Publication: Crafts Magazine
Michael Lloyd — Twelve Vessels
10 Infirmary Street
Edinburgh EH1 1LT
Until 11 December 2010
The term ‘vessel’ is loaded with meaning and association but at its core is the notion of a receptacle for conveyance or deposition. Doubtless, however, the term’s etymological freight was uppermost in the mind of silversmith Michael Lloyd when he conceived this wonderfully elegant and simple project by inviting eleven sets of friends each to commission a vessel based on one month of the year which held significance for them.
For Lloyd’s Twelve Vessels of Life, Love and Death — to give the undertaking its full title — is about the celebration of the fundamentals of human existence. Explaining his approach, Lloyd writes that the “…collection embraces my love of the natural world and our place, as part of nature, amongst it…” Twelve Vessels, he continues is “…a recognition not only of the beauty of nature but of the profound events that mark our lives as we progress from cradle to grave — of birth, of love, of survival, of loss and death.
It’s plain from examining, admiring and even coveting these objects (all of which, on a practical level, could be used for drinking) that Lloyd’s impassioned love of nature is complemented by his skill as a crafter and worker of metal. His chasing, planishing, polishing, raising, sinking and repoussé — along with the engraving of George Lukes and the gilding of Stephen Wood — celebrate nature as well as underlining the sanctity and delicacy of life. For, with the exception of one (September’s, commissioned by John and Jenny Makepeace) all bear motifs derived from plants and trees.
August’s goblet was commissioned by Michael Lambert who comments: “A shared wonder of nature first drew me to Michael’s work and his delicate observation of flora made him the obvious choice from whom to commission a special piece of silverware to celebrate the August birthday of my son. Decoration of this vessel with the subtle chasing of rosa rugosa is particularly apt given the profusion of wild roses that bejewel the hedgerows around our family home in Northumberland….”
A number of these vessels bear inscriptions. Alexander and Lucinda Scott, for whom Lloyd made March’s vessel, chose a verse from The Song of Solomon which provides the inscription around the base of the goblet: “Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.” The floral motif is the guelder rose, bursting with buds, evocative of fecundity and sensuality.
Chris Philipson’s late wife Patricia is commemorated in July’s vessel, a small eight-sided cup, which bears the stylised motif of the wild poppy. October’s vessel (similar in form and size to July’s) was made for Amanda Game in memory of her late husband, Andrew Raven. Here, Lloyd uses an expertly drawn hawthorn motif as an elegiac device celebrating Raven’s love of wild land and his belief in the importance of humanity’s stewardship of our common home.
This show, beautifully lit and carefully presented, is a joy; moving and uplifting by turns it celebrates the sacred communion between life and death, and humanity and natural world.