*WARNING* if you are offended by nudity in art or the antiquities you may not want to continue reading this post. Just saying…..
On our trip to London this year we spent a couple of hours at the British Museum. We went there primarily to see the Stonehenge Exhibition but our tickets were time sensitive so we decided to pass some time in the other galleries. The first gallery, on your right as you enter the museum, houses some of the collection donated by Hans Sloane who was directly responsible for the opening of the British Museum. He donated some 71 000 pieces from his personal collection on the premise that the museum itself would remain free of charge to the British people and anyone outside of Britain who wanted to see it. Sloane is not without his dark side and in recent years it was revealed that much of his collection and wealth were derived from slavery. In 2020 his bust was removed from the entrance and moved into the gallery next door and encased under glass with an explanation as to how slavery contributed to his wealth.
In this same gallery are many statues from ancient Greece and Rome. It is here that I found the ‘missing’ component of this post. It is not unusual to see parts of these statues with missing limbs and even heads but it seemed that every single nude male had his penis removed, not broken off but actually sliced off. I found this odd and I wondered why so I did some research.
Many scholars believe that the missing appendages fell off during an earthquake, which was quite a common occurrence in Greece and Rome but others believe that converts to Christianity back in the 5th century were offended by the exposed genitalia and the parts were consequently emasculated or were provided with a loincloth (cemented in place). In later years some believe that missionaries, dealers and some collectors had a hand in removing parts that they deemed offensive. This scant disrespect for the integrity of the items may explain the condition of the statues and sculptures that I witnessed on the day I visited.
In 1857 Queen Victoria was gifted a full scale cast of Michelangelo’s David . She was apparently so taken aback by the frontal nudity that the museum commissioned a fig leaf to conceal the offending genitalia for subsequent visits of Her Royal Majesty. On my our first trip to the V&A our son pointed out the gold plated fig leaf and explained the significance to us. We found it quite amusing.
If you want more information about how and why this happened you may find this paper by Jeremy MacClancy interesting.
Last year the turtles in the pond over at Col. Sam Smith Park were nowhere to be seen. Yesterday I decided to vote early for the upcoming Provincial election and I decided to take the scenic route through the park to my polling station. As I got closer to the pond I heard a few boys shouting to one another and one of them mentioned he was on the Turtle Path. This name was new to me but I decided to turn left towards an opening in the pond to see if the turtles had indeed returned.
To my absolute delight, did I not only see one turtle but at least a dozen of them in all sizes. Another woman was also viewing them and we started to talk. She confirmed that they weren’t around last year. I asked her if they were painted turtles (she seemed to know quite a bit about these prehistoric creatures) and she said they were. She also told me that she had just come across a huge snapping turtle on the side of the pond. I decided to save this for another day. I’ll make sure to bring my camera with the telephoto lens.
….after producing art pieces for my solo show at the end of June it was nice to just paint for fun
I’m currently taking a free course with Louise Fletcher called Find Your Joy. For the first assignment we had to tape off a large sheet of watercolour paper and choose three colours of paint plus black and white. I divided the paper into nine rectangles and then randomly started to add colour to the paper making sure to ignore the tape and go over it as if it were part of the painting.
The process is very intuitive, which suits me to a tee. After 30 minutes of mixing my colours and randomly laying down the paint and some black ink I stopped and carefully removed the tape. I was very happy with the results. Some of these pieces may end up in my show or not but the point was to have fun and escape from the realities of everyday life.