Pattern as patina
Iron Age ‘kintsugi’ from East Yorkshire
in Images in the making
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This chapter concerns two forms of repair that originate from two distinct traditions of mending with very different histories, geographies and time spans. The primary focus of the chapter is on decorated Iron Age metalwork from East Yorkshire (UK), an assemblage of objects dating to between approximately 350 BCE and 100 CE, which contains frequent examples of use, damage, repair and modification. New evidence on the uses of these objects is presented, and it is argued that viewing their repairs and modifications from the perspective of kintsugi, a Japanese art form thought to have been established during the late fifteenth century, might allow new understandings of Iron Age metalwork to be reached. With particular focus on the aesthetics of repair, it is demonstrated that the accretion of different decorative patterns and contrasting components on some Iron Age objects was a mode of emphasising repairs and modifications and making the changes in the values and functions of these objects visible. The repairs were meant to be seen and formed aspects of patinas of age and imperfection, that added value to the objects, and perhaps also served mnemonic functions.

Images in the making

Art, process, archaeology


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