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Local silversmith's work to adorn PM's desk


Cara Murphy with Rupert Hambro, Chairman of The Silver Trust.

Cara Murphy with Rupert Hambro, Chairman of The Silver Trust.

A HILLSBOROUGH silversmith's work is set to adorn the desk at Number Ten.

Artist Cara Murphy's work, entitled 'Contour', will be given pride of place on Prime Minister David Cameron's desk in Downing Street.

This exquisite work of art, which has taken three years to complete, uses a combination of sterling silver, Wenge wood and enamel to bring a littde bit of the beauty of Northern Ireland to the PM's desk.

The set features a classic rectangular silver tray, a clock and blotter with four beautiful pieces of Wenge wood from Hillsborough furniture maker Jeremy Suffern.

Cara was commissioned by The Silver Trust will provide the first piece from Northern Ireland in its Downing Street Collection.

Her father Michael McCrory, also a silversmith, and mother Deirdre, a printmaker and enamel artist, also gave their daughter a guiding hand.

Before the work was presented it had already crossed the Irish Sea eight times to undergo various processes including hallmarking, polishing and engraving.

Cara, a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and an Associate Lecturer at the University of Ulster, presented her creation to Rupert Hambro, chairman of trustees of The Silver Trust, at a reception at Hillsborough Castle on May 23.

"I'm inspired by nature and the landscape," said Cara. "By using enamel, I've introduced colour and I experimented extensively with shades of green to get the perfect combination. We literally had 40 shades of green in the workshop before making the final choice.

"The Silver Trust liked that I used wood with my work and were keen that the piece also included some of my mother's enamelling. The enamelling is a very exciting addition to my work and something that I plan to incorporate in other projects," she added.

Cara, who studied at Glasgow School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London, first received this prestigious commission in 2008 when the Silver Trust exhibited its collection at Hillsborough Castle during August Craft Month.

She then received a Major Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, which provided £15,000 funding, some of which was used to purchase materials needed for the commission.

The Silver Trust is a charity that promotes the art of British silversmiths. In 1993, the Trust had put together a collection which was presented to the then Prime Minister, John Major.

The Trust specified that the piece needed four elements — a blotter, a space to hold note paper, a pen holder and an area for a clock and little trays to hold paper clips and other small items.

"When I first got the commission, I had to envision what the desk looked like and how the Prime Minister would use the set," said Cara.

"After many drawings, models and sleepless nights I came up with the final design. It is striking but not overpowering and has the ability to be manipulated and changed by the Prime Minister."

Cara's work was praised by Joe Kelly, Director of Craft Northern Ireland, at the event at Hillsborough Castle. "Cara is an excellent ambassador for craftspeople across Northern Ireland. For this wonderful piece to be displayed in such an important and prominent location recognises the excellence of Cara's work and the reputation of craft makers in Northern Ireland.

Ulster Star