The Oxford-inspired work of architectural silversmith Vicki Ambery-Smith and ceramist Hugh Colvin are being shown together for the first time at the Ashmolean.

 Sheldonian Theatre 
The Sheldonian Theatre rendered in silver, yellow gold and enamel to celebrate its 350th anniversary

By Olivia Williams 

Oxford landmarks, painstakingly recreated in miniature by architectural silversmith Vicki Ambery-Smith and ceramist Hugh Colvin, are being shown together for the first time. 

Vicki Ambery-Smith has earned an international reputation for her unique style of jewellery and silverware based on her interpretations of architecture. Growing up in Oxford provided her with inspiration that has developed over 35 years into a theme that draws on buildings as diverse as ancient Greece and contemporary Europe and America.  

Ambery-Smith was commissioned by the Ashmolean to recreate six iconic Oxford buildings 

Ambery-Smith has recreated beloved Oxford landmarks in silver, including a piece celebrating the 350th anniversary of the construction of The Sheldonian Theatre. As part of her attention to detail, the lid opens to reveal its seating plan etched into the base. It measures just 7.1cm in length.  

She was commissioned by the Ashmolean to put together six of her favourite landmarks. She chose The Sheldonian Theatre, The Radcliffe Camera, Magdalen College Tower, Keble College, The Bodleian Library and St John's College.

Ambery-Smith's intricate cross-section of the Radcliffe Camera

Inspired by his father, the Oxford architectural historian Sir Howard Colvin, Hugh Colvin started making architectural models in porcelain clay fired to stoneware temperatures (1200 deg C). His models are often based on the historic designs by Michelangelo, Gibbs, Hawksmoor, Langley, LeDoux and others. He prefers the imaginary and the unbuilt, in particular follies and ruins, and has also created many fantasies to his own designs. He will be exhibiting four ceramic architectural sculptures.

The exhibition is free to view from now until 15 May 2016 at the Ashmolean Museum

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All images © Ashmolean Museum


By Jane Whiter

I've long been a fan of Vicki Ambery Smith's work and bought my first piece at Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum shop. It is certainly time that her home city showed some of her intricate and unusual work, which gives such pleasure.