Contemporary art at The Wallace Collection gets historical with goldsmith Kevin Coates

By Mark Sheerin | 15 June 2011
Photo of a page of manuscript with gold leaf and a sketch of Marcel Proust
Kevin Coates, Preparatory work for 'Umbra'© Kevin Coates
Exhibition: Time Regained: works by artist-goldsmith Kevin Coates, Wallace Collection, London, June 23 – September 25 2011

Contemporary art shows take place every two years at the Wallace Collection. You may remember the last in 2009. It was a controversial exhibition of paintings by Damien Hirst. But now the historic West London museum is back on more familiar ground with an exhibition of goldsmithery by one of the artform’s best known living exponents.

Kevin Coates may not be a household name, but he does have four years’ worth of passionate interest in the Collection to recommend him. Inspirations for the current show range from suits of Gothic armour, renaissance pottery known as Maiolica, baroque porcelain from Meissen, furniture by Boulle and, like Hirst, painting.

Proving he is as versatile as the former YBA, Coates combines jewellery with mixed-media painting and table-top sculpture. And his creative interpretations of such treasures of the past are sure to generate renewed interest in the originals.

Other work here will include commissions for 10 Downing Street (St George Centrepiece), the V&A (Athene Noctua brooch) and Lichfield Cathedral (St Chad Loving cup). And at least four more key works from Coates’ career have been assembled for Time Regained.

None of these have grabbed the headlines quite like a £50 million diamond-encrusted skull (Hirst’s own best-known foray into jewellery). But Coates’ affinity with the gallery could make for an absorbing and rewarding show.

  • Open 10am-5pm. Admission free.

Visit Mark Sheerin’s contemporary art blog and follow him on Twitter.
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