Wednesday, March 14, 2012

British Museum - Greek Eye Opener Tour (part 1)

Back in January,  I stole an hour out of my otherwise 'oh so busy' schedule to head over to the British Museum for another of the 'eye-opener' tours:  this time 'The Greeks'.

Corinthian White Clay...
I will say, the eye-opener tours are always great, and I LOVE a guide who begins by warning us abour her intentions, so that those who want something different can leave before it begins. 

Since her 'warning' was about her intention to look at pottery, I was not dissuaded! My inner potter was in bliss!   :-)  Indeed, rare is the tour that leaves me feeling quite so grounded... literally... in stuff out of the ground!

First lesson? Different communities were working with different colours of clay. I don't know why this should have been such a surprise, but it was! (maybe because I know I can go to the store and order clay in just about any colour imaginable).

Black figure decoration (scaping off)
 I rather forgot that people might be using the kind of clay they could dig up in the area they lived in).

So, for example, the Corinthians were working with white clay, while the greeks were using red clay.

The guide talked to us about black figure decoration (basically, where you put layers of coloured slip on the pot and then scraped it off, to reveal the colour underneath).

Red decoration (adding on)
On the other hand, there is red figure decoration, where they instead added the colour to the outside of the pot, leaving the figure itself in the colour of the bare clay.

Two different methods, but both of which show off the beautiful red of the underlying clay body in greek pottery.

Egyptian and Greek from the front...
Another thing I learned? That you can tell the difference between egyptian and greek statues from the period by checking out their backsides.

The Greeks felt you would be asking for trouble if you left the statue unfinished.

...and from the back
The Egyptions, on the other hand, were comfortable with the back of the statue being clearly a part of the block of stone.

The guide also told us to watch the faces, and that the Greek statues (in the earliest period) had a bit of a goofy smile going on.... she referred to is as an archaic smile... i like the turn of phrase.

Both statues had some similar stances from the front, but you are not likely to get a well-developed buttocks on an egyptian statue.

Duncan is, as an aside, still deeply enamoured with the Rick Riordan Percy Jackson series, and in the last book, we spent tons of time hanging out with Ella the Harpy (click here to read more about her on Riordan's website).

A harpy on a tomb
As such, it was a treat to wander past the facing on a tomb, and see a Harpy carved there (holding a person in their arms). It was fun to see an original version (complete with bird legs!), having become rather attached to Riordan's modern day intepretation of the harpy!

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    So hard not to wish I were there. If a person could only choose one place to go in London, well if that person were me, I might die from the inner struggle of choosing. But in a forced choice, the British Museum wins. So sweet to read about it here.


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