tsg malcolm appleby catalogue
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MALCOLM APPLEBY AT 70
MALCOLM APPLEBY AT 70
6 30 january 2016
16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ tEl 0131 558 1200 Email email@example.com
Front cover: Photograph of malcolm appleby by David Eustace, 2015left: Detail of the Glenmorangie Beaker, 2015. Engraved silver
the Scottish Gallery is honoured to celebrate malcolm applebys 70th birthday which marks over 50 years of a creative tour de force. malcolm appleby has dedicated his artistic practice primarily to engraving and pushing the boundaries of metalwork; constant experimentation has made him a master of his craft and in 2014 he received an mBE for his outstanding contribution to the arts. this birthday exhibition sets out to provide a snapshot of malcolms current work. the Gallery has been associated with malcolm appleby since the 1970s; the many facets of his work has brought joy to many, each piece sold marking the beginning of a journey of discovery around this senior artist. Professor Elizabeth moignards essay provides us with further insight into his studio practice and career and we are grateful to the contemporary photographer David Eustace who has allowed us to use three images of malcolm taken from his Friends and Artists portfolio. last but not least, the Gallery is indebted to Philippa Swann, malcolms wife who, amongst many other things, is the lifeblood of malcolms business and whose many photographs of his work grace these pages.
left: malcolm appleby by David Eustace, 2015
malcolm was born in Kent, and trained, given his obvious talent, in a series of respected art schools in the south east of England, finishing with the RCA in 1968, followed by the award of the littledale Scholarship by the Goldsmiths Company a promising foundation. From our point of view now, though, it was the move to Scotland in 1969 and the setting up of his first studio in Crathes which mark the beginnings of a lifetime of work which has always had its roots in his instinctive sense of connection with the place he inhabits. this feeds the enduring love of nature, and the commitment to its conservation, and also the evident sense of social duty to the humans who operate in it too. Now based in Perthshire, he and his household are living and working in one of the oldest inhabited landscapes in Scotland, and his sense of being embedded in its natural environment is an enduring element in his aesthetic. a persistently enquiring mind, and the courage to experiment provide many of the drivers which make that emotional base produce some extraordinary work, beautiful, amusing, challenging, sometimes all at once.
Carving and engraving are the techniques most closely associated with malcolms work, and we might view this as a starting point in looking at the way in which his oeuvre
naturally involves both the creation of large-scale publicly commissioned work, and smaller and more intimate and domestic desirables, including jewellery. the early years in Scotland were spent completing commissions, engraving guns and experimenting with new approaches to the craft, not least using a hammer and chisel, resulting later in the bolder graphics we see on many of his bigger pieces.
I first became aware of Malcolms work in the 1970s and 1980s at the Scottish Gallery: what i was seeing then was usually relatively small pieces of fine jewellery, already evidence of an experimental and imaginative approach to metal and colour. in the early nineties, i acquired a very clever neckpiece from the Scottish Gallery exhibition Chain Reaction an assemblage of sizeable flat hammered silver links with an interlinked gold system: malcolm and Philippa noticed it on my first visit to their house; I have worn it ever since with pleasure. there are a number of equally remarkable necklaces in this exhibition (page 20-21) including hammered, stamped and one sensational mixed metal necklace set with diamonds (page 15). these all display that bold view of metal and colour which so characterise his experimental approach to his material, and the determination to make it work in a well-made and designed object.
Malcolm Appleby at 70
This year invites us to celebrate fifty years of the engraving and fine metalwork of the master craftsman Malcolm Appleby: there is plenty to admire and to rejoice about in response to that invitation, and to reflect on too. Malcolms biography on page 40 shows us much of the justification for the makers reputation and the recognition his work and career have deserved and won; we can see a substantial number of important public commissions, exhibitions, and awards, including his recent MBE and his Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hand Engravers Association of Great Britain. But this is in many ways the scaffolding, and the content which is implied by his biography is what underwrites and at least partially explains the evolution of a remarkable
body of work over those fifty years.
