Gold logo for Alchemy, Artefacts Reimagined.

Midas series

Inspired by the Roman glass head from Poole Museum.

Inspiration behind the artwork

The enigmatic face on this medallion is probably Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and revelry. The medallion is thought to have hung from an expensive Roman wine glass.    

The medallion was found during the excavation of a Roman settlement to the north of Poole. Find out more about the Roman glass head here.

Ann-Marie said:

 “The Roman poet Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’, which recounts ancient myths, has been a recurring theme in my practice. So rather than work directly with the glass head, I chose instead to work with imagery from Ovid’s text.

In the myth, Silenus drank too much wine and became lost, so King Midas cared for him. As a reward, Bacchus gave Midas the power of turning everything he touched into gold.”

Artist's techniques

Ann-Marie enlarged sections of text from the tale of Silenus, Bacchus and Midas, from which she produced various silkscreens. She used these screens to build dense compositions on paper, rendering them as layered and ambiguous, reflecting the circumstances in which the Roman glass head was found.

Instead of using ink, Ann-Marie printed in ‘size’ – an adhesive used for gilding. Each layer of text was then gilded with imitation gold leaf.

Close up of the Roman glass head from Poole museum.
Roman glass head which inspired the Midas series.
Lettering in gold leaf, work in progress for Midas artworks.
Work in progress on the Midas series.
Midas artwork, made up of layers of gold lettering.
Midas 4 by Ann-Marie James, 2019. Imitation gold leaf on Arches paper, framed, 76 x 56 cm.
Row of gold artworks in a gallery - the Midas series.
Midas series on display at Poole Museum.

Video of Ann-Marie James at work on the Midas series