Also in the August 2012 issue of Money & Medals is a review by Irene Gunston of a medal exhibit at the Kelvin Gallery of the Hunterian, the oldest public museum in Scotland. The exhibition was in conjunction with FIDEM XXXII Glasgow 2012.
The Kelvin Gallery is part of the Hunterian, which is the oldest public museum in Scotland. It was built by the Victorian Neo-Gothic architect Gilbert Scott, the spaces he made are lofty. They catch your attention with their combinations of, what was then, cutting edge modern use of cast iron engineering, and the remains of an older building language, of wood and masonry.
Either side of this splendid gallery, where many of the congress lectures and social events took place, were long, grand illuminated display cases. The medals rested, or were freestanding, on four shallow shelves that ran the lengths of the two cabinets and on the deeper space of the base.
They were gathered together by countries, which were signalled as the change occurred by an elegant sans-serif text accommodated on the front ledge of the shelves. There was an explanatory text about the display, repeated at either end of each case, and the long, clear top space announced FEDERATION INTERNATIONAL DE LA MEDAILLE D’ART, along with a white monochrome sculpted rendition of the medal that Scottish artist Malcolm Appleby produced as this year’s Congress medal.
With the volume of work present, it is difficult to write about just a few of the exhibits. As grouped together by country, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom had a strong presence. Medals such as the Polish artist Katarzyna Adaszewskas’ ‘I Am’ brought a light challenge to the idea of the medal form, a compact statement the ‘obverse’ being forever beyond grasp in an ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’ parallel world, disappearing as the enquirer tries to get a more detailed view, glimpsing what they may or may not perceive ‘they are’.
This display encouraged the viewer to promenade the length of the room and then dart back and forth to refresh and recheck details, artists and countries that caught one’s attention. It was an immersive experience, with a river-like flow, and one that, I am sure, the subsequent unsuspecting visitors to the gallery will find as their first experience of the art medal refreshing and surprising.
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Wayne Homren, Editor
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