THE ARCHITECTURE OF SILVER
While the metal pieces created by Rebecca de Quin reference architectural forms they also acknowledge various sorts of utilitarian domestic objects from Kilner jars to milk churns. Profile by Corinne Julius.
LOOKING at contemporary silver I often wish I was a borrower –like the miniscule human beings who inhabit the books of Mary Norton–in order to experience the full physical presence of a silversmith’s creations. This is particularly the case when looking at the work of Rebecca de Quin. Strong asymmetrical cones of copper, black oxidised rectangles, quilted silver cylinders, make up her architectural landscape –a world where relationships of volumes and space are key. De Quin creates spaces that feel as if they should be walked through in order to experience the changing relationships of angles, breadths and widths. It isn’t too fanciful to say that sometimes one can almost feel the wind swirling past the cylinders, rushing towards the cones and bouncing off the rectangles. Rebecca de Quin is perhaps an architect manqué. She laughs at the suggestion, but hastens to add that her husband is an architect; she is part of his world and he is a challenging critic of her work. De Quin might not have had any architectural training, but she grew up immersed in an appreciation of forms, spaces, materials and making. Her father, the Belgian-born sculptor and teacher Robert de Quin, was a major conscious and unconscious influence on her work. ‘Everyone, me, my sister, my mother and father were always making.’ Her mother was the beauty editor of Woman’s Weekly, who used her creative streak to make clothes but especially soft furnishings. The rooms she created with her husband’s help, often featured in the magazine. ‘It was a very creative atmosphere. I learnt from both of them. My mother taught me to sew. ’That sewing has emerged many years later in Quin’s quilted metal work. Despite this artistic powerhouse, no-one ever suggested that de Quin should go to art school, something that still puzzles her. ‘I really don’t know why. ’Instead she worked in the photographic department at Sotheby’s. ‘I saw lots of work and think I might have become a photographer. ’She travelled to South Africa where she spent five years as a window dresser. It helped hone her understanding of space and relationships between objects.
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