"Hammerclub Legnica 2016"


Hammerclub ,the fairytale

Janjaap Luijt

“Once upon a time, there were four silversmiths. Three came from Germany, the fourth from Denmark. They met and had a pleasant evening, drinking beer and eating pork sausages. At a certain moment the hosting silversmith said to the others: ‘I have this nice, favourite hammer, you should see. Let’s go to my workshop and work with it’, and so they did. During the following night the four silversmiths raised and hammered a beautiful silver bowl, meanwhile having discussions about technique and artistic values. The next morning at breakfast, while drinking coffee from the newly made bowl, the four decided the meeting should be repeated in the future. This way the Hammerclub was founded. In the following years the group of befriended silversmiths grew. They met each other annually and always brought their favourite hammer. And so, the silversmiths of the world hammered happily ever after.”

This is the story I was told the first time I joined a Hammerclub meeting. I liked it. It was prosaic and it reflected the casual atmosphere of the meetings I visited ever since. Like most stories of origin, the founding of the Hammerclub was not exactly as in the described fairytale.



The basic idea of professional exchange between silversmiths from different countries originated at an international workshop meeting in Schleswig-Holstein, where Danish and German silversmiths felt the need to meet regularly. In 2002, during the annual Christmas exhibition of the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany, the establishment of the Hammerclub was announced. This initial meeting counted about forty German and Danish silversmiths and some silver experts. Together they decided the Hammerclub should be an informal gathering of like-minded people from the silversmith trade. They would present the art of silversmithing to a broad public, establish contacts with collectors and museum professionals, and share knowledge of technical developments and artistic aspects. Renowned  museums and galleries were willing to host exhibitions and ever since an annual meeting followed.

The Hammerclub works without a board, without statutes, and without memberships. It only has participants. Everyone attracted by the material and the radiance of silver is invited to participate. Those who choose to join a meeting are that year’s participants, and those who are unable to come, are not. Volunteers from the own ranks organize the meetings and exhibitions. Due to its structure the Hammmerclub is constantly changing. It will live on, as long as museums and volunteers will carry on organizing the meetings and exhibitions.
Over the course of time, a wide ranging, diverse, constantly changing and growing community of silversmiths, professors with their students, collectors, museum experts, gallery owners, authors and exhibition curators, formed itself. The people of this community feel connected as one big family and learn from one another. In 2016 almost 800 people from various European countries were invited to take part in this community called Hammerclub.
Participants are encouraged to benefit from everything a meeting can offer, but are also expected to contribute. One of the contributions is giving a hand in the forging of a common bowl. This provides the participants the ideal opportunity to exchange knowledge. Everyone who works on the common bowl signs it with his maker’s mark, and after the meeting the object is presented to the hosting museum or gallery.
The central event of every Hammerclub meeting is an exhibition in a museum or gallery. The silversmiths are challenged to show their creativity and skills by means of a theme. Each of them presents his work to the other participants, describing the idea or motivation behind it and the technical difficulties he had to overcome. Since 2008, with the support of sponsors, three entries are rewarded with the Hammerclub Awards: 1000 g, 600 g and 400 g of silver. Voting and the award ceremony take place during the Hammerclub meeting. All of the meeting participants have voting privileges, so one could say, this competition has the most diverse and experienced jury imaginable.
In 2016 the Hammerclub meeting is held in Legnica, Poland, as a part of the 25th Legnica Silver Festival organized by Gallery of Art in Legnica. The theme of this year’s festival and the corresponding Legnica International Jewellery Competition, is ‘City’. The organizers of the Hammerclub exhibition have thought to fit in with this topic. For the Hammerclub exhibition works of seventeen silversmiths from nine countries are selected. They will be on show from April 26 until June 5. The awards will be voted during the Hammerclub meeting and award ceremony will take place during the Hammerclub dinner party on Friday May 20. This year the awards are supported by Agosi from Pforzheim, Germany.




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Legnica Jewellery Festival SILVER 2020