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Day 7: Colossal feet

We’ve discovered there are lots of colossal feet in the British Museum collection. Mac and I were wondering why people collected these colossal feet, rather than other parts of the body. Is it that they are instantly recognisable? More interesting to look it? The touch point?

Eighteenth-century collectors would collect limbs as curiosities. One of the most famous sets is the Colossus of Emperor Constantine at the Palazzo dei Conservatori (Capitoline Museum) in Rome. There’s a colossal head, right hand, and foot of a seated statue.

By user:Lalupa (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By user:Lalupa (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Felix was reminded of Cassius’s speech in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (Act 1, Scene 2), describing Caesar’s tyrannical nature

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.

 

And while we’re on the subject of colossus, we shouldn’t forget to mention the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Maarten van Heemskerck [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Maarten van Heemskerck [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Day 7: and so it begins

I must admit to a slight fatigue at this point. But, along with that comes real and new enjoyment at the challenge of finding and illustrating a new story or thing each day.

Yesterday, as Harriet and I were chatting to a couple of visitors all the way from Suffolk, it dawned on me just how much our actual output has been governed by both the semi-random set of objects we selected to print, and the shape of the room and tables. The whole short practice has sprung from those two things. It’s interesting too, to note that the explorations themselves have gravitated towards the history of the British Museum’s collection itself, and not especially features of the objects. That’s a growing area of personal research interest on my part; how big museums have come to be, and the characters who formed them. Henry Salt, from Day 6, exemplifies the kinds of slightly shadow-y figures behind these incredible collections.

Bye bye, Henry Salt.

   

Hello, Colossal Foot.

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Day 6: Highlight Reel

We started by hanging Day 5, our RFID & Rosetta Stone craziness. We added a bunch of photos and wires and stuff to the hanging to try to give more of a sense of how it worked. (Day 5 is on the far left, Day 1 on the far right.)

Day 5 hung

It’s #museumweek this week too, and while we’re not directly participating (which is possibly an error), we were thinking we could align to today’s theme of architecture, so drew the House Post and Goddess Hathor out of the collection. After some research and thinking about potential storylines, we decided to continue the theme about how these objects came to be at the British Museum. Goddess Hathor was acquired in 1835 from Thebes, and brought to London.

Day 6 Object of Focus

We settled on the character of Henry Salt, who sold a great number of Egyptian antiquities to the Museum in the early part of the 19th Century, including this Hathor figure. He was also British Consul-General to Egypt. Harriet will follow up with a few of the facts we uncovered about him.

Henry Salt sold 1,659 things to the British Museum.

During our afternoon research, I discovered this fabulous book called The General Contents of the British Museum, published in 1762. It’s a rollicking blow-by-blow narrative walkthrough of the collection at that time.

We gathered about 115 images of objects that the British Museum purchased from Henry Salt, that’s less than 10% of the total, and arranged them on today’s museum.

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As we finish up for the day, I note our handy visitor tally too, and that two of our guests today have chosen the Colossal Foot for our work tomorrow.

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Day 6: A Handy-Book of The British Museum

They don’t write ’em like they used to.

The British Museum is filled to overflowing with almost countless “specimens,” or examples of WORK. The work is that of NATURE and that of MAN; but since man must always work only on the material that Nature gives him, the rudest flint that bears his mark upon it in its sharpened edge is counted as his work.

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