The Silver Ship For The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Ursae Ltd. was commissioned to create two sculptures for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, at the site of William Shakespeare’s family home, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of his death in 1616.

The sculptures were part of the 5.35million pound redevelopment of Shakespeare’s family home 1597 -1616, on Chapel Street in Stratford-Upon-Avon. The public garden where the sculptures are located was designed to commemorate the importance of the site and allows visitors to make their own personal connection with Shakespeare.

The commissioned artworks throughout the site evoke Shakespeare’s life and achievements; some expressing a sense of his family life and others hinting at his major works, written during the 19 years he lived at New Place. The pieces produced provide a subtle insight to the creativity, education and knowledge of the world-renowned playwright.

The sculptures produced by Rupert Todd and Benjamin Ryan of Ursae Ltd. utilize a myriad of craft skills, techniques and new technologies to help bring the art pieces to fruition. The designs incorporate the use of a number of computer aided design programs, and cutting edge manufacturing process including; 3D rapid prototyping, CNC 5-axis laser cutting, CNC machine turning and milling, and 3-axis Water-Jet Cutting. The ship’s manufacture also saw many traditional hand fabrication techniques as well as state of the art centrifugal vacuum casting and larger scale gravity casting processes.

The Silver Ship was designed to create a literal and engaging piece of sculpture that could be easily understood and admired be persons of all ages. The ship is suspend almost magically from fine wires supported by a bronze cradle, and is an accurate scale model, based on Elizabethan ship plans the circa 1600. The glimmering galleon harks back to the mystifying unscathed ship from the Tempest play, which was conceived and written by Shakespeare where the sculpture is located.

The Silver Ship is a sculptural expression of the wonder inherent in, and produced by, many of Shakespeare’s works.  As the ship from The Tempest, magically suspended at the moment of discovery, it carries forth the magical realism that brings the captivatingly fantastical into the everyday throughout the famed bard’s oeuvre.  This thematic trend runs strongly through his work, and whilst having roots in the thoroughly Tudor conflation between the real and the magical, it has ironically kept many works relevant for modern audiences.

In order to represent the ship from the Tempest as accurately as possible, Ursae consulted heavily with the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London. As ship plans from circa 1600 are extremely rare/non-existent, the ship was based upon one of the few vessels restored from that era. The restoration and model plans of the ‘Golden Hind’ provided the necessary foundation for the ship’s design. Artistic licence included cannons removed from the upper decks, and customised wall relief, befitting the King’s Ship, which was procedurally scripted using Grasshopper software, allowing a precise computer modelled piece to be generated iteratively using the same flexible logic that would be used by an Elizabethan shipwright.

As the piece was to be a perfect scale model, thousands of hours were spent by Rupert Todd and Ben Ryan 3D CAD modelling all the individual components of the ship. To create a sense of magic, the ship was designed to be hung in a cradle of 3mm thick stainless steel wires. This meant that manufacturing processes had to be altered in order to make sure the piece was bottom heavy. These alterations meant the ship needed to be 3D printed from the CAD files created, on one of the world’s largest stereolithography 3D printers, The Mammoth Printer by Materialise. This in turn required CTI – Castings Technologies International, who are part of the AMRC – Advance Manufacturing Research Centre, to undergo with one of their most complex one off casting programmes ever, pushing the boundaries of casting to its limits. Months of analysis and adjustments were made to the original CAD files by Ursae, after feedback from analysis software Magma 5.0, in order to minimise potential casting failures.

The project required thousands of man hours to bring to reality, and included hand finishing and fettling hundreds of parts. The smaller intricate pieces on the ship were 3D printed by Ursae Ltd.’s sister company Wax-Masters Ltd, in high quality 25 micron resolution directly castable wax, which were then cast in brass by AA Fine Castings. All the parts were then cleaned up, laser welded if necessary, drilled and tapped, and blasted or polished by Ursae. The highly complex project represents Ursae’s dedication and commitment to design, quality and finish.

The opportunity to mirror and pay homage to Shakespeare and his works is an endeavour we are honoured to be a part of. As craftsmen, artists, and designers, we use all of the skills and technology at our disposal to create works which marry carefully considered aesthetics with function, be that function purely practical, conceptual, or emotionally evocative. Using beautiful craftsmanship to express underlying truths, narrative and meaning, is just as important to us in our metalsmithing and sculpture as it is to a wordsmith. Hopefully the art piece will not only give an insight to Shakespeare and his life in an educational capacity, but also help inspire future generations, by igniting the imaginations and creativity of the millions of people, both young and old that come to see it, in an innovative, enjoyable and engaging way.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Over the last year Ursae has been working on two extremely prestigious sculptures for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Ursae’s expertise in bespoke high end luxury goods, landed them with the task to produce two of the sites most detailed and complex pieces.

The sculptures are part of the 5.35million pound redevelopment of Shakespeare’s family home 1597 -1616, on Chapel Street in Stratford Upon Avon.

The garden has been designed to commemorate the importance of the site and allows visitors to make their own personal connection with Shakespeare.

When Shakespeare bought New Place he was an established playwright and it is believed that he wrote his later plays there, including The Tempest.

