Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery have recently acquired In Motion Whispering Vessel, 2022, by Adi Toch through the Contemporary Art Society Omega Fund.
Adi Toch explores the vessel form through manipulating metal, exploring its conductive, sonic and reflective qualities. She starts with a flat metal sheet and, using different tools, contorts them by hand into the shape she has envisaged. Toch investigates the relationship between people and objects as part of her process, and in the final object she creates. Her work is generally based around the form of the container or vessel, which she sees as a means of communication: they tell stories of gathering, holding and storing. Connecting us to ancient practices, these vessels are often inspired by the forms of ancient Mediterranean archaeological objects
The works in the Whispering Vessel series are hollow and double-layered. They all contain substances like sand or tiny gemstones, which can move freely inside but cannot be emptied. The content is visible from the opening and can be experienced as the vessel is moved, creating sounds or illusive patterns. The vessels exist somewhere between domestic objects like bowls, and percussion instruments. Toch sees sound as a way in which metal communicates, and her interest in this topic is inspired by her experience as a maker, knowing how to respond to the material and adjust her practice from the noise the metal makes when hammered or worked.
From the 16th to the 19th Century, metalworking made up the majority of Birmingham’s industry, making it the centre of metalworking in the UK. The streets would have rung with the sound of hammers hitting anvils, making a large variety of metal objects. In Motion Whispering Vessel will enable Birmingham Museums Trust to explore this aspect of the city’s history in a creative and sensory way, particularly as it looks to develop new displays on Birmingham’s manufacturing heritage. Additionally, Toch’s work will add to Birmingham’s significant collection of Contemporary Metalwork. The Museum and Art Gallery is currently closed for ongoing essential maintenance work, but plans to open in 2024.
Adi Toch (b. Jerusalem, 1979) lives and works in London. Recent group shows include FOG Design and Art San Francisco (2022); The Gilbert Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Crafts Council, London; Sarah Myerscough Gallery, London (all 2021). Toch has been awarded the European Prize for Applied Arts, Master Prize, and the Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Award (2018). Her work is held in several collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, National Museum Scotland, Edinburgh, National Museum Wales, Cardiff and the Jewish Museum, New York.