Today has been all about museums, and not just because I was working in one, either, but because I came to a deeper understanding of why museums are such a vital part of our cultural life.
At the Royal Naval Museum, the exhibition text for Chasing Freedom is all written and today I held in my hands for the first time the mock-ups of the panels themselves. I'm not going to reveal any more because I want everyone reading to come and see the exhibition when it opens (on the 27th January 2007).
It struck me, looking at the combination of artwork, historical images, text and artefacts, that organising an exhibition has to be one of the best jobs in the world - not the easiest, by far, but one of the best. A good exhibition (and although I'm biased, I think Chasing Freedom will be an excellent one), it seems to me, is a combination of original artistic interpretation, engaging text and a strong core subject. In this way, museums can be the place where art meets education.
There are so many inspiring projects taking place for the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade next year, all across the country. Reviewing some of them on the DCMS website today, I decided that next summer, I am going to take a tour of the different exhibitions taking place nationwide so that I don't miss out on anything. Here are some of my favourites, click on the links to find out more:
- La Bouche du Roi (it means the 'mouth of the king') at the British Museum from 22 March to 13th May 2007
- William Blake and Slavery: A touring exhibition travelling nationwide, from the Hayward Gallery
- Kenwood House will be revealing the story of Lord Mansfield and his grand-niece, Dido - a young woman of dual heritage brought up on the property - and exploring Lord Mansfield's legal victories for abolitionists in England
- Even Parliament are getting in on the action with their own exhibition on the battle within Parliament to abolish the slave trade
- Uncomfortable Truths is an exhibition that will run from 20 February to 17 June 2007 at the V&A
And for those of you who really don't think museums are your thing or just can't be bothered to leave the comfort of your computer chair, fear ye not, I have something for you too. The ominously named The Dark is an exhibition that can be downloaded onto your pc via the internet and experienced at your leisure. Unfortunately, the download is only available to those with Macs at the moment due to pc security issues, but I'm waiting to hear from the organisers about a CD Rom, so watch this space.
Slavery still continues today with an estimated 12 million people living in slavery across the world . The history of Britain's involvement in the slave trade reveals a legacy that continues to affect and to dictate racial relations across the West and across the world today. If you need any further information to convince you, I urge you to look at Anti Slavery International for an understanding of slavery in the contemporary world and Understanding Slavery for information about the Transatlantic slave trade.
Childishly funny fact of the day
In 1834, the Second Naval Lord was a man called Sir John Poo Beresford. Fact.
My Poem du Jour comes from C.P. Cavafy and is from 'Ithaka'. It's all about the importance of the journey over the destination, and reminds us never to take our eyes away from what we are travelling for, and not necessarily where we are travelling. I think it's beautiful.
As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery...
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you're destined for.
But dont hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you're old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you've gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvellous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
Today's Beautiful Things
1. The boy who made my mouth laugh, my eyes shine and my heart wonder
2. Learning to let another speak
3. Letting loneliness