A date with the Celts

Graham and I plan dates now that I'm back at work full-time. Shifts mean that sometimes we can go weeks between having days off together. Having a day off or a night out in the diary gives us something to look forward to and feels very special when it comes around.

The latest big exhibition at The British Museum opened a couple of weeks' ago week: Celts, art and identity. Both G and I have membership to The British Museum, which means we get to swan into any exhibition for free, and without booking; something that always feels very decadent and indulgent. We both love history and yet the celts are something neither of us knows much about. We were very excited to be going as part of a date day this weekend.

This is an ENORMOUS exhibition – based around The British Museum's own extensive collection of Celtic objects, and with impressive additional loans from other museums across Europe. I learnt so much about a subject I'd previously been quite hazy on; everything I looked at made me think and wonder – which is fundamentally why I love going to exhibitions like these.

The design elements were fascinating. I loved the swirly, curvy lines, the emphasis on plants and animals in their designs, the incredible intricate detailing, and the constant use of mirror images. The jewellery in particular was stunning. I especially loved the torcs (of which there must have been close to a hundred in the exhibition).

I wondered how the torcs were put on – only a very few were hinged. The exhibition didn't adequately explain this mystery to me, and now I've read what the museum's website has to say on the matter perhaps that is because even archaeologists and historians are not quite certain. The one in the postcard above is impressive and weighty, but the ones I loved the most were the delicate twisted ones made in Ireland, from gold that glittered as if they were electrified.

Another postcard that I bought was this one of tiny metal model of a wild boar. It was probably originally used to decorate a jug or a large bowl.

It reminds me of the 'sangliers' or wild boar that you still see in South West France and other heavily forested parts of Europe today; slightly menacing, slightly ridiculous, other-worldly creatures that seem as if they've time travelled from another era.

Just like the Fabric of India exhibition I went to last week, this is something I'm going to have to go back to again in order to do it justice. When I go back to an exhibition I usually focus on a few things that I loved most the first time, rather than looking at every single item again. Many visitors at the weekend had sketchbooks with them, and I'm thinking I might have a go at drawing some of the torcs next time.

How about you? Do you go back to see an exhibition again if you can? Do you like to draw, take photographs or buy postcards? How do you try to remember what you've seen? I'd love to know.



3 thoughts on “A date with the Celts

  1. I usually buy the catalogue if I really love an exhibition. Sometimes I buy postcards. I can’t stand people who photograph everything in an exhibition, only spending seconds actually looking at the item or reading the information!
    This sounds like another great experience!


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