Flying Gold Cape

Flying Gold Cape, original cape from NMNM costume archive repaired with silk, cotton and metallic thread and cotton patches
by Celia Pym photographs by Michele Panzeri
commissioned by Noveau Musée National de Monaco
with the support of the Gouvernement Princier de Monaco

Spring 2018, together with the photographer Michele Panzeri, I set off on tour with the mended Gold Cape. We stopped in three locations, Blönduós, Iceland, Monaco and Old Kent Road, London. In Blönduós school students processed through town looking for natural beauty and dramatic landscapes to set the scene; the cape was worn by the members of a local craft club; a farmer posed with it, her farm as the background, and a weaver wore it on the deck of her studio. At Cap Fleuri, Monaco’s retirement home, music played and people wore the Gold Cape and sang, performing for each other, with those observing occasionally joining in and singing too; care assistants wore it in the garden; museum staff wore it at work; at the Opéra Garnier, it’s original home, caped figures stood on the stage and in the auditorium for their moment in the limelight. And in London, primary-school children drew imaginary capes and then dressed up in the Gold Cape itself and paraded with serious faces in the school, photographing each other, and in the playground running with it, so that the cape flew out behind them.

Sixty-three people from Blönduós, Monaco and London wore the cape. It became more damaged with fragments of silk flying away at each stop. It is thinner now and more well-worn. It has had to be re-repaired. The Gold Cape has had a second, wholly unexpected life just as varied and extraordinary as its first, echoes of which can now be heard.