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Fish slice

Fish slice

  • Place of origin:

    East Harling (made)
    London (hallmarked)

  • Date:

    1989 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Kelly, Rod, born 1952 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Sterling silver, partially gilt

  • 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

The trowel-shaped blade is exquisitely detailed with low-relief chasing, a hallmark of the artist. Inspired by the flowing lines of natural forms Kelly uses delicate plant motifs inlaid with gold. The curved handle completes the elegantly natural proportions. Although the detailing is luxuriant in its romantic, swirling style it is contained within clearly delineated borders, tempering its exuberance. The subtle ridge running through the blade becomes more pronounced in the handle casting one half of the slice in shadow enhancing the depth of the chasing. The sharpness of ridge is beautifully offset by the round endpiece.

Physical description

The textured, forged trowel blade is pointed and has sharply turned shoulders on a generously rounded contour. The blade is domed and is dramtically chased with a sensuous envelopping fish (trout) that rides on the pierced, swirling foam. The hollow box handle, made in nine pieces, rests on an angular, vertical lift construction and shows a fish half buried in the rippling sea.

Place of Origin

East Harling (made)
London (hallmarked)


1989 (made)


Kelly, Rod, born 1952 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Sterling silver, partially gilt

Marks and inscriptions

London hallmarks for 1989

Mark of Rod Kelly


Length: 34 cm, Weight: 326 g

Object history note

Historical significance: The piece was stimulated in part by an exhibition at Goldsmiths' Hall in 1995. The artist was motivated to create a freer more personal design, evocative of his childhood memories, particularly his mother's baking. Kelly reveals his connection with the Arts and Crafts Movement through his eschewing of highly polished surfaces in favour of visible hammer marks, high-lighting the relationship between design and manufacture.

Historical context note

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

Descriptive line

Silver, parcel-gilt, London hallmarks for 1989, mark of Rod Kelly.

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

Helen Clifford, Contemporary Silver, commissioning, designing, collecting, (Merrel) 2000, p. 58

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


Chasing; Piercing; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Sea; Fish


Metalwork; Eating


Metalwork Collection

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