The Splendour of the Ordinary

Featured string: The Splendour of the Ordinary Spending a lot of time with museum collections and history, as I'm lucky enough to be allowed to, means grappling with the surprising timeline of inventions and "normalisations" (when using stuff that's been invented becomes normal--this can sometimes be a large gap. For example, the first video call was … Continue reading The Splendour of the Ordinary

Let’s Talk About Dicks, Baby

Featured string: Teeny Weeny Peeny: the phallus We're all adults here. Or at least I hope we are. So we should be able to face the following with some semblance of maturity: there a lot of dicks in art. Especially old art. So many gentlemen's members (very rarely are the members in question attached to ladies, … Continue reading Let’s Talk About Dicks, Baby

Against Nature: Changing Views of What’s “Normal”

Featured String: Against Nature This string deals with things that are or were at some point considered "taboo". The word itself doesn't come from English, but has travelled back to English-speakers with James Cook from a number of Polynesian languages, where similar-sounding words have the same meaning: something that's forbidden to do. Some taboos are almost universal: … Continue reading Against Nature: Changing Views of What’s “Normal”

In the Beginning was the Word: The Written Word As Art

Featured String: In the Beginning was The Word In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John:1-1. Writing has been with the human race since at least 5400 years ago, and it's cropped up independently in more than one culture. Apparently one thing our ancestors shared … Continue reading In the Beginning was the Word: The Written Word As Art

Hidden Figures: Disability in Art & Disabled Artists

Featured String: Disability in Art & Artists Disability in artists is usually presented either as the whole of their identity, often erasing the quality of their art, or completely removed from their story, leaving only the art in its place. With this string I did my best to find artists in the collections whose biographies … Continue reading Hidden Figures: Disability in Art & Disabled Artists

Iconoclasm: The Death Of History

Featured String: Iconoclasm & the Reformation What's all this then? The word "Iconoclasm" was coined originally to describe two specific periods of history. This "war on icons" (images of divinities), the First and Second Iconoclasms, took place between 726--787CE and then again between 814--842CE, in the early Christian Byzantine Empire which covered much of modern-day Turkey, … Continue reading Iconoclasm: The Death Of History

When Cultures Collide: Influence and Inspiration

Featured String: When Cultures Collide In Display It Like You Stole It, I talked about one kind of cultural interaction--acquisition, usually without permission. Misappropriation of another culture in the form of pilfering its sacred artefacts or purchasing them from others who've done a bit of grave-robbing or looting is a well-known story in the modern … Continue reading When Cultures Collide: Influence and Inspiration

Maddeningly Faded: Paint & Conservation

Featured String: Why's That Robe Pink? Featured String: The Story of Colour Moving around paintings from the Renaissance and earlier, it's often possible to see surprisingly rosy pink robes, or saints whose bloody executions don't appear to have shed any blood. This is hardly down to the squeamishness of painters! Not only were Medieval and … Continue reading Maddeningly Faded: Paint & Conservation

ArtString: Love & Identity

Featured String: Love & Identity As the curators at the British Museum no doubt found in 2017, when they began assembling an LGBTQ history trail to celebrate 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, it can be difficult to get really compelling evidence that an artefact has what, for the sake … Continue reading ArtString: Love & Identity