Wednesday 15 June 2011

Adornment & identity

This exhibition of Omani silver jewellery and textiles at the British Museum has been running since January but I have only just caught up with it. It covers a wide range of jewellery and has several examples of necklaces, rings, bracelets, anklets, hair ornaments and other items such as kohl pots, which are all beautifully displayed. There are fewer textiles, with a couple of examples of costume for each region of the country, but they give a flavour of the different areas. I found the information about the jewellery very informative but unfortunately there was no catalogue.


This exhibition at the British Museum shows treasures from Afghanistan from four archaeological sites ranging in time from 2200 BC to the first century AD. They are rightly called treasures as most of the artefacts on show are extremely fine examples of craftsmanship and obviously belonged to those of high status. Their diversity also reveals Afghanistan’s position as a crossroad for ancient trade routes. The incised gold bowls dating from 2200 BC from Tepe Fullol show evidence of a wealthy Bronze Age civilisation. The statues and stonework from Ai Khanum come from the site of a Greek city founded by one of Alexander the Great’s generals in 300 BC. At the third site, an archaeological investigation at the ancient city of Begram found two sealed store rooms containing Roman glass, Indian ivory furniture and Chinese lacquerware. The examples exhibited here are outstanding, especially the coloured and shaped glass containers. However, the most impressive artefacts come from a nomad cemetery excavated at Tillya Tepe, in particular the golden crown shown on the poster. This is made so that the elements shimmer and move to catch the light, and it can also be dismantled for transport. Over 20,000 pieces of gold jewellery were buried in these graves. They are certainly impressive now and must have been even more so when they were worn in the first century AD.

Friday 3 June 2011

Vital statistics of lace

This lace exhibition at Pickford’s House Museum in Derby is the first solo exhibition by Louise West, pictured above with her lace. It includes her beautiful, traditional Bedfordshire bobbin lace and a magnificent three-dimensional lace collar incorporating laser cut lace flowers and wire lace she has made during her MA. The modern and traditional lace complement each other well because the modern collar uses botanical motifs in the same way Thomas Lester used plant forms in his traditional Bedfordshire lace designs. On the day we visited, Louise was being interviewed and filmed by BBC TV Nottingham. However, the people of Nottingham also have a permanent reminder of Louise’s lace as it was used for the concrete lace that adorns Nottingham Contemporary. For more information about that and the exhibition visit Louise’s website