Tim Peel© Sculptural Ring, gold, South Sea pearl, spinel, diamond. (Photograph courtesy of the artist)

Just before the Yarra Valley Open Studio’s Program kicked off this year I met gold and silversmith Tim Peel. Last week an email came through letting me know that Tim received the “Premier’s Award for Excellence” on November 5th at the Tasmanian Craft Fair. The award (a $10,000 aquisitive prize) is the highlight of the Fair, which is one of Tasmania’s most important annual cultural events.

His winning entry (above) is quite a departure from his previous work, so I was interested to know how it came about. Tim explained it like this,

“The pearl was shown to me by a merchant when I was looking for some black tahitian pearls for an order. It was the perfect South Sea pearl in every way except for a tiny little blemish. I couldn’t resist and it came home with me. It sat on the bench looking at me for several weeks until an inspiration came and I frantically started carving the idea in wax.  It was carved in deep relief because I knew I wanted to add other coloured gem stones to compliment the luscious luster of the pearl and the deep rich hues of polished and satined gold. In this case I chose red spinel and diamond. The setting techniques where also a technical challenge, I used channel, bezel and hammer settings…

The concept behind this design and many others that I am working on, is exploring that curious grey area where jewellery ends and sculpture begins…”

I was also curious about the impact that such a significant prize would have on his work.
“As for future impact, the prize will allow me to invest in some new equipment that will lead to the realization of some long term projects.  It also inspires me to persevere with the every day mundane side of running a commercial studio and get to the creative days.  It also led to a marked increase in sale at the craft fair with many patrons wanting a souvenir of the winner.”

You may remember that Tim and his wife Liz established Silvermist Studio in Healesville in 1998. They have been active in the Yarra Valley arts and tourism scene since that time. More recently, Tim has been heavily involved in the Yarra Valley Open Studios Program both as one of its founders and as a participant. He is also a Director of Mud Glass Metal gallery in Healesville.

My congratulations to Tim on winning this prestigious award.