Tomb Raider

“What is THAT? It is so COOL!” asks an excited child. Jumping and pointing at that mysterious object that you, as the grown up, must have an encyclopaedic knowledge of. OK, so in my case the ‘child’ was Will (who you may remember from previous posts) but the point is the same. There are some things even the experts don’t know. Not that I’m claiming to be an expert, mind you…

Someone else who is not claiming to be an expert is Grayson Perry, who has curated a new exhibition for the BM: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman. This intrepid museum adventurer was lucky enough to wangle attendance to the Press Opening of the Big Show and even met the man himself!

Grayson Perry: Almost unrecognisable when not in his elaborate costume

When I first heard about the exhibition I was sceptical. It just wasn’t a BM kind of thing. To me it sounded, well, odd.

An odd it certainly was, but in baffling way that makes perfect sense. Once you get used to the irony of the title (Grayson made most of the stuff on display) the whole concept slides into view. Perry’s mixing of his objects with those from the BM collection emphasises the countless un-named skilled individuals and makes us really think about what we expect not just from the British Museum but museums in general. This experienced explorer has some trouble identifying what object belonged in what collection sometimes.

Not with Hello Kitty! though. That was obvious. *ahem*

A recurring theme throughout the exhibition is Perry’s teddy bear, Alan Measles. Alan wasn’t there himself, but this cuddly deity – for Alan is indeed a god, after Perry visited Japan and decided to make his beloved bear a god for a “joke, but then I realised the idea had legs,” apparently.In Alan’s stead was a stand-in stunt bear, seated in Alan’s own “Pope-mobile” the AM1.

The AM1. Coolest transportation EVER.

Alan is not just Perry’s dei-teddy (see what I did? No? Oh well) but he is the guardian to the Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman. Here is a representation of him in that role.

He is supposed to be scary. He’s guarding a tomb, silly.

And here is the tomb itself; a Viking burial ship featuring casts of work from unknown artists complete with symbolic offerings of blood, sweat and tears.

The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman

Perry said he wanted this show to be an inspiration. It certainly has been.

You can see a badge from the Grayson Perry: Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the Museum of Museum Badges.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Sally Fung says:

    Wow, no wonder GP dressed down for the opening his work is mindblowing. The guardian teddy looking like an ancient fertility god did make me smile. I’m so glad I won’t have to explain that one to my nine yr old daughter. I do like his motorbike though.

  2. Sam says:

    Hey there fellow Kids in Museumer!

    Wicked exhibition! It really spoke to me….although that sounds like such a pretentious thing to say 🙂 I too have a teddy that has been through adventures with me and I also relate to the idea of a ship. The Sutton Hoo ship burial is what started me on my road to history, museums and the like. My boyfriend stumbled across your blog as he was downloading Perry pics as wallpapers for my new iPad. Spooky eh? Nice one Jack! 🙂

    1. Hello there! 🙂
      It was such a good exhibition, wasn’t it? Such a breath of fresh air for the BM, AND it kept in with the theme of ‘pilgrimage’ they have going on at the moment.
      Wow, how spooky! (I took it at the press opening so it’s allowed)

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