Contemporary New Zealand Silver from the Collection of the James Wallace Arts Trust
19 December 2004 - 19 December 2004
In 1995 notable Auckland collector James Wallace commissioned a large sterling silver table service from the then Auckland-based silversmith, Peter Woods. The Wallace Service comprises over 130 pieces of cutlery, functional and decorative objects. The centerpiece, which is over a metre long, is an illuminated three dimensional representation of Auckland and the Waitemata Harbour including the city foreshore, the Customs House, Rangitoto Island and the Harbour Bridge.
Silver table services, especially those incorporating centerpieces, are magnificent works, which in earlier centuries were often presented by governments and monarchs to leading diplomats and military victors as gifts that glorified and honoured both the giver and the recipient of the service. As works that might have significant diplomatic or commemorative functions, elements within the table service, particularly a centrepiece, might often depict or reference real events and places. For instance, the central ornament of the Portuguese Service, presented to the Duke of Wellington in 1816 by the grateful monarch and nation of Portugal, shows the Four Continents paying tribute to the united armies of Britain, Portugal and Spain.
The Wallace Service celebrates James Wallace's city of Auckland by its representation of a number of Auckland icons including Bean Rock Lighthouse, the Harbour Bridge and Rangitoto. Within the Auckland, and indeed the New Zealand arts community, James Wallace himself is an iconic figure as a collector and patron. It is fitting that his generous patronage of the arts has, as a result of commissioning this magnificent table service, created a rare, if not unique opportunity, for a contemporary New Zealand silversmith.