found there; often the seemingly haphazard juxtaposition of colour blocks made the most natural combinations.

The NFA is ecumenical in its approach to financial assistance – it supports the acquisition of modern and contemporary pieces as well as older historic ones. The NFA really fosters and supports the sense of purpose which Aberdeen Art Gallery has in common with many other galleries and museums; to continue to collect both actively and selectively.

Vikki Duncan
Curator of Decorative Arts