“The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games medals” Exhibition – London, The British Museum, 8th February – 9th September 2012
In the recent months, countless numbers of important experts, columnists, and journalists have assembled their mental efforts on the forthcoming Olympic Games in Londonby discussing every single detail or stunning athletes’ foible.
No one thought to display this event from an unusual point of view: the medals and their meaning.
The BritishMuseumdid it by presenting a small collection of Games medals to its visitors from 8th February to 9th September 2012 in the Room 37.
Although the Games have a history over two thousand years long, the first official edition started in 1869 inAthensthrough the inspiration of the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
From the first exhibit, the mesmerizing, glittering light of the medal draws completely the visitors’ attention, but a watchful eye cannot also help noticing how much the competitions have changed during the ages.
Edward Marston Farmer won the competition in a singular sport: tilting cap – a horseman wearing a special cap used a lance to unhook small ring hanging from a crossbar.
The prize respects the usual medal design by containing, on the upper side, an inscription in relief which reports the name of the activity and representing, in the central part, a draw of the sport – in this case a proud cavalryman wielding his lance.
In the following window, the curators thought to commemorate the last British Games edition set in Londonin the 1948.
A poster dominates the visitors’ view – on the background it reproduces the famous image of Westminster with the towering presence of the Big Ben, while the figure on the foreground represents a copy of the “Discobulus”, or “Discus thrower”, created by the ancient Greek sculptor Myron, and consisting of a nude athlete throwing a discus.
Below the banner there are different medals created by the artist Bertram Mackennal in 1908 London Games, but the best piece is the Stoke Mandeville victory medal used in 1984.
The medal is still hung to its original blue-white-red ribbon, and the image on it is charged with meaning – the world is completely encircled by a chain of wheelchairs symbolizing the deep tie among the people having disabilities without skin, colour, or ethnic difference.
Subsequently the exhibition focuses on the 2012 medals draft made by the authors, David Watkins and Lin Cheung.
The Rio Tinto company supported the event, supplying and processing the materials used to forge the prizes, and the window contains some sample of coarse silver and gold.
But only in the centre of the hall, between a hysterical music background of clicking cameras and buzzing children with astonished dreaming glances, the visitors can enjoy of the best pieces of the exhibition – the official 2012 Olympic Games medals.
The works of Watkins will be used to award the winning athletes of the Olympic Games – the artist focused on the traditional spirit of the event by reproducing the image of Nike, the Greek deity personifying the Victory.
While the second work represents the logo chosen byLondonauthority, which consists of a stylized depiction of the number 2012 with the Olympic Rings embedded within zero.
At first sight the idea for Paraolympic medals can appear confused and meaningless – a host of corrugated line tilted from the left side to the right side – but really they hide a deep significance.
Lin Cheung wanted to represent the wings of the deity because they evoked ‘togetherness at an historical event where athletes, spectators and the spirit of the Nike are united as one’.
Despite its limited space, the visitors do not waste time to have a look of this part of the Room 37.
The exhibition plunges them into 2,600 years of astonishing sports history by discovering all ancient noble significance of the Games – the reverence of the deity, the respect of the rules, the struggle of the competition, and the honour of the opponent.