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Fish slice

Fish slice

  • Place of origin:

    Edinburgh (made)

  • Date:

    1998 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Whitelaw, Julie, born 1955 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Sterling silver, gold wire

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Professor B. Seymour Rabinovitch

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This piece creates an unusual fusion between the modern and the ancient. The utilitarian lines of the server evoke a futuristic presence, enhanced by the regular piercing of lunettes defined by impressed gold wire and the ribbed hollow handle made of 28 soldered segments. However a primeval essence is conjured through the arching handle, the simple navette shape of the blade and the raised rib which joins the two like a spine. The textured surface (bevelled and hammered) and rich gold that embellish the piece enhance the vitality and natural feel of the piece. The server captures the form of a strange marine organism with discordant overtones of a modern appliance.

Physical description

The server blade,of long oval shape with straight rear edge, is a hammered sheet with a projecting tang that enters a hollow handle, where it is soldered and pinned. The blade is pierced over the whole surface with lunettes, each emphasized by an impressed gold wire; it is strengthened by a long upper surface rat tail. The blade underside is uniformly chased with small rounds. All edges of the blade are bevelled. The handle is in the form of a forward arching horn made of halves from 0.7 mm sheet and soldered together. The surface of this structure is covered with twenty eight segments of narrow, overlapping, hammered bands, each edged with gold wire. The horn is closed with a cap covered with textured gold leaf.

Place of Origin

Edinburgh (made)


1998 (made)


Whitelaw, Julie, born 1955 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Sterling silver, gold wire

Marks and inscriptions

Edinburgh hallmarks for 1998

Mark of Julie Whitelaw


Length: 24 cm, Weight: 582 g

Object history note

Historical significance: Whitelaw revels in the possibilities of silversmithing, inspired by the textural properties of silver. In this piece the structure of the design is the most striking feature creating a dramatic three-dimensional piece.

Historical context note

Part of a collection of fish slices commissioned by Professor Rabinovitch from contemporary North American and British makers.

Descriptive line

Silver and gold, Edinburgh hallmarks for 1998, mark of Julie Whitelaw

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Benton Seymour Rabinovitch and Helen Clifford, Contemporary Silver, commissioning, designing, collecting, London, Merrell, 2000, pp. 94-5. ill. ISBN. 1858941040

Labels and date

This collection of silver slices, all commissioned over a period of twenty years by Professor Benton Seymour Rabinovitch FRS, is proof of the skill and diversity of contemporary silversmiths. Each artist craftsman has responded to the familiar functional form of the slice in an individual way, producing an astonishingly diverse range of interpretations. Each piece becomes an enchanting, decorative work of art. Professor Rabinovitch established a close rapport with each artist, always encouraging a freedom of creative expression. The response of these silversmiths has been not only to be strikingly imaginative but also to honour him by giving him their best work.

This collection is testimony to the significant contribution that one individual can make to supporting the craft of silversmithing. After commissioning work from some of the most illustrious names in British and North American silversmithing, Professor Rabinovitch has very generously donated his entire collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum, through the American Friends of the V&A. [2005]


Silver; Gold


Piercing; Bevelling; Soldering


Metalwork; Eating; Scotland


Metalwork Collection

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