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Mary Gillick: modelling The Queen’s portrait at the British Museum from 2 June to 31 July 2022

In celebration of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June, the British Museum will open a new, free display centring around female artist Mary Gillick’s (1881–1965) portrait of Elizabeth II. This was for the first ever coin featuring The Queen, designed 70 years ago in 1952 and issued in 1953. The Asahi Shimbun Display Mary Gillick: modelling The Queen’s portrait will showcase the production and reception of the coin, which was the young Queen’s first depiction on British currency.

Bust of Queen Elizabeth II r., wearing laurel wreath. Reproduced by permission of the artist © The Trustees of the British Museum

Gillick’s portrait of The Queen combined modern design with Italian Renaissance influences, building on her experience as a medal maker. Her iconic design remained in circulation on coins in the UK until the 1990s. In addition, the design has been adapted for use on British commemorative stamps since 1966 and still appears on the Maundy money given out by The Queen each Easter, indicating its continued importance.

Plaster model for the obverse of a coin. Mary Gillick, 1952. Bust of Queen Elizabeth II r., wearing laurel wreath. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Selected to design the coin from a number of invited artists, the identity of Gillick as the artist remained a secret for months. When details of the design were finally announced, the choice of a female artist in her seventies garnered great interest from the press and public. Gillick was thrust into the limelight, with photos of her posing with her design printed in newspapers all over the nation and abroad. Despite this initial interest and her long career as a sculptor, Gillick remains a much-neglected artist. As well as commemorating The Queen, this exhibition will recognise Gillick’s significant contributions to sculpture and medal design, exploring her life and work.

Struck bronze uniface medal. Mary Gillick, 1941. Bust of John Cadman, First Baron Cadman of Silverdale, r. Nude female figure kneeling l., holding up oil-lamp. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Gillick was admired by prominent figures in the art world, such as Sir Kenneth Clark.She trained at the Royal College of Art where she discovered Renaissance medals. A medal by the celebrated ‘inventor’ of the medal, the 15th century Italian painter Pisanello, will be displayed alongside her work. Gillick was inspired by what is often termed the golden age of medal design, modernising Pisanello’s style to suit 20th century Britain. Other significant commissions such as a portrait of prominent suffragette Ida Wylie, commissioned by Wylie’s lover Rachel Barrett, and depictions of an airman who shot down a Zeppelin over England during the First World War will also be on view along with preparatory drawings.

Struck bronze medal. Mary Gillick, 1945. Bust of Charles Chree, l. Nude cherub standing to front, wearing laurel wreath and holding up scroll with graph. © The Trustees of the British Museum

A highlight of the display will be items presented to the British Museum by the artist’s family in 2005, which included medals created by Gillick from the 1910s to the 1950s, a set of large-scale plaster models of her portrait of The Queen, and documents relating to the new coins. Drawings and photographs loaned from the Henry Moore Institute will demonstrate the creative process in full.

This display is part of the celebrations marking Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. On Saturday 11 June the Museum is holding The Platinum Jubilee Party with family friendly activities on offer. Visitors will have the chance to create their own Mary Gillick style portrait of The Queen in a workshop run by artist David Allsop. Individual portraits taken with an onsite photobooth will be decorated and made into an enormous collaborative card that will be sent to the Royal Household. Other activities include making decorative crowns with the independent jewellery brand Tatty Devine and a performance by London-based brass band No Limit Street Band.

For more information and tickets, visit the British Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibition Review – Feminine power: the divine to the demonic at the British Museum from 19 May to 25 September 2022

The British Museum presents the first major exhibition to explore female spiritual beings in world belief and mythological traditions around the globe.

This exhibition brings together ancient sculpture, sacred artefacts and contemporary art from six continents to explore the diversity of ways in which femininity has been perceived across the globe, from the ancient world to today.

It explores the embodiment of feminine power in deities, goddesses, demons, saints and other spiritual beings, associated with diverse areas of human experience, from wisdom, passion and nature, to war, mercy and justice.

