Thursday, 31 October 2019

British Museum

Interior of the British Museum
The Great Court, Entrance Hall and Glass Roof.
Thursday October 31, 2019.

With school half-term upon us, we decided to take the girls on a trip to London, for a few days. 

Our first stop, after lunch, was the British Museum. It was a museum that I had never visited, but had always been on my list of places to visit. As Erin (7) was learning about the Egyptians, at school, it seemed like the perfect time to visit. 

We entered from the Montague Place entrance, and headed directly into the Wellcome Trust Gallery, which had a display of 'Living and Dying'. From here went to the North America and then the Mexico collection. 

From here we entered the Great Court, now enclosed in a wonderful glass roof, where stone artefacts from Egypt and China could be seen. A cafe and gift shop, surrounding the Reading Room, were busy with customers, so we continued into the Egyptian Room. Stone tablets, bearing hieroglyphs, adorned the walls, while stone statues stood in silent majesty, gazing back at the throng of visitors. Sculptures, temples, pillars as a Sarcophagus were also easily accessible.

We then headed to the Middle East, beginning with Assyrian sculptures and Balawat Gates, before travelling through Ancient Greece. From the Minoans and Mycenaeans to the Lycia. From Alexander the Great to the Romans. Vases, sculptures, Mausoleums, monuments and the Parthenon were all on show, in all of their awe-inspiring beauty. 

Back into the Great Court, we caught a lift to the third floor, where we crossed the bridge, from the Great Court Restaurant, and entered the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Galleries, which showcased more of the Middle East. From South Arabia to Anatolia and Uratu and on to Mesopotamia and Levant, there was a lot to take in.

Then we were on to the highlight, for us, of the visit. Ancient Egypt.

Sarcophagi, mummies, burial offerings and much more were all on show. This gallery reached, if not surpassed, my expectations. Erin was busy taking photos and was completely immersed in the experience, while Keilyn was happy to wander around and look at everything, with an innocents mind.

We then headed up to the Mitsubishi Corporation Galleries, where an amazing amount of Japanese culture was on display. The collection dated from around 13,500 Bc right up to the present day. From pots to figures of Buddhist deities. From Samurai armour and weapons to wooden models of animals. Chests and clothing led on to a collection from the indigenous people of Japan, the Ainu. Photography and glassware from the 20th century were also on display.

We then headed back downstairs and into the Sainsbury Galleries and its Africa exhibit. After a good look around at the various art, relics and weaponry, we were beginning to flag. But, with so much more still to see, we decided that we would return again, and so we made our way back to the Great Court and out of the museum. So we headed down Drury Lane, in search of coffee and ice cream, before continuing to our hotel and the adventure that we had planned for Halloween night.


Sunday, 6 October 2019

Foragers of the Foreshore Exhibition

Foragers of the Foreshore
A varied selection of Mudlarking finds, from the foreshore of the River Thames.
Sunday September 29, 2019.

It was a drizzly morning as Emma, Erin, Keilyn, my mum, uncle Martin and I headed off to London, via the Metropolitan line. Changing on to a Jubilee line train, at Finchley Road, we continued our journey to Waterloo. From here it was just a short walk to Oxo Tower Wharf, and the Bargehouse, where the Foragers of the Foreshore exhibition was being held.

The exhibition had been running since the 25th, so this was our last chance to see the largest display of mudlarking finds that had ever been displayed. There were also artists and photographers displaying their work, too, which all centred around mudlarking, mudlarks and the River Thames.

Spread across three floors of the Bargehouse there was much to see and discover. There were displays of coins, medieval jewelry, pottery, keys, skulls, bones, trading tokens, weapons and so much more. These ranged from the Neolithic period, the Roman occupation and on through the centuries to the present day.

There were short videos and talks, where experts shared their knowledge and experiences, often talking about their favourite finds and those items they hoped to find one day.

Mudlarks were everywhere, with their finds on display, explaining how they got into the 'art' of mudlarking and scouring the River Thames foreshore,

Artist Ashleigh Fisk had an art installation, on one of the floors, which comprised of ceramic aretacts and finds from the foreshore, telling the story of Genius Loci of the Thames.

Hannah Smiles was on hand, taking photographs and displaying some of her favourite prints, many of which were of Mudlarks or the River Thames and its foreshore, along with some of her finds.

Adorning some of the walls were photographic portraits by the photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten, which captured the foreshore in all of its glory.

There were also artists on hand, one of whom, Nicola White, had created a piece from plastics that had been found floating in the river, While another, Ed Bucknall, had created paintings on pieces of marble, found along the foreshore.

There were many more experts, artists, photographers and Mudlarks who were easy to talk to and to ask questions of, all of which they were happy to answer.

There was an interactive area where children could make an 'artefact' from plasticine, which could then be hung, with clear nylon, in a perspex box. This simulated items being held in suspension  of the water of the River Thames.

There was also a virtual reality mudlarking box, that you placed your hand beneath. The screen then showed a hand shifting stones and such. When you were ready you 'picked up' an item and it appeared in your hand on the screen. Withdrawing your and you were given a badge, with whichever item you had discovered on it, which you took to one of the displays and the experts would tell you all they could about the item.

All-in-all it was a thoroughly informative and educational day, where much was learnt and discovered by all of us.


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