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Brighton researcher showcases hi-tech with traditional metalwork crafts

Dr Sarah Silve, 34, of Hodshrove Road, Brighton, a research fellow in the School of Engineering and Design at Brunel University, in Uxbridge, West London, is using her skills to make geometric and mathematical designs in silver and other metals, with the use of lasers.

The results are on display in the exhibition, “Moving Forward: Science, Engineering and Art,“ at the university's Beldam Gallery, until September 8.

“Currently, all my pieces are experimental,“ she explains. “They are all researched beforehand and repeatable. I try to make things that you can't make by any other means.“

The technique, called laser-forming, means the heat from the laser compresses the metal and causes it to bend.

She points out that her objets d'art “are not cheaper, or quicker“ to make “though it depends on what you're creating.“

Laser-forming “can be combined with traditional techniques,“ she said.

Her current project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, is to discover if silversmiths and other artist metalworkers would use this technology, and if so, how they could integrate it into their practice.

“Hopefully, the work will raise awareness of laser-forming among the range of computer-aided drawing and machining options available to designers,“ Sarah added.

“It would be wonderful if the pieces on show happened to engage people and inspire them to work with this technology.“

Her own backround is unusual: she trained as a jeweller before moving into academic research. She completed a BA in Metalwork and Jewellery at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College in 1995 and went on to work as a jeweller for an independent retailer.

She was then invited to join The Laser Group at the University of Liverpool, in 1997, for a project to research the potential of laser-forming for creating designer metalwork.

After she completed her PhD in 2001, Sarah joined Brunel University where she set up a laser facility to continue her research.

Sarah is offering to demonstrate the laser forming process. Anyone interested should contact her: e-mail:; website:

Her work is currently on show in the exhibition, “Moving Forward: Science, Engineering and Art“ at the Beldam Gallery in Brunel University, Cleveland Road, Uxbridge, Middx, until September 8 , 2006 (closed weekends and Bank Holidays). Free. Tel: 01895 266074