Objects from cultures across the globe are displayed together for the first time including painted scrolls from Tibet, Roman sculpture, intricate personal amulets from Egypt, Japanese prints and Indian relief carvings alongside contemporary sculptures.

The exhibition includes over 70 unique objects, drawn from the British Museum’s world-class collection complimented by rare loans.

For the first time, the British Museum has invited special guest contributors to respond to the themes in the exhibition, sharing their personal and professional viewpoints. The video and audio thought-pieces addressing each section will encourage discussion around the universal themes of the show. The contributions conclude the exhibition alongside an area for visitors to share their responses as part
of the conversation.

The special guest contributors include: Dr Leyla Hussein, psychotherapist and award-winning international campaigner against violence against women will reflect on Forces of Nature; Professor Mary Beard, classicist, author and broadcaster will speak to Passion and Desire; award-winning writer and presenter of the podcast How To Fail, Elizabeth Day, will explore Magic and Malice; former British Army Major and human rights lawyer, Rabia Siddique, will share her thoughts on Justice and Defence; and Deborah Frances-White, the writer and comedian best known for her podcast The Guilty Feminist, will explore the theme of Compassion and Salvation.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is a newly acquired icon of the Hindu goddess Kali by Bengali artist, Kaushik Ghosh, the first contemporary 3D representation of Kali in the British Museum collection. Kali is one of the most prominent and widely venerated goddesses in India who is loved and feared for her formidable power as a goddess of destruction and salvation, who transcends time and death.

Since the late first millennium AD, Lilith has been known within Jewish demonology as the first wife of Adam and the consort of Satan. Her origins are thought to lie in Mesopotamia. The exhibition includes a ceramic incantation bowl from 500-800 AD Iraq, featuring a rare early image of Lilith in female form.

On loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is the sculpture, Lilith (1994), by American artist Kiki Smith. Smith’s sculpture is cast from the body of a real woman, her eyes of blue glass directly confront the viewer as she crouches on all fours against the wall.

This fascinating exhibition explores how feminine power has played a vital role in world belief and mythology. This role has led to a number of representations that often shape cultural attitudes towards women and gender identity. Modern artists and writers are beginning to use these representations to challenge some of these stereotypes and look at more balanced views of women in many different societies.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the British Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibition Review: The world of Stonehenge at the British Museum from 17 February to 17 July 2022

The British Museum presents a major exhibition entitled The world of Stonehenge which sees over 430 objects brought together from across Europe in a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle on the history and mystery of the iconic ancient monument.

The world of Stonehenge is the UK’s first ever major exhibition on the story of Stonehenge. Stonehenge was built 4,500 years ago around the same time as the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

This exhibition attempts to place the iconic monument in its historical context which saw huge social and technological revolutions, alongside fundamental changes in people’s relationships with the cosmos, the land and other peoples.

At the heart of the exhibition is the 4,000-year-old Bronze Age timber circle, dubbed Seahenge. It is a hugely significant and extremely rare surviving example of a timber monument. It re-emerged on a remote Norfolk beach in 1998 due to the shifting sands, and it consists of a large upturned tree stump surrounded by 54 wooden posts. The oak posts, some up to 3m tall, were tightly packed in a 6.6m diameter circle with their bark-covered sides facing outwards. Inside the circle was a mighty oak, its roots upturned towards the heavens like branches. A narrow entranceway was aligned on the rising midsummer sun and it is thought this monument was used for ritual purposes.

Nearly two-thirds of the objects on display in The world of Stonehenge are loans, with objects coming from 35 lenders across the UK, the Republic of Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland.

Of these, the majority have never been seen in the UK before.

Alongside the international loans, visitors will see some of the most important objects unearthed in the Stonehenge landscape, many of them now in the collections of neighbouring museums.

The exhibition has been organised with the State Museum of Prehistory, Halle/Saale,Germany, who have loaned the Nebra Sky Disc, the oldest surviving representation of the cosmos anywhere in the world.

