Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery
Vicki Ambery-Smith has earned an international reputation for her unique metalwork interpretations of cityscapes. Her jewellery is designed to be worn, and the architectural structures on which she bases her work are therefore adapted, rather than replicated, in miniature. More than a representation of a building, each becomes a study of shape, surface, light, space and the language of architecture.
Birmingham City Ring was commissioned specifically for Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. It depicts iconic Birmingham city-centre buildings including the Museum, Birmingham Central Library, Selfridges, Rotunda and one of the city’s canals, among other landmarks. It captures a moment in the city’s ever-changing architectural environment and celebrates Birmingham’s history in the jewellery trade.
The process of making Birmingham City Ring began by drawing the concept of it from every angle, by hand. It was then constructed using silver sheet, beginning with the ring shank followed by soldering the top plate and curved underside of the ring base. Each tiny building was made by scoring and folding silver sheet into a small hollow box, cutting out windows and applying additional layers of sheet silver or a veneer of red or yellow gold. The Library’s distinctive colours of blue and yellow were created with anodised titanium. Each building was soldered onto the base one by one. The canal that weaves through the city is made of anodised niobium, complete with a tiny oxidized silver boat.
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s collection development aims to gather material that explores the urban experience from multiple perspectives and to expand the collection of work by female artists. The acquisition of Ambery-Smith’s Birmingham City Ring will build on the city’s collection of modern and contemporary jewellery dating from the 1970s, and featuring national and international makers.
Vicki Ambery-Smith (b. 1955, Leeds, UK) lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (2015/16); Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2017/18); Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh (2018/19). Recent group exhibitions include Kath Libbert Gallery, Bradford (2018); Oxford Ceramic Gallery (2018).
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society through the Omega Fund, 2018/19