The Goldsmiths Company in London has opened a landmark exhibition at the Goldsmiths' Hall, `Gold: Power and Allure – 4,500 years of gold treasures from across Britain’.
Staged in association with the World Gold Council, ‘Power and Allure’ is the most comprehensive and ambitious ever staged at the Goldsmiths’ Hall. It tells the rich and previously untold story of the working and use of gold in the United Kingdom over the past 4,500 years.
The exhibition is a breathtaking display of 400 gold items dating from 2500BC, to the present day. They include rare and exquisite works of art, pieces of exceptional historic significance and other esoteric, curious or amusing works.
All the exhibits, displayed over three floors at Goldsmiths’ Hall, have been loaned from distinguished institutions and private collections both in the United Kingdom and abroad, and many have rarely been seen in public before.
Historian Dr Helen Clifford, the curator of the exhibition, explains: “Gold: Power and Allure presents the opportunity of a lifetime. The challenge has been to draw together the many strands that make a single precious metal so special and central to human society.
“With the focus on Britain, it has been possible to assemble a story that goes far back into geological time and forward to the most cutting edge goldworking, where this country excels.
In a year which also celebrates HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the exhibition appropriately highlights the long association of gold with Royalty. One of the highlights of the exhibition is the gold ampulla (container for holy oil) used at the Scottish coronation of Charles I at Holyrood House Edinburgh on 18 June 1633. Several items have been loaned to the exhibition from the Royal Collections.
One of the oldest items in the exhibition is the Newark Torc, a 2,000-year-old gold bracelet found in a Nottinghamshire field in 2005. The ornament has been described as the most significant Iron Age find of the last 30 years. It is displayed with other gold torcs found around the UK which reveal the skills of the later Bronze Age and Early Iron Age goldsmiths.
In the year of the London 2012 Olympics it is apt that sporting gold plays an important role in the exhibition. In fact, only four Olympiads used solid gold medals: Two rare examples from 1908 and 1912 are on view.
Other items on display include Horatio Nelson’s snuff box, the Middleham Jewel, a gold court jerkin for the coronation of George IV and a delightful mechanical life-size mouse made in gold and decorated with pearls.
Opening the exhibition, Alderman David Wootton, Lord Mayor of the City of London, said: “Gold has played an incredibly important role in our country’s history and development – commercially, socially and artistically – and is showcased by this stunning exhibition to great effect. I encourage everyone to visit the exhibition and marvel at the many golden wonders of our City – itself, the gold standard for civic and business life.”
‘Gold: Power and Allure’ illustrates that, even today, this most precious metal has the power to captivate audiences with its universally mesmerising allure.
The exhibition is open Monday to Saturday (except Sunday June 24) until 28th July 2012. It coincides with the publication of two books and a specially commissioned piece of music by the young Spanish composer, Francisco Coll: Golden Fanfare.
Entrance is free.