The exhibition illustrates the advances in technologies of the period with a wide array of gold objects.

Also in the exhibition is what is considered “the most important piece of prehistoric art to be found in Britain in the last 100 years.” The object is a 5,000-year-old chalk sculpture and was discovered on a country estate near the village of Burton Agnes in East Yorkshire. The sculpture is decorated with elaborate motifs that reaffirms a British and Irish artistic style that flourished at exactly the same time as Stonehenge was built. It was uncovered alongside the burial of three children.

The importance of this new discovery relates to its similarity to a group of objects in the British Museum’s collection. Three barrel-shaped cylinders made of solid chalk dubbed the Folkton drums due to their shape and the location where they were found in North Yorkshire have been in the collection of the British Museum since first being excavated in 1889.

This fascinating exhibition does not pretend to solve the mysteries of Stonehenge but does try put it into its historical context. Contrary to what you would expect, the evidence suggests that ideas and people travelled considerable distances and all over Europe there can be found similar objects. The sharing of similar beliefs perhaps explain how a major undertaking like Stonehenge could attract a large and coordinated workforce to move the monument’s bluestones hundreds of kilometres from West Wales to Salisbury Plain.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the British Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibition Review- Peru: a journey in time at the British Museum from 11 November 2021 to 20 February 2022

The British Museum presents a major new exhibition entitled Peru: a journey in time that features the rare loan of ancient objects from Peru to the British Museum.

The loan includes over 40 remarkable objects, some dating from over 3,000 years ago from nine museums across Peru. Most of them have never travelled to the UK before. These objects are on display with around 80 other pieces from the British Museum’s collection. This is the first major exhibition the British Museum has ever staged on Peru. It coincides with the 200th anniversary of the country’s independence.

The exhibition ranges from the early culture of Chavin in 1200 BC, up to the fall of the Incas in AD 1532, and explores the rise and fall of six remarkable but little known societies. Peru includes some of most challenging and geographically diverse regions in the world, with landscapes ranging from arid deserts, high mountains across the Andes and tropical forests in the east.

The exhibition is chronological passing through six sections and exploring the past and considering the present. The first section called Living Landscapes, explores the way Andean people have adapted to the difficult environment in the region. To adapt, Andean people have developed belief systems where the natural and supernatural worlds are intimately connected. This is illustrated clearly in the section on Early cultures and the Chavin (1200–500 BC),

The following section looking at life and death in the desert and how the Paracas and Nasca peoples lived and prospered along the south coast of Peru.

The next step on the journey focus on the Moche (AD 100–800) and the Chimu, (AD 1000–1400) who dominated along the coast and inland valleys of northern Peru.

This is followed by a section looking at the two great empires of the highlands of the Central Andes, the Wari (AD 600–900) and Inca (AD 1400–1532).

The exhibition’s journey ends with a look at the Andean legacy, and how the Modern Peru of today combines the cultures, religions and transformations from the past 3,000 years.

Highlights among the objects coming from Peru include a stunning 2,500-year-old gold headdress and pair of ear plates which were part of an elite burial found at the site of Kuntur Wasi, Cajamarca.

Also there is a striking ceremonial drum from around 100 BC – AD 650 featuring a depiction of the capture of defeated enemies in ritual combat, one of the principal scenes of the Nasca people’s worldview.

The oldest object on loan is a ceremonial vessel from the Cupisnique culture, which flourished along what is now Peru’s northern Pacific coast, and is thought to date from up to 1200 BC. It is in the shape of a contorted human body.