Glenmorangie Beaker, 2015Britannia silver, part giltH7 x D7.3 cms
Otter and Waterlilies Bangle, 2015Silver cast version of Banchory BangleW2.2 to 3 cms
at the same time, though, i was becoming increasingly aware of his work on a larger scale, including some important public commissions and museum pieces; these visibly provide not only space for the experimental, but also crystallise much of malcolms particular ethical practice in approaching public art. the commitment to nature is evident, but equally a sense of duty to make political, and often satirical comment. Some of this underlies one of my favourite pieces: the cup he produced for the 500th anniversary of the London Assay Office, which traced the changing form of its leopard mark with jokes and an evident love and observation of cats, but also with a commentary on service and stability. the Hurricane George bowl of 2007 matured this ethos by referring to Hurricane Katrinas destruction of New Orleans, both a climatic disaster on a monumental scale and a human catastrophe; President George W Bush, as malcolm puts it, played golf while New Orleans drowned. So George appears in the eye of the storm in the centre of the bowl, but his eyes will never meet yours. the table centre-piece commissioned for the Millennium collection at Bute House addresses a more local issue with as much passion, from a more celebratory angle. The original fluid design on unrolling paper led to a silver sculpture which confronts the viewer with the coastline of Scotland undulating adaptably along the table, accompanied by coastal stack-like candlesticks like the Old man of Hoy, and flower holders which lie offshore as islands. The sense that the Scottish government should be for the whole of our beautiful Scotland, not just its urban centres, is a serious part of the message.
Engraving includes lettering, of course; words make messages and points easier to make, and here malcolms part in the long tradition of political satire and commentary in art emerged most recently, perhaps in his Catch Phrase series (page 36-37), in which he picks up on famous mantras such as the big society and emphasises their hollow ring by engraving them on a beaker. the invitation to deliver the Glenmorangie lecture at the National museum of Scotland in 2015 generated the Glenmorangie Beaker (page 5). this takes, as malcolm says, a deliberately different approach to lettering, street graffiti-style meets Celtic, combined with
straight line illusion engraving there has only been one beaker engraved like this one. it is a riot of line and light.
Nature and nurture, and social duty: probably the evolution of the Banchory Bangle encapsulates this best. this annual commission began in 1976 to raise funds with RSSPCC (now Children 1st), and its first gold edition, made from publicly contributed scrap gold, was auctioned at the touch of tartan Ball in aberdeen to celebrate 21 years of malcolm appleby in Scotland. later editions were replicated by casting in silver, and so have had a wide circulation after an annual raffle at the Ball, and a reputation both as an important piece of charity work and as wearable folk art. in many ways they are an indicative marker of Malcolms ethos and practice: a piece of fine and often humorous observation, produced with attention to detail and generosity of spirit for a serious purpose. The bangles have exhibited flowers, birds, fish, and one year, cats with fish in their bellies, licking their lips with long curly tongues. the 2015 version features an otter and waterlilies (see opposite). malcolm has collaborated with many other charities, creating fund-raising pieces for them, most recently the RSPB Scotlands Capercaillie conservation and sparrow projects.
the collaborative instinct has often grown from a mixture of technical experiment and practical necessity; an early experiment evolved from engraving discs which could be raised to form bowls via carving in low-relief migrated to a point at which the metal so treated could be shaped with a mallet, usually by Peter musgrove, who is one of the earliest in a series of collaborators who have been an essential part of malcolms evolving practice over some 40 years. these and related experiments would always be revisited, revised and improved, and eventually lead, among other things to the surfaces which are enamelled by Jane Short. the need to collaborate has been intensified in recent years by a major commission that will take several years at least to complete. this has meant working with other makers to allow malcolm to continue to design and make more new pieces. the invention of different ways of making, not least a parallel development from his early practice of firing precious metal onto eng