Made for the Table

13 Jul 2018 - 31 Aug 2018 · Mon - Fri, 09:00AM - 6:00PM
Free admission
Exhibition Room
Event type

Explore the evolution of silver tableware and dining conventions from the 1600 to today through the world-renowned silver collection of the Goldsmiths' Company.

From candlesticks and cutlery to serving dishes, silver tableware has been the focal point of our table settings for more than 500 years. These decorative, yet highly functional, objects traditionally denote status and continue to add stylish accents in a contemporary setting. Today, despite vast changes in taste and style, the UK’s leading contemporary silversmiths are still inspired to make extraordinary handmade objects for the table. 

Made for the Table is a unique touring exhibition, that facilitates a conversation between historic and contemporary craft; from the significance of dining silver to the influence of function on design. This exhibition will present a bespoke table laid out with expertly crafted silver objects, modern glass, ceramics and textiles by leading UK artisans. A key piece shown only at the Goldsmiths’ Centre as part of the Made for the Table tour offers an insight into social history: a silver tankard containing pegs on the inside (Joannes Reimers, circa 1658). The term peg probably derives from the Danish measure ‘paegl’, roughly equivalent to a pint. The tankard would be passed around during a drinking game, in which the aim was to drink as much as possible, to get down to the next peg, hence the phrase ‘take you down a peg or two’.  

Meanwhile, two highly ornate 16th century salt cellars epitomise the historical and social importance of salt as a valuable trading commodity. Silversmith Adi Toch’s cutting-edge ‘Pinch of Salt’ bowl (2010) comments on the preciousness of salt as a source of wealth, while raising ideas of containment and display – the user is literally restricted to take only a pinch of salt. 

The display is accompanied by audio and visual interpretation of the collection curated by creative practice AVM Curiosities. An ambient soundscape, entitled Silverware 7, by Mee, former member of the Smashing Pumpkins, vividly brings to life the making process through a recording of silver being struck as percussion pieces. Influenced by 17th century Dutch paintings, Rosalind Atkinson’s photographic series Silverware Still Live accompanies the central display and illustrates how domestic silver continues to be an important source of inspiration and admiration. 


Learn more about silver tableware and the makers behind the pieces through the exhibition programme of events.