This intriguing exhibition reminds visitors that many societies around the world have prospered in less than ideal environments and this isolation often leads to unique societies with interesting belief systems. This exhibition provides considerable insights into Peruvian societies that were closely related to their environment yet believed in the supernatural world of gods and spirits. It also illustrates that these societies were innovative and sophisticated using a series of techniques in engineering, agriculture and textiles to make full use of the limited resources available.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the British Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibition Review – Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything at the British Museum from 30 September 2021 to 30 January 2022

The British Museum presents a new exhibition entitled Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything which features over 100 newly rediscovered drawings by Japanese artist, Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) which go on public display for the very first time at the British Museum.

The drawings were created as illustrations for an unpublished book, The Great Picture Book of Everything, the existence of these remarkable 103 small drawings had been forgotten for the past 70 years. Formerly owned by the collector Henri Vever (1854–1942), they resurfaced in Paris in 2019, the same city where they were last publicly recorded, at an auction in 1948.

The drawings are thought to have been in a private collection in France in the intervening years and unknown to the wider world.

The drawings illustrate a broad range of subjects related to China, India and the natural world:

from religious, mythological, historical, and literary figures,

to animals, birds and flowers and other natural phenomena, as well as landscapes.

Many subjects here are not found in any other Hokusai works.

At the time Hokusai conceived The Great Picture Book of Everything, Japan was in a form of isolation. From 1639 to 1859, the Japanese government bought laws that many sections of the Japanese population were forbidden to travel abroad.

Hokusai used his imagination to examine the very roots of human civilisation. In this unique group of drawings, the artist’s animated figures dramatise the origins of Buddhism in India and the development of habitation, fire, agriculture, weights and measures and even rice wine brewing in ancient China.

The British Museum has one of the most comprehensive collections of Hokusai works outside of Japan. Visitors to the exhibition have a chance to see two Edo-period (1615-1868) examples of Hokusai’s most famous print Under the Wave off Kanagawa (1831), popularly called The Great Wave.

It is only through a twist of fate that these wonderful drawings, each the size of a picture postcard, have survived at all. They are created as ‘block-ready’ drawings (hanshita-e). If the book had been published, a professional block-cutter would have pasted each drawing face down onto a plank of cherry wood and cut through the back of the paper with chisels and knives to create a finely detailed printing block. This process would have destroyed the drawings. Instead, once publishing project had been abandoned, the drawings were mounted on cards and kept in a purpose-made wooden storage box.

This fascinating exhibition is not just a testament to the skill and talent of Katsushika Hokusai, these small drawings provide a remarkable insight into 19th century Japan and each of the drawings provides a snapshot of Japanese culture. Hokusai, a keen observer of human and animal behavior illustrates a world that in 50 years would be changed forever.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the British Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibition Review – Nero: the man behind the myth at the British Museum from 27 May to 24 October 2021

The British Museum presents the first major exhibition in the UK on Nero, one of the most notorious ancient Roman emperors. The exhibition entitled Nero: the man behind the myth explores the true story of Rome’s fifth emperor informed by new research and archaeological evidence from the time, challenging the often biased historical accounts written after Nero’s death that have shaped his legacy.

This major exhibition features over 200 objects, charting the young emperor’s rise to power and examining his actions during a period of profound social change in regions from Armenia in the Near East, to Britain, and across mainland Europe.

The objects in the exhibition are drawn from the British Museum’s collection alongside rare loans from Europe, most never seen in the UK before, the exhibition includes graffiti next to grand sculpture, precious manuscripts, objects destroyed in the fire of Rome, priceless jewellery and slave chains from Wales, providing context to understand Nero’s reign.

Nero (r. AD 54–68), the last male descendant of Rome’s first emperor Augustus, succeeded to the throne aged only sixteen. During his reign of nearly fourteen years, he had his own mother killed, his first wife, and allegedly his second wife. Written accounts even claimed that Nero himself started the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64.

In June AD 68, when confronted with rebellions by insubordinate military officials, Nero was forced to commit suicide. The Roman senate immediately excised his memory from official records, and in many ways his name was vilified to legitimise the new ruling elite.

The image of Nero as a tyrant has passed into history relying on the works of historians Tacitus, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio. This exhibition challenges traditional preconceptions and explores Nero’s relationship with the Roman populace.

