The Contemporary Art Society has recently acquired 50/50 (2015) by David Clarke for Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery. Clarke (b. 1966), a British silversmith educated at the Royal College of Art, London, works with domestic objects, subverting his chosen medium and breaking the conventions of silversmithing to create new and intriguing objects.
Clarke rejects traditional notions of beauty, distorting and innovatively transforming the surfaces of precious metals using corrosives such as salt and lead. The artist has based this most recent work, 50/50, on the cup that his mother used to take medicine towards the end of her life while suffering with cancer. His delicate approach to materiality creates an emotive intimacy around a subject that greatly impacts so many lives, with the self-corroding elements of the combined materials, pewter and lead, mirroring the effects of cancer as a destructive disease.
The acquisition of 50/50 for Plymouth will develop the museum’s contemporary holdings of metalwork. The work challenges the forms and functions of traditional metalworking to offer an interesting juxtaposition with the gallery’s substantial collection of historic metalwork and eighteenth-century tableware. The new and pioneering work is at once aesthetically appealing and also thought-provoking.
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society through the Omega Fund, 2016