I’ve just come back from a weekend in Birmingham. Sadly I missed the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter as it was closed, but I did pop into the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
I defy anyone not to be moved by their collection of Pre-Raphaelites. What I wouldn’t give to have Titian hair like Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s Beata Beatrix!
But it is a detail from another painting, Ford Madox Brown’s The Last of England, that has stayed with me. Those that know me well will know just why.
I was also hugely excited to be able to see the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold that’s ever been found. I remember reading about it in the paper after it was discovered in a field in 2009 by a metal detector enthusiast. Totalling some 3,500 pieces or a combined weight of five kilos of gold – this treasure really is the stuff of childhood dreams.
Who were the goldsmiths who created these intricate, inlaid garnet cloisonne’ masterpieces over one thousand years ago? What was life like for them? Who were their loved ones? What were their hopes and dreams? The mind boggles.