One was a small golden model of a boat made during the Iron Age in the 1st Century BC, part of the Broighter Hoard. It is what I would have - before this visit - thought of as a strikingly contemporary design. Its simplicity of form and exquisite aesthetic made my mouth water and my heart melt. It was not even as big as my hand, delicate and unbearably beautiful. If I saw this in a jewllers window in Barcelona or London today I would marvel at its contemporary design. How can something this old look so funky? What is it that travels so well through time? And what does this say about 'cutting edge' art today?
|Golden model of a boat from the Broighter Hoard, 1st Century BC|
|Bronze cauldron from Castlederg, County Tyrone. Late Bronze Age.|
The ancient vessel form and the simple clarity of the repetitive rivets give it a powerful presence that, quite literally, took my breath away.
These two objects, along with the fine examples of Bronze Age golden jewellery, left me with an overwhelming sense of our commonality. It was simple to see, indeed to feel, the unbroken thread of humanity through all these works.
|Gold gorget. Late Bronze Age.|
To imagine oneself as a woman, or man, in 900 BC wearing these decorations, to desire them in the same way, to know that wish to adorn ones body and make a statement about power, beauty and priviledge. To look through the eyes of an artisan in 100 BC making a simple object of beauty and deep symbolism, to see through their eyes and witness the mark of their hands. And to see how - despite all our scientific and technological advances, all our modernity, our creativity and artistic advances - a simple crafted object from 2,000 years ago can look so incredibly contemporary! That strikes to my very soul and I dont think I will ever look at my own practice in the same way again.