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Monday, 14 April 2014

COMMENT: The British Museum

The way to tackle the British Museum is to zero in on an exhibition, or a particular set of rooms - I did this last week. 

The Mitsubishi Corporation Japanese Galleries contain marvels, but Japan deserves better. The refinement, the incomparable gardens, the fabrics, the sheer volume of what is to be seen in Kyoto alone - none of this is conveyed in these sad, airless, sterile rooms. 

Vikings Life and Legend is an exhibition marvelously curated, admirable and clear, a revelation. The boats have such elegant lines, intriguing facts and artefacts, a boost to one's knowledge and imagination. 
A - The Viking Age defined as a period between the late eighth and late eleventh centuries during which there was an unprecedented movement of people out from the Scandinavian homelands. 

And what of the CP Cavafy poem on the Vikings predecessors centuries earlier?

Waiting for the Barbarians.
What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

            The barbarians are due here today.

Why isn’t anything happening in the senate?

[and the last two lines]
And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.

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