Gold Leaf
7m / 23ft Diameter
Pittenweem Arts Festival - 2005
Pittenweem Harbour, Fife, Scotland


Golden Age in the fishing village of Pittenweem, Fife, Scotland, was commissioned by the Scottish Arts Council (Now Creative Scotland), as part of the 2005 Pittenweem Arts Festival.

Consisting of a seven metre disc created from over 6000 squares of gold leaf applied by hand to a concreted area of the ancient harbour wall, Golden Age, Pittenweem, occupies a liminal realm between the material and the immaterial: on the one hand, the ultimate symbol of worldly wealth, and on the other, an expression of mans spirituality.  The title refers to a prophesied ideal “Golden Age”, a new era of enlightenment, an as-yet intangible future state, where mankind unites in brotherhood to find peace within them-self and between nations.

The gilded surface reflects the ever-changing light of the Scottish coastline, making its appearance hardly distinguishable from some angles and brightly radiant from others. Anchored to the ground whilst open to the sky and elements, Golden Age acts as a point where the heavenly meets the earthly.

Robb hopes Golden Age will lead us to consider what might we achievable in the future if mankind could better balance his material desires with his spiritual needs. Golden Age recalls the gold halo characteristic of much sacred art, as well as the golden aura used to represent spirituality in many cultures. Robb similarly explores gold's capacity for raising human aspirations and consciousness.

The work makes reference to Yves Klein's Zone de Sensibilité Picturale Immatérielle (1959). In this performance, collectors bought a cheque in exchange for gold. The buyer would then be encouraged to burn the cheque whilst Klein threw the gold into the river, both destroying and creating the artwork simultaneously in an attempt to produce the ultimate immaterial work of art using the materiality of gold and money.

Informed by economic theories of wealth creation and distribution, a nod to the artist’s education in Economics and Economic History, Golden Age was conceived as an ongoing project to deliver a series of pure gold leaf installations to uncover a sense of the sacred in the everyday and uplift the mind toward the spiritual.

Gold is an inert substance not effected by salt, water or weather. However, Golden Age, Pittenweem has disintegrated over time, damaged by human contact where passers-by have walk over the gilded surface or bent down to touch it and leave their mark, drawn in by the shining surface and the materiality of gold. The temporal nature of the work is a key part of its power, enacting the process of the material becoming immaterial to function as a time piece of human evolution.