Invaluable Tool: Interviews

Francisca Onumah, Helena Russell

As part of Francisca Onumah & Helena Russell’s commission for Jerwood Art Fund Makers Open, Invaluable Tool, they have interviewed three Sheffield based silversmiths – David Allison, Kurt Calow and Robert Lamb – who have been part of the industry in different capacities throughout most of their careers. Through these conversations the artists reflect on the past, present and future of silversmithing and the role of the individual maker within this.

About the artists

Francisca Onumah is a Ghanaian born silversmith who graduated with an MA in Jewellery and Silversmithing from Birmingham School of Jewellery in 2015. She was selected for the two-year Starter Studio Programme for jewellers and silversmiths at Yorkshire Artspace in Sheffield (2017-19), where she was awarded the ‘Precious Little Gems’ commission from the Sheffield Assay Office (SAO). The commission was exhibited in the Millennium Galleries at Museums Sheffield (2019) and is now part of the SAO silver collection. An alumnae of the Crafts Council’s 2020 Hothouse programme, Onumah’s work was featured in Maker’s Eye: Stories of Craft, Crafts Council Gallery, London, UK (2021) and Craft Festival, Bovey Tracey, UK (2021). In 2022 her work is on display as part of We Gather, Crafts Council Gallery, London, UK; Harewood House Craft Biennial, Leeds, UK; and she will complete a window display for Bluecoat Display Centre, Liverpool, UK. franciscaonumah.co.uk

Helena Russell graduated from Sheffield Hallam University with a BA Hons in Jewellery and Metalwork and an MA in Design. She is currently based in Persistence Works, Yorkshire Artspace, where she has recently come to the end of her time in the Starter Studio, a programme for early-career silversmiths and jewellers. Here she has been developing her practice, creating new works which she has taken to exhibitions and craft fairs including Goldsmiths Fair, London, UK (2019, 2020, 2021) and New Designers, London, UK (2016, 2018, 2019). In 2016 she received the Contemporary British Silversmiths Design in Silver Award. helenarussell.co.uk