Nero was the first Roman emperor to act on stage and compete in public games as a charioteer. Chariot racing, gladiatorial combats and theatre were incredibly popular in the Roman world, and the exhibition features fascinating objects such as gladiatorial weapons from Pompeii on loan from the Louvre, stunning frescoes depicting actors and theatrical masks lend by Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli.

Statues of Nero were erected throughout the empire, yet very few survive due to the official suppression of his image. A star piece in the exhibition is a bronze head of Nero, long-mistaken as Claudius, which was found in the River Alde in Suffolk in 1907. The head was part of a statue that probably stood in Camulodunum (Colchester) before being torn down during the Boudica-led rebellion. A small bronze figure of Nero, lent by Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Venezia and seen in the UK for the first time, gives a rare sense of a complete sculpture.

The Fenwick Hoard is shown as part of a major exhibition for the first time since it was discovered in 2014 beneath the floor of a shop on Colchester’s High Street. The treasure was buried for safekeeping by settlers fleeing for their lives during Boudica’s attack. Among the items are Roman republican and imperial coins, military armlets and fashionable jewellery very similar to finds from Pompeii and Herculaneum.

One of the defining moments of Nero’s reign was the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64, which burned for nine days and laid waste to large parts of the city. Excavations in recent years have revealed the true extent of the ferocity and impact of the fire. A warped iron window grating, discovered near the Circus Maximus, will be displayed in the UK for the first time.

Nero, who was in the nearby city of Antium rather than in his palace watching the inferno, led the relief and reconstruction efforts. A new palace, the Domus Aurea, rose from the ashes. Stunning frescoes and wall decorations give visitors a taste of Nero’s opulent residence.

This fascinating exhibition gives context to Nero’s reign and provides some insight into a Roman world which was enjoying the spoils of empire. Nero was its figurehead and he enjoyed his imperial status, however even if his tyranny was exaggerated by a ruling elite, there was little doubt that power corrupted the young ruler that led to his early demise.

For more information and tickets, visit the British Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Nero: the man behind the myth at the British Museum from 27 May to 24 October 2021

Marble bust of Nero. Italy, around AD 55. Photo by Francesco Piras. With permission of the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali e per il Turismo ̶ Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Cagliari.

The British Museum will present the first major exhibition in the UK on Nero, one of the most notorious ancient Roman emperors. The exhibition entitled Nero: the man behind the myth explores the true story of Rome’s fifth emperor informed by new research and archaeological evidence from the time, challenging the often biased historical accounts written after Nero’s death that have shaped his legacy.

Recent discoveries relating to Nero’s fourteen-year rule reveal a more accurate picture. Treasures hidden during the destruction of Colchester in AD 60-61 during Boudica’s Iceni rebellion, burned artifacts from the Fire of Rome in AD 64, and evidence from the destruction of Pompeii uncover a new understanding of Nero’s turbulent and misconceived reign.

Terracotta relief showing a chariot-race, Italy, AD 40–70. © The Trustees of
the British Museum.

This major exhibition will feature over 200 objects, charting the young emperor’s rise to power and examining his actions during a period of profound social change in regions from Armenia in the Near East, to Britain, and across mainland Europe. Drawn from the British Museum’s collection alongside rare loans from Europe, most never seen in the UK before, the exhibition includes graffiti next to grand sculpture, precious manuscripts, objects destroyed in the fire of Rome, priceless jewellery and slave chains from Wales, telling the story of rich and poor alike.

Nero (r. AD 54–68), the last male descendant of Rome’s first emperor Augustus, succeeded to the throne aged only sixteen. Britain had been under Roman rule for just eleven years. During his reign of nearly fourteen years, he had his own mother killed, his first wife, and allegedly his second wife. Written accounts even claim that Nero himself started the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64. In June AD 68, when confronted with rebellions by insubordinate military officials, Nero was forced to commit suicide. The Roman senate immediately excised his memory from official records, and his name was vilified to legitimise the new ruling elite.

