Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Terracotta Army 2

What can I tell you about our day out yesterday? Well, the China Warriors exhibition was very impressive. We got to the British Museum for 12.30 and came in through the rear entrance through an exhibition of Living and Dying in different civilisations. Here there were examples of the costumes, totems, sculptures, symbols and artifacts that people have surrounded themselves with in their everday and festival lives.

If you click on the photo above you should be able to read about the painted board below.

These are (I think) aboriginal grave markers or coffin markers.

I was amazed to see an Easter Island figure among the exhibits.

Before our allotted time slot for the Terracotta Army we had time to wander round the amazing Great Court. I can't tell you anything about the amazing metal sculpture shown above as it was effectively screened off but we were able to take some photos of the fantastic reflections over its surface.

The glass dome of the Great Court and the circular form of the central building which used to house the British Museum Library creates an amazing atmosphere and some fantastic shapes and juxtapositions of the old and the new. The light constantly changes too, even on a dull day as it was yesterday. Later in the afternoon huge lights were switched on at the top of the building.

Needless to say, I was fascinated by the stone the floors, walls and plinths were made of:

This is the surface of the floor tiles

and this is the surface of the wall tiles. I am sure some of these shapes must be fossils.

While I can't show you any images of the Terracotta Army I can show you figures which children made last October during visits to the exhibition

(Thank you to my DH for these photos) I really like the little chap in the front with his leg out to the side!
And what of the exhibition itself? When you walk into the exhibition space the lights are low and you walk up a slightly sloping walkway. As you walk you cannot see the exhibition but looking up you can see the sides of the dome and the galleries of bookshelves of the Reading Room in which the exhibition is staged. You can also smell a light air of old books! You arrive at a small flight of stairs and several display cases. I have to say, at this stage, my first impression was probably not as impressive as it might have been as there were quite a lot of people standing around the cases and I could not see exactly where we should go. As it was a security guard pointed out that a looped film was about to show on the outside wall and we gave our attention to that. Unfortunately we then managed to miss what would have been our first glimpse of a warrior housed in a glass case! Duh!
We processed past wall displays and artefacts which told the story of the life of Qin Shihuangdi and the absolute power he had over his subjects. He was, also, the founder of what was to become the nation of China and introduced many standards to unify the country.
You get glimpses of the terracotta figures as you get closer to them and their reality is quite stunning. They are not housed behind glass so you can see all the textures and surfaces without reflections getting in the way. Although the figures were mass produced their facial features, beards, moustaches, hair were all added individually so they appear to all be different. Some are bulky and some are slim. Hairstyles or headgear denote rank. A figure of a strongman is so solid and believable you can feel the strength in his arms and legs, even though the actual figure is headless. In a cabinet are beautiful bronze birds which were found by an artificial underground river.
I am pleased that we went to this exhibition. It was a memorable experience. I did find parts of it frustrating because of the numbers of people but hey! what did I expect? My DH found that he was taken by surprise in that he actually enjoyed himself even though he wasn't able to take photographs of the Terracotta Army.
Unfortunately, today my dear old weakest link has played up and I've had a happy time in the bathroom (not!). I'm assuming it's fatigue and I'll get over it. It's just frustrating when a good day out has to be paid for. Bleugh!!!! At least I managed to get to the hairdresser's before it started messing me about so now I can see out! :))


Lesley said...

Great photos Julie and the children's models are wonderful!

Hope you feel better soon,

Lesley xxx

Gina said...

Interesting to hear all about your day out Julie and pleased you both had a good day. Sorry to hear you paid for it yesterday though and hope you've recovered. The children's models are brilliant.
Gina xx

sharon young said...

Hi Julie
Hope you're feeling better. What a shame after such a great day out.
Thank you for all your wonderful pics, it was a treat!
I have definitely decided I must go and visit the TA exhibition.
Amazing reflections in those sculptures.

ancient one said...

I loved this post. I loved seeing it through a woman's eyes. (I had read your DH's post) I enjoyed seeing the tiles and reflections.