In Conversation With – Silversmith Angela Cork talks Inspiration, Changing Fashions and Life Lessons

© Angela Cork, 2017

We were delighted to welcome Silversmiths Angela Cork and Heather O’Connor for an exclusive behind the scenes view of the Silver and Objects of Vertu auction on 31 October and to discuss the array of impressive craftsmanship.

Angela is an award-winning Silversmith and Jewellery designer admired for her exquisite quality of finish and craftsmanship. Her aesthetic of crisp, clean lines and pure geometry allows her to create timeless objects that resonate as pieces of functional sculpture.

Angela uses traditional techniques to push the boundaries of her craft practice, reimagining them in a contemporary way. Angela is Vice Chair of Contemporary British Silversmiths, Freeman of the Goldsmiths’ Company and has exhibited at the Goldsmiths’ Fair, De Vroomen in Belgravia, The Contemporary Silver Gallery in Lindfield and The National Museum of Scotland.  Her work is in public collections including the Goldsmith’s Company, The National Museum of Wales and the Birmingham Museum and City Art Gallery.

What inspires your work?

So much! I take something from everything I see. When I first started out I researched other artists and was heavily inspired by Japanese gardens and minimalist architecture, these days I absorb many things of interest, it can be the shape of building, the shadows found in gardens, the composition of a photograph or the proportions of sculpture and I am even inspired by historical museum artefacts. Over the last twenty years of practising as a Silversmith I have developed a certain toolbox of aesthetic appreciation and I tend to pull out the things I have mentally and visually stored away, to draw on ideas for each new piece.

angela cork

© Angela Cork, 2017

How do you approach a new collection? Where do your ideas evolve from?

It depends on how I am working. If I am working to commission I am often given a brief or a theme to interpret and I start at the beginning by brainstorming ideas and sketching anything I feel is relevant to the project until I can start to develop it into an object. Often one piece will inform another, especially if I am working with a technique that I am enjoying and I think of new ways to express it.

Sum up your aesthetic in five words.

Clean, crisp, balanced, refined, contrasting.

Which silversmiths do you particularly admire and why?

I admire so many and for different reasons. If I had to pick a few I'd say Rod Kelly who makes some challenging large-scale pieces and mixes this with his artistic flair as a chaser, it is a real skill to do the construction and the decorative surface work and be good at both. I find the sculptural work of Junko Mori both intriguing and beautiful, and love the way she creates a larger piece from tiny elements. The combined work of Clive Burr and the enameller Jane short is very special; the clock they made for the Silver Trust which is on loan to 10 Downing Street is a celebration of form and colour. And no one can deny the exquisite engraved work of Malcolm Appleby which is so unique to him.

Available at

How would you say silver craftsmanship has changed over the centuries?

Objects now are a true reflection and sign of the times and changing fashions, although the techniques used are the same and the hammers, pliers and tools are all quite similar. However, today, the higher quality tools and better working conditions, with electric light, has undoubtedly had an impact on the quality of the workmanship. I am still dazzled by work that was made hundreds of years ago; it is every bit as precise and I wonder just how the Silversmiths of the past achieved such high standards. It seems like a luxury these days to spend months working on one piece, but much of the work produced in the past has clearly had a lot of time invested in it.

Do you see a revival of silver in everyday use or do you see its future as an art form?

I don't think silverware must be one or the other; there is huge scope for amazing artistic works and for creating unique items for everyday use. I think it’s a mix; there will always be a place for collectors to buy beautiful objects and for people to take great joy in using something in life that is well designed.

Available at


What is the most valuable lesson you have learned?

Say yes to everything and work out the details later, it might seem hard or beyond my capabilities but by accepting all the wonderful opportunities that have come my way it has pushed my skills, helped to develop my business and given me the chance to work on pieces I only ever dreamed of.

Is there a piece of jewellery that you could not live without?

Yes, my engagement ring, it's a beautiful design and very simple.

What is next for you?

Apart from chairing the Contemporary British Silversmiths for the next three years, I will continue to take on bespoke commissions whilst working on some exciting production projects.

Silver & Objects of Vertu with Gold Boxes - 31 October