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Andrew Renton, Head of Design Collections, Amgueddfa Cymru - Museum Wales
21 March 2024

Con Brio Centrepiece: A P&O Makower Trust commission

Andrew Renton, Head of Design Collections, Amgueddfa Cymru - Museum Wales

21 March 2024 | Minute read

Theresa Nguyen’s Con Brio Centrepiece was the second new addition to the P&O Makower Trust’s collection of contemporary silver after the collection was transferred in 2006 from the Crafts Council in London for display at National Museum Cardiff.

From Barmouth to Birmingham

Theresa was born in Barmouth, Wales, in 1985, then brought up and educated in Birmingham. While still in the first year of her BA in Jewellery and Silversmithing at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, she won the Goldsmiths’ Company’s Young Designer of the Year award.

Now based in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, Theresa is highly skilled in a broad range of silversmithing techniques. She attributes her ‘inventiveness, curiosity and love of aesthetic precision’ to the influence of her grandfather – a professional gunsmith from Vietnam – and her father, a lecturer in chemistry and mathematics.

An exciting moment

We couldn’t help but give this commission to Theresa. The explosion of ideas, skill and creativity that she presented at the interview was one of the most exciting moments in my career as a curator. The finished work really lives up to this. The hard metal has a soft organic quality, making the object appear to float weightlessly.

In Theresa’s own words: “The design explores the concept of energy in a form. This object is conceived as a living force of nature. Full of vigour, she displays a release of energy captured in a single gesture. The effect is a graceful sense of movement but with lively animation.”

You can read more about the making of this piece on Theresa’s website.


P&O Makower Trust Commission: 2024 commission for Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales - Call for entries

Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales is pleased to invite entries for the P & O Makower (1974) Trust Silver Commission. An exciting opportunity that looks to support recently graduated and early-career silversmiths in the creation of a major piece of silver that will go on display at National Museum Cardiff.

For over 45 years, the P & O Makower (1974) Trust has commissioned major objects of silver to go on long-term loan to national museums throughout the UK including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Ashmolean, National Museums Scotland and Amgueddfa Cymru - Museum Wales. Notable previous commissions have been awarded to Chris Knight, Ndidi Ekubia, Theresa Nguyen and Adi Toch.

The purpose of the commission is both to support a recently graduated or early-career silversmith to extend their craft as well as to exhibit their work in one of the UK’s leading museums. The value of the commission is £6,000 to include materials and making.

This commission will be for the creation of a new work in silver and will prioritise individuals who use traditional methods in new and exciting ways, such as by embracing digital technology or developing new techniques for working metal. Applicants may wish to explore the use of silver in conjunction with other metals or materials. Please note that any additional materials must degrade at the same rate as silver and materials such as plastic and rubber will not be accepted.

Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales was founded by royal charter in 1907. It houses one of Britain’s most important collections of silver, ranging in date from the medieval period to the 21st century and featuring major pieces from all periods, many of them associated with Welsh families. In recent years, the Museum has developed a growing collection of contemporary metalwork that includes works by makers such as Hiroshi Suzuki, Pamela Rawnsley, Miriam Hanid and Rauni Higson.

The successful commission will be displayed at National Museum Cardiff alongside previous commissions by the P&O Makower Trust and other contemporary silver. Key moments in the development and making of the piece will be documented on Celf ar y Cyd.

The judges for the competition will include staff of Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales, the Makower family and professionals from the silversmithing craft.

To apply

If you would like to be considered for this commission, please send via https://www.wetransfer.com/ a full CV with contact details and a personal statement about your practice, together with 6 high quality photographs, no less than 300dpi, of your work by 5.00p.m. on Monday 8th April 2024 by email to andrew.renton@museumwales.ac.uk.

Applicants should provide examples of at least three different objects. Please note that (a) jewellery is not permitted within this commission and (b) entries are sought from recently (last seven years) graduated or early-career silversmiths. The images should be a minimum of A5 in size and 300 dpi. Any queries should be directed by email to Andrew Renton, Head of Design Collections.

From the images and statement supplied the judges will select a shortlist of candidates who will be invited to present more detailed sketches of their proposed piece to the panel at National Museum Cardiff. It is envisaged that the shortlist will be announced by the end of April 2024 and those shortlisted will be interviewed in June 2024. Reasonable travel expenses for shortlisted candidates will be covered by the Trust.

A jellyfish made of silver. It is majestic with leaf-like layers, making the object look as though it's swimming in the air.

Con Brio Centrepiece, NGUYEN, Theresa © Theresa Theper/Penelope and Oliver Makower(1974)Trust/Amgueddfa Cymru - Museum Wales


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