“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!
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.
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.
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.
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.