In April, we told you about Chrissy Partheni, Curator of Antiquities at World Museum and her involvement with this year’s Biennial in Liverpool – read it here. Working alongside curators at Tate Liverpool and Biennial, we were able to loan objects from our classical collections, in particular from Henry Blundell’s sculptural collections, forming part of the Biennial Ancient Greece Episode exhibition there. Chrissy says:
“If you have visited the exhibition, you may think this is not the traditional way to display classical collections; they are in the Ancient Greek and Flashback episodes of the Liverpool Biennial. But this indeed is a refreshing way of looking and thinking about classical collections. My favourite is the hare, suspended on a round table: the motion and drama of the piece captured in the specific moment in time and in eternity rather than a static object on a museum shelf.
True, the sculptures and ceramic pots on display are in traditional media (although Betty Woodman’s works share the fascination with clay ) and hence very different to the works by the contemporary artists. But there is more than meets the eye. Both classical and contemporary works share the strong convention that objects are invested with specific cultural, social and political values – such values can be individually or publicly constructed.
Works such as the Apollo the Sauroktonos, the archaic Athena, Dionysus and Tyche (misidentified by the collector as Tyche but really an archaic Kore) and the South Italian classical pots on display, do not merely serve as props for the display. They are in direct dialogue with the contemporary works. What will be collected from our culture for future generations, what is the interplay between memory and loss in museum objects and art, and how are personal and national identities being constructed?
I will be discussing some of these issues in a talk with Tate Liverpool’s curator Lauren Barnes, on Tuesday 2 August from 6.30pm. I hope to see many of you there!”
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