The image of Nero as a tyrant created 50 years after his death by the historians Tacitus and Suetonius, and written about more than another century later by Cassius Dio, is a story that has been repeated for centuries. This exhibition challenges traditional preconceptions and explores what the ancient elite narrative on Nero tells us about the inner conflicts of Roman society.

Miniature bronze bust of Caligula, AD 37–41. © Colchester Museums

Statues of Nero were erected throughout the empire, yet very few survive due to the official suppression of his image. A star piece in the exhibition is a bronze head of Nero, long-mistaken as Claudius, which was found in the River Alde in Suffolk in 1907. The head was part of a statue that probably stood in Camulodunum (Colchester) before being torn down during the Boudica-led rebellion. A small bronze figure of Nero, lent by Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Venezia and seen in the UK for the first time, gives a rare sense of a complete sculpture.

The Fenwick Hoard, England, AD 60–61. © Colchester Museums.

The Fenwick Hoard will be shown as part of a major exhibition for the first time since it was discovered in 2014 beneath the floor of a shop on Colchester’s High Street. The treasure was buried for safekeeping by settlers fleeing for their lives during Boudica’s attack. Among the items are Roman republican and imperial coins, military armlets and fashionable jewellery very similar to finds from Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Bronze gladiator’s helmet, Pompeii, 1st century AD. © The Trustees of the
British Museum.

Famously, Nero was the first Roman emperor to act on stage and compete in public games as a charioteer. Chariot racing, gladiatorial combats and theatre were incredibly popular in the Roman world, as shown by fascinating objects such as gladiatorial weapons from Pompeii on loan from the Louvre, stunning frescoes depicting actors and theatrical masks lend by Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli.

One of the defining moments of Nero’s reign was the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64, which burned for nine days and laid waste to large parts of the city. Excavations in recent years have revealed the true extent of the ferocity and impact of the fire. A warped iron window grating, discovered near the Circus Maximus, will be displayed in the UK for the first time, as testament to the intensity of the flames and destruction.

Nero, who was in the nearby city of Antium rather than in his palace watching the inferno, led the relief and reconstruction efforts. A new palace, the Domus Aurea, rose from the ashes. Stunning frescoes and wall decorations will give visitors a taste of Nero’s opulent residence.

Visitors may ask themselves, who was Nero? A young ruler reconciling contrasting demands in a time of great change, or a merciless, matricidal maniac?

Tickets are available to book today for Nero: the man behind the myth opening 27 May, as well as tickets to the special exhibition Thomas Becket: murder and the making of a saint, opening 20 May. The Museum plans to reopen on 17 May and free tickets to visit the permanent collection are also available to book now.

For more information and tickets, visit the British Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibition Review – Arctic: culture and climate at the British Museum from 22 Oct 2020 to 21 Feb 2021

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The British Museum presents the first major exhibition on the history of the Arctic and its indigenous peoples, through the lens of climate change and weather. The Arctic has been home to a number of communities for nearly 30,000 years, and the exhibition explores some of the cultures that have lived in one of the most dramatic environments on earth.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

With climate change transforming the Arctic at the fastest rate in human history. The exhibition entitled Arctic: culture and climate looks at the circumpolar region through the eyes of contemporary Arctic communities, revealing how Arctic peoples have adapted to climate change in the past and addresses the present crisis.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The exhibition brings together the largest and most diverse circumpolar collection ever displayed in the UK, including objects from the British Museum’s Arctic collection and international lenders and commissions, this exhibition reveals artistic expression and ecological knowledge, from the past right up to the present day.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Exhibits include rare 28,000 year old archaeological finds excavated from the thawing ground in Siberia, unique tools and clothing adapted for survival, artworks reflecting the respectful relationship between Arctic people and the natural world and photography of contemporary daily life.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The Arctic Circle is the most northern region in the world which covers 4% of the Earth. It is home to 4 million people including 400,000 indigenous peoples belonging to one or more of 40 different ethnic groups with distinct languages and dialects. Most of the Arctic’s indigenous inhabitants rely on hunting, fishing and reindeer herding. These subsistence resources are supplemented by employment in industries such as government infrastructures, energy, commercial fishing and tourism. Arctic peoples have traded and engaged across the Circumpolar North for millennia. From Russia, Greenland, Canada and the USA to the Scandinavian nations, the peoples of the region have thrived within this ever-changing landscape.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The exhibition features objects from across the circumpolar region, including an 8-piece Igloolik winter costume made of caribou (wild reindeer) fur. Animals provides food for the community as well as clothing, all available natural materials are put to use.

