Work by West Dean MFA alumni Cherie Lubbock

Foundation Degree Arts - Metalwork 2018 - 2021

Henry Ball


What do you consider your biggest achievement to date?

I would say that my biggest achievement so far was being asked to take part on the TV show, Bill Bailey’s Master Crafters’, and as part of that, receiving a commission from HM King Charles III for a piece of silverware to decorate the gardens of his private residence, Highgrove House. I unfortunately couldn’t be there in person to oversee the instalment of the piece, but I hope to pay a visit soon.

Talk us through your career path since graduating.

After graduating from West Dean in 2021, I moved onto the post-graduate silversmithing residency at Bishopsland Educational Trust, where I spent the year taking part in silversmithing masterclasses and sitting in on business lectures with the Goldsmiths’ Centre. I took part in numerous competitions and exhibitions, all of which helped to prepare me for my first year as a self-employed silversmith. When not filming for the tv show, I have spent the remainder of this past year setting up my own workshop from where I can now work on my commission-based jewellery and silverware. I still attend the odd craft fair and exhibition but I’m at my happiest hammering away in my own space.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on designs for a gilded fingerbowl for the silver collection of New College Oxford, and a couple of engagement rings, one in silver and one in platinum. I’ve also got a project ticking over in the background which will soon be an Arabic coffee set with four cups, spoons, and coffee pot, all of which will be chased, and gold plated, and have oryx horn handles. It’s quite a big project and one that I’ve been working on between commissions.

Do you have any tips for recent graduates?

If I had any advice for recent graduates, or for anyone in that matter, I would say that ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’. Ask for placements, ask for visits, ask other makers for tips and tricks and advice. There’s not much that can go wrong and you’ll be surprised how helpful some people can be! Also, if you don’t advertise the mess-ups, people will think you’re doing really well – from what I’ve seen, what makes a successful craftsman is the ability to keep the failures a secret (or at the very least a lesson).

How do you think studying at West Dean College prepared you for what you do now?

If it wasn’t for West Dean, I wouldn’t be working as a silversmith right now. I had never worked with metal before starting my course and had somehow managed to impress the tutors taking my interview with my enthusiasm for making. I learnt a lot on my post-grad course, but it was all just expanding on what I already knew from WD. I think that being given free rein in Goblin Town (the metals department) was the best preparation for self-employment as it allowed me to manage my own time but get the help I needed when I needed it.

What's your favourite memory from your time at the College?

It’s nothing too exciting, but I think my favourite memory from my time at the college is playing catch out on the front lawn with my oil-gilded rugby ball every tea break in my last year. When I added the gold, I hadn’t given much thought as to how reflective it would be in the sunlight and so a simple game of catch was more a game of luck than anything.

Did you have a different career before coming to West Dean? If so why did you change career paths?

As a matter of fact, I think coming to West Dean to study metalwork was career change No 4? Originally I had hoped to be a furniture maker and spent my A levels working on tables and chairs, I then decided I would become a farrier in the Household Cavalry, quickly changed my mind and took up an apprenticeship as a thatcher, then after deciding that being on the top of a roof in the middle of winter was not for me, I figured I’d give metalworking a try. It’s not that I can’t hold down a job, I’ve just always been looking for the one job that doesn’t feel like one. I found just that when I was given a small lump of silver at the end of my first year and knew immediately that I’d found my calling.

Henry studied FdA Metalwork 2018-2021. 

West Dean School of Arts Credit-Thom Atkinson

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