I was planning to blog about the exhibition I saw the other weekend at the British Museum, but I just wanted to take a moment to say that the friend I’m running for in the Race for Life in 11 days’ time (my former agent) sadly passed away this weekend. I was hoping that I’d have enough time to do the run and let her know I’d raised a huge sum for her, but sadly that wasn’t to be. Dot Lumley, sleep well and God bless, and you’ll be very sadly missed. (And if you want to sponsor me – and this race against cancer is REALLY personal, given that it took my mum and I’m also running for Amy Andrews’ mum – the page is at http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/katehardyauthor – no pressure but please wish me and my daughter speed on the day.)
Anyway, the exhibition. I’ve been lucky enough to visit both Pompeii and Herculaneum, so when I saw that there was an exhibition at the British Museum I definitely wanted to go. (Serendipity: there was a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth at the Royal Albert Hall on the same weekend. So yes, I did both. And Beethoven was awesome. I’ve blogged about it elsewhere, but in case you didn’t catch that here’s a pic of the orchestra and the choir, and it was FANTASTIC.)
The British Museum is one of my favourite places in London.
Now, I knew I was going to cry at the exhibition, because the plaster casts were going to be there (i.e. from when the archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli injected plaster into the ash deposits and it set in the spaces left by the people who died, making plaster casts of their bodies), and it moved me to tears at Pompeii itself (especially because the way the clouds loomed over Vesuvius gave us an idea of what those poor people saw as the volcano erupted). And I had a lump in my throat from the very first case, containing the plaster cast of the dog. (My spaniel got extra hugs when I returned from London.)
But some of the things were utterly fascinating. Like the jar used to fatten dormice.
And some of the foods they had – it’s not a great picture but these, believe it or not, are pomegranates. (Carbonised instantly by the pyroclastic flow.)
Another sad moment for me was the cradle – this is the only wooden cradle known from Roman times, and the baby was found inside tucked in a woollen blanket.
Then there were the mosaics. My favourite one from Pompeii (in fact, the one I insisted on finding first because I knew it was there) was the Cave Canem one (‘beware of the dog’) in the House of the Tragic Poet. This one’s from the House of Orpheus, and I loved it almost as much 🙂
And then there was the skeleton mosaic (askoi), holding two jugs of wine – pretty much a ‘carpe diem’ motif. (There were more but my pics aren’t brilliant – I loved the one with the octopus.)
Towards the end of the exhibition, the curators showed a selection of what people took with them as they tried to flee the eruption. One of them I thought readers of this blog would find particularly interesting – this is a Roman doctor’s kit.
And then, at the end, they had the plaster casts of the family – mum and dad trying to protect their two little ones. At that point, I had to send a text to mine telling them that I loved them. (And yes, I did cry. Immensely moving.)
From the shadows of Pompeii, we moved back into the main space of the British Museum, with all the light spilling through the roof.
And that was pretty much a perfect weekend – seeing a performance that was top of my bucket list, and an exhibition from a place that was also very high up on my list and I’ve been privileged to visit.
Have you seen an exhibition lately that’s moved you?