Not only was Graham Stewart one of Scotland’s foremost silversmiths of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, but he was also a master of hand engraving. The inspiration for his forms was mainly nature. He did not replicate what he saw, but the forms he created were organic and often intuitive.
He had great respect for words and was a devotee of the Irish bard Seamus Heaney. After discovering Heaney’s favourite prose was the BBC’s Radio’s Shipping Forecast, Stewart designed a series of bowls that have been much admired. He chose and arranged the almost hypnotic words of the Forecast on the bowls with the flow of a poet. The series was expanded to other themes, the inspiration coming from poetry and Celtic spirituality. The engravings brought life to his bowls.
Stewart established his workshop in Dunblane in 1978. He always worked with a small team of skilled craftsmen. His father, an industrial designer, was a leading influence in his life as he had a keen interest in silversmithing. His brother, an engineer, joined him when he retired which explains why Stewart used a hydraulic press, not a tool normally associated with silversmithing, for very large commissions.
As visitors enter the Scottish Parliament, they are greeted with the Three Honours a large silver sculpture designed and made by Stewart. It is an impressive, intertwined creation with the three elements representing Scotland’s State Jewels - the crown, sceptre and sword, which are held in Edinburgh Castle. Arguably it has been one of the most viewed pieces of modern silver in Britain today.
Stewart's many important commissions reflect the admiration and respect others had for him, including those commissioning the impressive claret jugs which are part of the Millennium Collection for Bute House. His shop in Dunblane provided a great opportunity to meet and chat with Stewart, allowing customers to grow their collections and acquire one-off pieces. A key contributor to modern Scottish and British silver, Stewart's work is well represented in both in public and private collections, with important pieces included within numerous British institutions such as the Aberdeen Museum and Art Gallery and The Pearson Silver Collection, which is devoted to Post-War British silver.
View the full selection of works by Graham Stewart ⇒
Lyon & Turnbull is the undisputed market leader when it comes to dedicated Scottish silver auctions, with an annual dedicated sale in August held in our Scottish auction house in Edinburgh and via live online auction. Our specialists’ in-depth knowledge of Scottish provincial silver and the current market have proved to be an essential combination to the successful sale of provincial silver from not only the silversmiths of Edinburgh and Glasgow but also Elgin, Ballater, Aberdeen and Perth.
SCOTTISH SILVER, JACOBITE WORKS OF ART & WHISKY