Treasured City, the latest exhibition from artist Luke Jerram, opened at Scunthorpe’s 20-21 Visual Arts Centre on Saturday 18 February to a bumper crowd of over 2,000.
The exhibition invites the public to go on the hunt for five solid gold artefacts hidden in Scunthorpe and North Lincolnshire. Within an hour of the exhibition opening, over 350 people had come through the doors wanting to be among the first to see the clues to the whereabouts of the gold, concealed within five unique paintings.
The five artefacts are solid 18 carat gold replicas of items Luke has chosen from the collection at North Lincolnshire Museum.
Three of the Treasured City artefacts have already been found.
The first artefact found – a Viking trefoil brooch – was discovered almost by accident. A woman from Grimsby had seen the paintings in the gallery and decided that the paintings were too difficult to solve and instead went searching in the town without the clues.
She saw the Green Flag Award flying at Kingsway Gardens and took the word ‘winner’ printed on the flag as a sign. She found the brooch in a gap the dry stone wall nearby.
The painting – featuring golden arrows on a green background – guided treasure hunters to the location by spelling ‘in-the-gardens-seven-meters-from-the-flag-is-the-kingsway’ using semaphore flag symbols.
The second item to be found was the Roman ram. A teacher from Beverley had come across to Scunthorpe for the exhibition and then spent the day fruitlessly searching the town after deciphering one of the clues.
Later that night, having looked online for other places in North Lincolnshire that fit her clue, she realised the gold must be in Brigg. She hot-footed it back across the bridge and found the artefact in a gap between the bricks at the base of Brigg’s Bandstand.
Described in the exhibition as the easiest clue to crack, the words in this painting spell out the phrase ‘Octagonal-Place-To-Listen-To-A-Golden-Sink-Plunger’ and refer to the bandstand and The Angel statue’s golden horn.
The third object was then found on Sunday evening (19 February). A group of four adults and two children from Burton-upon-Stather and Normanby village (near Scunthorpe) were searching Normanby Hall Country Park looking for the Roman ram. They had found the word ‘octagonal’ in the wordsearch and thought this might refer to the hall’s sundial.
Searching around the sundial and in the nearby sunken park, the group instead found the Tudor fisherwoman.
Despite the gold having been found, eager code breakers are still competing to be the first to crack the code that leads to the fisherwoman.
The three lucky gold hunters now get to decide on a local organisation to keep the painting that provided clues to the treasure. This could be a library, school, hospital or even a local pub.
Luke said, “I’m delighted by the public response. It’s like the whole town has ignited with people searching for the golden artefacts, whether they’ve cracked the codes or not! We’ve had people drive from all sides of the country to visit the exhibition and explore the town.”
There are still two more gold artefacts waiting to be found in North Lincolnshire; a Janus train and an ammonite. The clues can be seen at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Church Square, Scunthorpe, until 29 April 2017.
You can find out more about the Treasured City story so far at www.2021visualartscentre.co.uk/treasuredcity