Other highlights include a delicate and unique household bag from western Alaska, crafted from tanned salmon skin, a Inughuit (Greenlandic) sled made from narwhal and caribou bone and pieces of driftwood which was traded to Sir John Ross on his 1818 expedition, marking the first encounter between Inughuit and Europeans.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Arctic peoples’ responses to the establishment of colonial governments and state-sponsored religions in the Arctic will feature, including a bronze carved Evenki spirit mask that was made from a 17th century Russian Orthodox icon.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Many Arctic peoples are transforming traditional heritage to meet contemporary needs and the exhibition explores ritual practices to commercial artwork inspired by their storytelling and material traditions.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Stunning contemporary photography of the Arctic landscape provides a background to a wide range of of new artworks commissioned for the exhibition. These include a limestone Inuksuk, an iconic Arctic monument of stacked stones used to mark productive harvesting locations or to assist in navigation, built by Piita Irniq, from the Kivalliq Region of Nunavut, Canada.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

A new installation from the art collective Embassy of Imagination will present traditional clothing made from Japanese paper and printmaking by Inuit youth in Kinngait (Cape Dorset) and Puvirnitug, Nunavut, Canada.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

This fascinating exhibition provides a timely insight into an often neglected part of the world. The stories of the various communities provide evidence of the remarkable abilities of communities to deal with different kinds of change and developing strategies to make best use of change. Whilst climate change is often discussed in an abstract way and from little personal knowledge, we might be better to listen to communities that have survived the disruptive effects of social and environmental change and created thriving cultures.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the British Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
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Exhibition Review – Tantra: enlightenment to revolution at the British Museum from 24 September 2020 to 24 January 2021

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The British Museum presents a new exhibition which charts the rise and spread of Tantra, a set of beliefs and rituals that first emerged in India around AD 500 and how these beliefs influenced Tantra’s early medieval transformation of Hinduism and Buddhism, its links to the Indian fight for independence and its part in the 1960s counterculture in the West.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Tantra: enlightenment to revolution is the first major exhibition in the UK to focus on the history of Tantra and its global impact. The British Museum houses one of the biggest and most comprehensive collections of Tantric material in the world and over 100 objects will be on show, including masterpieces of sculpture, painting, prints and ritual objects.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Tantra is a philosophy rooted in sacred instructional texts called ‘Tantras’. They take their name from the Sanskrit word ‘tan’, meaning ‘to weave’ or ‘compose’, and are often written in the form of a conversation between a god and goddess. The exhibition features four examples of some of the earliest surviving Tantras in the world, made in Nepal from around the 12th century, these texts outline a variety of rituals for invoking one of the many all-powerful Tantric deities.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Tantras often described rituals that transgressed existing social and religious boundaries, in order to achieve liberation and generate power.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The exhibition explores Tantra’s radical challenge to gender norms. The Tantric worldview sees all material reality as animated by Shakti which is unlimited, divine feminine power. This view inspired the dramatic rise of goddess worship in India and the exhibition features a 9th-century sandstone temple relief from Madhya Pradesh depicting the ferocious goddess Chamunda dancing on a corpse, to an 18th-century courtly painting showing female gurus offering Tantric initiation.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

