Time: May 9, 2012 to June 17, 2012
Location: Velvet da Vinci
Street: 2015 Polk Street
City/Town: San Francisco
Website or Map: http://www.velvetdavinci.com
Phone: 415 441 0109
Event Type: exhibition, opening
Organized By: Velvet da Vinci
Latest Activity: Apr 30, 2012
Tom Hill: Salt Cellars
May 9 through June 17, 2012
Artist’s reception Friday, May 11 from 6 to 8 pm
Exhibition catalog available
Velvet da Vinci is pleased to present Salt Cellars by British artist Tom Hill. This playful flock of birds is Hill’s interpretation of the traditional “salt” common to many British dining tables. The carved and painted wooden birds all open to access a pinch of salt. The bird’s head will lift or hinge, and you can pluck the salt spoon incorporated into the bird’s plummage and season your food.
As Tom says “[their] eyes look up at you from the table , a lively interaction between user and object.”
Salt and Salt Cellars, a potted history…
It is perhaps hard for us to imagine the importance of salt in the past. What seems to us an everyday item was, before modern refrigeration, a vital ingredient in the preservation of food. Roman soldiers were paid in salt ration, hence the words “salary” and “soldier”, vegetables were seasoned to improve flavor, giving us “salad” and, perhaps most deliciously of all, pork is combined with salt to create “salami”.
Salt was a rare and expensive commodity. Salt cellars were lockable to prevent theft and the condiment was presented on ever more elaborate vessels to emphasize the prestige of the grandest tables.
Kings and aristocrats commissioned extravagant salt cellars, known as “nefs” or “Great Salts”. Notable Salts include the amazing example by Benvenuto Cellini depicting Ceres and Neptune and the Exeter Salt owned by Queen Elizabeth the Second, given to King Charles the Second by the City of Exeter in the hope that he would forgive the city’s part in the overthrow and execution of his father (it did the trick). Nefs in the form of golden galleons and silver castles graced the richest tables, creating animated sculptural landscapes to feed both the eye and the stomach.
We still throw spilt salt over our shoulder to blind the devil, give salt cellars as good luck housewarming gifts and describe the most trustworthy people as “the salt of the earth”.