'Boscawen-Un' Vessel

Title: 'Boscawen-Un' Vessel

Techniques: Hammer formed vessel. Pierced, reticulated and fused, enamelled lichen.

Materials: Britannia silver, sterling silver, vitreous enamel.

Dimensions: 250mm high approx

Date: 2015

Availability: This item is currently on display at the VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM until January 2017. The vessel is available for purchase, however, it is committed to the exhibition until early 2017. Similar items are available for purchase and commission. Please get in touch.

Photographer: Sylvain Deleu


The Source of Inspiration

The ‘Boscawen-Un’ Vessel is the result of a life long interest in the ancient monuments of our landscape. Standing stones often provide habitat for lichen and moss, a plant form which is usually overlooked but is particularly interesting when studied in close detail.

Cornwall has an abundance of both ancient monuments and lichen. In the course of my research I have looked at many monuments around the country including Avebury, and Holy Cairn and Torhouskie in Dumfries & Galloway, but I particularly focused on the Boscawen-Un Circle in Cornwall where I live. The vessel is intended to evoke the idea of a monolith, a stone that has stood for generations, and feelings of ancient stillness.

Boscawen-Un is in southwest Cornwall in the Penwith district north of St Buryan by the road from Penzance to Land's End. Boscawen-Un is a Cornish name, from the words bos (farmstead) and scawen (elder or elderberry tree). The suffix Un denotes an adjacent pasture. Therefore, the name translates as the pasture of the farmstead at the elderberry tree.

The Design Process

The design process for this piece involved several visits to the Boscawen-Un Circle to observe, contemplate and meditate, and to document the stones through photography and sketches, particularly concentrating on their lichen growth.

My observations and documentation of lichen has been extensive both on standing stones and in other environments.

I had an idea of the form I wished to create, and although this was never intended to be an exact representation of a standing stone it is intended to symbolise that of a monolithic form. From my original sketches of vessels I then progressed to working directly with the silver.

The lichen developed through working and experimenting directly in the material. I used numerous techniques and piercing patterns before settling on the final outcome. Many of these silver test pieces I then used to create colour tests in the enamel.

The Production Method

The vessel was hand raised and planished using a variety of stakes and hammers, and then textured using a rock to beat the surface of the silver before refining with texturing hammers. The lichen is pierced, hammered, reticulated, fused, and then vitreous enamel is applied & fired. The ‘lichen’ was then applied to the body of the vessel and is intended to appear as if growing on the vessel.

Hallmarked Britannia silver, December 2015.

For more information please email info@abigailbrown.co.uk or visit www.abigailbrown.co.uk or www.silverspeaks.co.uk