Diaspora-Artists logo

Hidden Gem

Article relating to a publication, 2012
Published by: Bonhams magazine
Year published: 2012
Number of pages: 6

image of Hidden Gem

In 2005 Hew Locke created one of a number of memorable works, Koh-i-noor. It was one of several monumental portraits of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, and was constructed out of hundreds of kitschy, low value plastic toys and trinkets, products which were to some extent symptomatic of the global economy. As with many of Locke’s works, Koh-i-noor explores the interplay between contemporary British society and its often forgotten bloody, colonial past. The title of Locke’s work refers to the Koh-i-noor diamond, a near-legendary precious stone, dating back to14th-century India. Said to have been. at one time, the largest diamond in the world, the Koh-i-noor passed through the possession of Sikh, Mughal, and Persian rulers, reflective of its prized value  as one of the spoils of successive wars. In 1877 Queen Victoria declared herself to be “the Empress of India”, and the diamond entered the legendary British Crown Jewels collection. Locke’s Koh-i-noor (Mixed media, 2005, 116 x 86 x 25 in. (294.6 x 218.4 x 63.5 cm)is now in the collection of Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles Diamond and bequest of Richard J. Kempe, having been shown in its 2007 Infinite Island exhibition.

This major text, Hidden Gem, appeared in Bonhams magazine, Spring 2012 on pages 28 – 33 and its title referenced what the magazine described as “one of the world’s most impressive diamond necklaces - and it is all the more remarkable for having survived in its original setting.” The feature was written by Katherine Prior and investigated “the extraordinary stories of the maharajahs and their jewels.” As such, this substantial feature provided much in the way of background information on the bloody histories of diamonds such as the Koh-i-noor referenced in Locke’s work.