Silver lining for Welwyn Garden City artist Ben

A YOUNG silversmith has won a prestigious award for a silver mussel dish which is to be exhibited in a national museum.

Ben Ryan, of Panshanger, WGC, designed and made the piece – called Mytilidae – for a Goldsmiths’ Company initiative to encourage students to show their artistic individuality in silver.

As part of winning the Young Designer Silversmith Award, he was able to make his mussel dish working with top silversmiths who have made items for the Vatican and have his project displayed in the National Museum of Wales.

The 22-year-old, who was awarded �500 and free registration for Hallmarking at the London Assay Office for winning, told the WHT: “I was really surprised, I didn’t expect to win. I’m over the moon really.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to be given the chance to work with such a large piece of metal, and to work with silversmiths who have made things for the Pope before.”

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Ben, of Wyton, said he chose to do a mussel dish because his love for the shellfish inspired him.

The award scheme was started in 1994 by Rosemary Ransome Wallis, curator of the collections at Goldsmiths’ Hall.

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She said: “The rationale behind it was to encourage studio silver design, with the combination of a competition for excellence of design and an opportunity to perfect dexterity of craftsmanship being at the heart of the scheme.”

This year’s brief was to design a presentation dish suggestive of coastal environments and their rich edible sources.

The mussel dish was then polished and parcel gilded in lemon gold by outside specialists.

The finished piece measures 700mm x 300mm and weighs 2,710g.

In a ceremony which took place on November 25, in the Court Room of the National Museum of Wales, in Cardiff, the current prime warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company, Michael Galsworthy, congratulated Ben on his outstanding achievement and handed him his winner’s certificate and cheque.

Ben is also set to open his own workshop and retail outlet in WGC.

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