Sunday, 28 April 2013

Pestles and Mortalities: Pompeii and Herculaneum at the British Musem

This post came to me in the aftermath of a host of sensory experiences; the scent of fresh garlicky flavours being pounded out by a granite pestle and mortar, whilst the images of an emotionally exhausting exhibition were still pricking at my eyelids. Though these two seem far apart the connections, inevitably, were there.

The Pompeii exhibition at the British Museum has taken Roman everyday life and made it seem as fresh and modern as if they were walking down the streets now, today, tomorrow. After the pomp and splendour of Hadrian, here the curators have instead focused on living arrangements, family life, relaxation, domestic objects and simply allow us explore what it was like to live in a provincial Roman town. What comes across primarily is the sheer sense of fun and humour; the phallic lamps and good luck charms, playful graffiti and garden ornaments. They are, to modern minds, as unsubtle as they are beautifully crafted.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Passez-moi l'absinthe...

Le banc d’orfèvre
It's time for a change topic wise. I have a summer project to do and guess what? I've chosen another awkward one. The Research Project, we students are told,  'is your first piece of extended, independent research. It draws on the methods, issues and skills that have been raised in the Research Skills seminars and in the Core Course.'

It continues, 'the Research Project is principally concerned with the PROCESS of research rather than solely with the RESULTS of that process. It might have a practical or applied focus, for example, it could be based on a museum or a gallery, an exhibition or arts policy. Or it might focus on a particular work of art that explicitly raises questions of interpretation'.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Tate Britain Print/Drawings: ReTurning to Turner

'Explosion' in the Tate 
On Friday the MA group went on a field trip to the Tate prints and drawings room. It was reminiscent of the visits I made last year to the V&A, RAI, London Met Archives and the various other amazing places who open up their archives for interested people.

It seems obvious when you think about it but Tate Britain is known primarily for its collection of Turner material/resources, including a complete reference collection which they keep up to date. Though his paintings are all over the place, he didn't leave provision in his will for the contents of his studio  - sketchbooks, small preparatory watercolours, juvenilia, etc, so it all came to the Tate. There are many ongoing research projects, including a cataloguing project which was started by John Ruskin, then continued by Turner's biographer, Joseph Finberg. Sadly two thirds of this collection was affected by the flood in the 1920s and even now, the crinkling and water marks are evident in his early sketchbooks. 

Monday, 1 April 2013

Paris; or a tale of two cities

The Eiffel Tower is truly a modern wonder. The modern elegant sweep of metal, the solid mechanism, the symbolism and history that surrounds it makes it a product of the modern time. Compared with the neoclassicism of the architecture there, the glory of the modern stands out. Just being the most modern structure in the area, ensures it becomes the most you look across to La Defence, the thought process suddenly turns.