One can follow in Shakespeare’s footsteps through a new entrance on the site of the original gatehouse and enjoy a contemporary landscape that reveals the footprint of the Shakespeare family home. The re-imagined site gives an impression of the scale of New Place and relationship to the surrounding buildings; such as the neighbouring King Edward VI School and Guild Chapel that were once attended by a young Shakespeare.

The commissioned artworks and displays throughout the site will evoke a sense of family life and hint at Shakespeare’s major works that were written during the 19 years he owned New Place.

Ursae’s role in this special project was to create a Terrestrial Globe depicting the knowledge of Elizabethan period, giving an insight to what Shakespeare and his peers believed the world to look like at that point in time. Showing the world as known by the court of Queen Elizabeth in 1600, and based upon the first English world map, it exhibits both the surprisingly expansive knowledge of the seas, and the focused provincial mindset of the Tudor elite.  The unknown world is dark and disturbing, while the known is bright, shining and anglocentric.

In addition an extremely detailed Sculpture of a Silver Ship is being created. The ship will suspend almost magically from fine wires supported by a bronze cradle. The perfect glimmering galleon harks back to the mystifying unscathed Ship from the Tempest play.

Royal Commission For HRH Princess Anne

Award winning designer, jeweller and silversmith Ben Ryan recently received one of his most prestigious commissions yet – to design and produce The Perpetual Master’s Badge for HRH The Princess Royal on behalf of The Worshipful Company of Saddlers, one of the City of London’s oldest Livery companies. Ben was recommended by the Goldsmiths’ Company, as a possible candidate to undertake the prestigious commission, and his design was chosen by committee from a number of entries submitted by various artists. After months of work, the badge was presented to Her Royal Highness where she was made The Perpetual Master of The Saddlers’ Company at the Installation Court ceremony held in its magnificent livery hall. This title only ever goes to a member of the Royal family, and The Princess Royal will retain it for life.

The unique badge is made from a mixture of materials including 18 carat white and yellow gold, enamel, sapphires and diamonds. The settings that hold the stones have been designed in an open scallop set fashion, echoing the U-shaped form of a horseshoe, allowing maximum light to reach each and every stone. The design itself displays The Saddlers’ company crest sporting their motto ‘hold fast, sit sure’, whilst the open fretwork allows the piece to be substantial in size without being too heavy to wear. Positioned above the badge is the solid blue royal cypher finished off in the style of the badge with sapphires and diamonds around its perimeter edge and this, in turn, is attached to a ribbon made by Ede & Ravenscroft, London’s oldest tailor.

HRH The Princess Royal’s affiliation with the equestrian world makes her the ideal person to be The Perpetual Master of The Saddlers’ Company, which supports, encourages and promotes the British saddlery industry, not least to ensure its equipment is made to the highest possible standards for the safety and comfort of both the horse and the rider. The Saddlers’ Company has only ever had two previous Perpetual Masters – Frederick, Prince of Wales from 1737 to 1751 and Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, from 1906-1952.

Nigel Lithgow, The Clerk to The Saddlers’ Company, said: “We are absolutely delighted with Ben’s work, which has gone down extremely well with our members. The piece he produced is beautiful. It is marvellously well crafted and a credit to him. We were keen to help encourage a young, relatively up and coming silversmith. He was recommended by The Goldsmiths’ Company and we hope Ben’s success will help boost his standing in the future.”

Commenting on his commission, Ben says: “It was a real honour and privilege to have been selected to design and produce such a rare piece of work for one of the great Livery companies. As this was only the third ever Perpetual Master’s Badge in the Saddlers’ Company’s extensive history, I felt a real sense of responsibility – and as it was being designed for HRH The Princess Royal it was very important that the piece was elegant and of the highest quality. After all the weeks of careful planning and manufacture, I was personally very pleased with the outcome, and doubly so after the positive comments and praise I received from both The Saddlers’ Company and The Princess Royal herself.”

Craftsmanship & Design Awards 2015

We just wanted to say a huge thank you to all the judges who picked our design as the winner of the Computer Aided Design section at this years Craftsmanship & Design Awards ‪#‎JewelleryOscars‬ @GCADC.‬

We are doubly excited to announce that two bespoke products from some of Ursae’s commissioned work were also exhibited at the awards, receiving awards in the 3D Finished Pieces – Smallworkers Section.‪#‎JewelleryOscars‬ @GCADC.‬

Christie’s Auction House!

We are really excited to announce that we currently have a selection of pieces for sale in Christie’s Auction House, London! The sale is hosting 61 of some of the best silversmiths from the CBS (The Contemporary British Silversmiths Society) and has an assortment of 186 pieces available for purchase ranging from £570.00 up to £48000.00

The sale is currently live and in a ‘Buy it now’ type format. All the work is truly amazing and must really be seen in the flesh. The work itself is displayed in Christies main exhibition hall at: 8 King Street London, SW1Y 6QT. It is well worth a trip to go and see, and in a beautiful part of London too, and open seven days a week.

Official Royal Opening Of The Goldsmiths’ Centre

We are honoured to share some special images from the official Royal opening of the Goldsmiths’ Centre, featuring the Ursae Directors Ben Ryan & Rupert Todd, the Director of the Goldsmiths’ Institute Peter Taylor, Prime Warden Goldsmiths’ Company Hector Miller, Trustee Martin Drew Drury, Dr. Stuart Devlin and HRH Princess Alexandra.