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Michael O'Sullivan

Artist's statement...

" My initial training was in the Royal Navy as an engineering Artificer serving in the Fleet Air Arm. I continued my education at Plymouth College of Art and Design (P.C.A.D.), Manchester Polytechnic and London Guildhall University.

I have worked as an aircraft engineer, as an artist and independent designer silversmith and taught art, design and manufacture at P.C.A.D., Robert Gordon's Institute of Technology in Aberdeen and London Guildhall University.

The two silver shoes on exhibition are part of a series that developed as an idea from a design project set for fashion students in Plymouth. The theme of shoes was continued within a design and manufacture project presented to metal working students at the same college. To encourage the group I made a full size 'stiletto' heeled shoe from copper sheet using templates made by one of the students. She had cut up a pair of her old shoes to examine the shape of the component parts.

Later in pursuit of my own work when I was looking for a symbol to represent my perception of human 'vulnerability' being based in desire, this shoe came to mind. The fine balance and the fragility of the fully enclosed free-standing objects in the resulting series, represents the nature of vulnerability within human sexuality.

The work has a strong association with Hamburg. The pieces were manufactured in Cornwall but I was also working for Lufthansa in Hamburg during the period in which they were made. They are now offered for sale at the Hilde Leiss gallery in Hamburg for which I am very grateful.

Each piece is handmade from 1.1mm Sterling silver sheet. Individual parts were raised and shaped using traditional silversmithing techniques before being silver soldered together. The resulting fabrication was then further developed by working from both the inside and the outside of the piece to complete the shaping of the object. This form of silverwork is known as 'holloware'.

In the process of pursuing and encouraging art based craftwork I continue to support the handmaking traditions within industrial metal working."

M. O'Sullivan