2019 – 925 silver and 18ct gold gilded inside.HDW Torso: 60 x 40 x 38 mm / Spoon: 82 x 15 x 4 mm
This work questions our understanding of value, specifically in relation to female labor. The word ‘Salary’ derives from the roman soldiers being paid in blocks of slat. ‘Sal’ in Latin is salt. Salt was an extremely valuable material which was only available to the rich – hence the sayings ‘above the salt’ and ‘below the salt’ in reference to social class. This is why salt cellars were made very elaborately with precious metals and sometimes gemstones. Investigating this further, I was invited to handle salt cellars from the 15th century to the present day at both the Goldsmiths vault and the V&A collection. Through my investigation, I thought it was curious that salt cellars were made of silver – as salt corrodes this metal. The cellars were often gold gilded in the inside, and that why this piece is too.
The isolated section of the lower torso that I have chosen for the salt cellar is in reference to the percentage difference that women are paid less than men. But also, this is looking at the early votive fertility objects that depicted voluptuous women in focus of their thighs. For centuries, the female form in this shape - and often missing limbs or a head, almost a focus on the female as a vessel for the child or for its physical attributes, has been shown in art collections and museums.
The spoon has an 'S' pierced out with tiny holes, evocative of the common salt shakers which you could find at a local café. This spoon, when used, loses a percentage of salt. Think about the loss. How valuing women’s labor as lesser effects everyone in society. Women, worldwide are still paid between 30-60% less than men.
Salary salt cellar