Sunday, 24 January 2016

Celts: art and identity - British Museum (and Mesopotamia and Egypt: faith after the pharaohs)

I've spent quite a bit of time at the British Museum this weekend! Went to the Celts exhibition on Friday night (late opening on Fridays) and the Egypt: faith after the pharaohs exhibition yesterday. It was much busier than on Friday and I had 2 hours before the entry time on my exhibition ticket so I explored the Mesopotamia and Ancient Iran sections which were amazing and I was so glad that I had been forced to explore the permanent collections. I can be quite rushrush rush  sometimes, in and out, catch the temporary exhibition while it's there, intend to look at permanent stuff another time because it will still be there later. That kind of thinking can lead to missing out on amazing things.

One of my highlights in the Celts exhibition was the carnyx, a metal boar on a stick for intimidating the enemy with sound in battle. I believe there'd be a lot of them making a lot of sound. They had a recording you can listen to. I drew one ( above) at home, using Google and my memory and creative licence (no photography allowed in the exhibition).

There were piles of torcs too. A torc is a metal ring around the neck necklace that Celtic people wore. Many looked incredibly heavy and uncomfortable but beautiful. Complicated twists of gold, some very chunky, some delicately decorated with etched lines and dots.

My favourite objects had the most delicate subtle decoration of thin lines and dots. I'm a line and dot fan.

Speaking of lines... the Mesopotamia section is filled with tablets and pots covered in cuneiform, which I think is the first writing and it is beautiful. So amazing looking at all these incredibly old, incredibly beautiful objects.

And there was once a proper library of tablets! This guy teamed up (maybe a king) and got all the knowledge they could get written down and stored! Then there was a war and the library was burnt. Some of the tablets in this case are burnt and warped.

This incredible carving is in the Ancient Iran section. I think it is from a wall in a palace in Persepolis. It is massive and so beautiful.

The Egypt exhibition was very crowded on Saturday but very interesting. Egypt has a fascinating religious history. But my favourite part was right at the end they displayed 3 colourful children's tunics and the label said that the decoration had no religious affiliation so there is no way of knowing what religion these children were, we only know that they were Egyptian.

I like the sentiment that we are all people and while we may differ on many things we also share many things.

Feels so good to be learning and exploring again. Thank you British Museum!

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