These depictions have influenced contemporary works by female artists including Sutapa Biswas’ 1985 mixed media work Housewives with Steak-Knives, which evokes the Tantric goddess Kali in a modern feminist form.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Tantra was also used as a tool of revolution during the fight for India’s independence in the late 19th century. Indian revolutionaries used goddesses such as Kali as symbols of an independent India rising up against the British. The exhibition features dramatic sculptures and artworks of Kali wearing garlands of decapitated heads, which exploited British fears of a bloodthirsty revolution.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The final section of the exhibition focuses on the 20th century, and the way that certain aspects of Tantra were used in the West. During the 1960s and 1970s, Tantric ideas and imagery were used in global countercultural movements to advocate free love ideals. The Tantra-inspired psychedelic posters that were used in London and San Francisco are on show, as well as paintings, photographs and sculptures illustrating Tantra’s enduring influence in art and popular culture.

© 2020 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

This fascinating exhibition provides evidence of the considerable and diverse cultural and religious traditions of Tantra, that has generally been misrepresented in the West. The association with sex and yoga has led to the Tantra traditions to be generally overlooked and ignored. This has been unfortunate because these traditions often challenge political, sexual and gender norms, this exhibition places the traditions in the correct context to understand their importance in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the British Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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103 “lost” drawings by Japanese artist Hokusai acquired by the British Museum

Over 100 newly-rediscovered drawings by Japanese artist Hokusai have been acquired by the British Museum. Created in 1829 as illustrations for an unpublished book, they came to light in 2019 and have now been purchased by the Museum with the help of a grant from Art Fund.

The existence of these small drawings,103 in total had been forgotten for the past 70 years. Formerly owned by the collector and Art Nouveau jeweller Henri Vever (1854-1842), they resurfaced in Paris last year, the same city where they were last publicly recorded: at an auction in 1948. The drawings which were made for a book called Great Picture Book of Everything are thought to have been in a private collection in France in the intervening years and unknown to the wider world.

The drawings are a major discovery of Hokusai’s life and works. They are especially significant as they come from a period in the artist’s career where he was previously thought to have created relatively little, due to a succession of personal challenges. Within the previous two years he had suffered the death of his second wife and recovered from a minor stroke. And just months after these pieces were finished, Hokusai pleaded destitution in a letter in part due to gambling debts incurred by his grandson. The reason why these drawings were never published remains unclear, but they mark a turning point in the seventy-year-old artist’s career, demonstrating that he was in fact entering a new burst of creativity that would soon give birth to his famous print series, Thirty-Six Views of Mt Fuji (c. 1831-1833).

This acquisition now joins the British Museum’s extensive collection of Hokusai works, one of the most comprehensive outside of Japan. They bring the total number of works relating to the artist at the Museum – paintings, prints, drawings and illustrated books – to over 1,000.

The most famous Hokusai work at the British Museum is a fine early impression of the print popularly known as ‘The Great Wave’, acquired in 2008 also with the assistance of Art Fund. It was the centrepiece of the major exhibition Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave in 2017 and was seen by 150,000 visitors.

All 103 drawings are now available to see on the British Museum Collection online, including the ability to see the drawings up close, using zoom technology from the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF). This allows the fast, rich zoom and panning of images so viewers can see them in detail. It’s planned that the newly acquired drawings will go on display as part of a future free exhibition at the Museum.

The subjects of the newly-acquired drawings are wide ranging: from depictions of religious, mythological, historical, and literary figures, to animals, birds and flowers and other natural phenomena, as well as landscapes. They are dominated by subjects that relate to ancient China and India, also Southeast and Central Asia. Many subjects here are not found in any previous Hokusai works, including fascinating imaginings of the origins of human culture in ancient China.

Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) is considered by many to be Japan’s greatest artist. During his seventy-year career, he produced a 3,000 colour prints, illustrations for over 200 books, hundreds of drawings and over 1,000 paintings.

For more information, visit the British Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here