Monday, December 8, 2008

Review: Babylon at the British Museum

Some say big exhibitions at the British Museum often look dry compared to the Tate Modern’s blockbusters or V&A’s fashion shows, but I thought Babylon was outstanding. It certainly deserves blockbuster status since the impression it leaves is of the inevitability of human nature and self destruction; as relevant now as it was thousands of years before we even started counting them.

The curators have expertly chosen to include art, poetry, audio tracks, and accessible, concise explanations to charge our interest in the ancient architectural relics. By evoking the imagination as well as the mind, a vanished civilization becomes reconstructed.

Some of the exhibits have never been seen in Britain before, and include awe-inspiring glazed brick panels from the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way, and a typographically stunning tablet describing the New Year celebrations in the city. With many such objects on display, the show aims to give visitors a real taste of everyday Babylonian life and culture.

Famous myths and stories are also explored including the Hanging Gardens, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, together with some of the incredible Babylonian achievements that are still with us today. Try to imagine life without the the 60 second minute and 60 minute hour and you'll begin to appreciate just how much we owe to the people of Babylon...

As an aside, one of the images from the exhibition, pictured at the top (Julee Holcombe's "Babel Revisited') reminds me of a piece of work I did for the Financial Times pictured below.

Babylon: Myth or Reality on show at the British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG until March 15 2009.

1 comment:

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