Daniel Silver

artist

Joseph Clarke School

London, UK

hands

Photography by Thomas Lohr

“Are the hands more intelligent than the brain?”

In 1994, the Chauvet Caves were discovered in Southern France. Alongside the skulls and bones of wolves and bears that littered the ground, in the darkness of the chambers the walls revealed hundreds of beautifully preserved figurative drawings. John Berger, one of the first people to visit the caves, wrote about the experience, and the intense connection he felt to the person who had placed those marks there in the darkness 32,000 years before: “What the rock told him was that the animals, like everything else that existed, were inside the rock and that he, with his red pigment on his finger, could persuade them to come to the rock’s surface, to brush against it and stain it with their smells.” These ideas; that the rock inherently contains the form the vividness of the darkness allows it to be born and that a connection through art can transcend time or experience, which are relevant to this project.

In 2016, unu O unu ran their first initiative, bringing together Daniel Silver with pupils from the Joseph Clarke School in London – a specialist centre for children with visual impairment and additional needs. Daniel Silver is a London-based artist best known for his figurative sculptures, deeply influenced by the art of ancient Greece, Modernist sculpture, and Freudian psychoanalytic theory. His works stand in concrete, bronze, marble, stone, wood and clay, serving as monuments or totems, as if belonging to an archeological excavation. Like a modern Pygmalion, even within the formal constraints of the stone or clay, his figures seem to speak of the humanity of touch and memories inherited through material.

In discussions with unu O unu at the beginning of project, Daniel said he wanted create a process where pupils could explore form and material, working instinctively in a manner where the omission of sight would heighten the experience. He recounted a conversation he had more than 20 years ago with his tutor, Phyllida Barlow, where he asked, “Are the hands more intelligent than the brain?” In a testimony to this idea, the workshop he ran for the pupils at the Joseph Clarke School began with this question.

Initially, he brought examples of his own work for everyone to feel and discuss, and then he gave out clay to the children, who were aged between 8 and 11, to work with. They began to construct self-portraits through touch and response – first feeling their own faces and then transferring the form to clay. At first it wasn’t straightforward as some children needed help to understand their relationship to the clay, but under guidance this was achieved and they spoke to each other while they were working, describing what they felt and what they were making. After that, they touched and made the face of a classmate, at the same time an intimate yet funny process, and finally they worked independently, making things important to them; Meyrem made a sculpture of her mother, Sam made a black cab from the memory of a toy he had at home, and Kevin worked with Daniel to produce 20 different pieces.

Daniel said at the beginning of the day that watching the children play outside, and the confidence and freedom with which they ran and moved, was empowering for him to see. And then, in the same way that they knew the boundaries of the playground, once they began to work with the clay they had the same natural self-assurance and sensitivity. Their innately tactile understanding of the world translated into form. Whereas sighted people making objects are often very aware of what they are doing and how ‘good’ it is, for the visually impaired children this problem of judgment was immediately bypassed. Throughout the process the staff at the school were incredibly supportive and didn’t interrupt the children’s work, and the children took a great deal of pride in what they made. For both pupils and staff the experience was fascinating and hugely rewarding, and for unu O unu and Daniel, it exemplified that these kinds of participatory activities were meaningful and could lead to genuine exchanges.

After the workshops, 5 of the children’s clay pieces were selected by Daniel, and have been cast in bronze. All of these will be sold with the profits (hopefully £30,000) being used to buy Braille machines that the school currently requires. They would need 7 machines at the cost of £3000 each, so there will be additional money left after the sales to feed back into the school.

Text by Lindsay Sekulowicz

Daniel Silver and Reece01

£960 incl VAT

Daniel Silver and Reece01

Large bronze head finisihed with a classic warm brown bronze patina.

16 cm high × 19 cm long × 9 cm wide

£960 incl VAT




Daniel Silver and Sam

£960 incl VAT

Daniel Silver and Sam

Large bronze head with holes finised with a classic warm brown bronze patina

19 cm high × 13 cm wide at base
Diameter: 14,5 cm

£960 incl VAT




Daniel Silver and Reece02

Sold Out

Daniel Silver and Reece02

Large laying bronze body finished with a classic warm brown bronze patina.

4-8 cm high × 17 cm wide × 26 cm long

£960 incl VAT

Sold Out




Daniel Silver and Reece03

Sold Out

Daniel Silver and Reece03

Small laying bronze body finished with classic warm brown bronze patina

4.5 cm high × 19 cm long × 10 cm wide

£720 incl VAT

Sold Out




Daniel Silver and Shanee made Reece

£960 incl VAT

Daniel Silver and Shanee made Reece

Bronze standing body finished with a classic warm brown bronze patina. (Can be sold as a pair with Reece made Shanee)

15cm high × 20cm long × 12cm wide

£960 incl VAT




Daniel Silver and Reece made Shanee

£720 incl VAT

Daniel Silver and Reece made Shanee

Bronze standing body finished with a classic warm brown bronze patina. (Can be sold as a pair with Shanee made Reece)

13 cm high × 8.5 cm long × 6 cm wide

£720 incl VAT