Thursday, 1 January 2009

Don't Judge a Book.... (or an exhibition)

Please excuse the delay in updating the blog, but I have been spending Christmas at my other home in Lisbon and showing my parents the sights for the first time, so have not had the chance to write anything.

Before we went away a friend told me about an exhibition on the 'Submerged Treasures of Alexandria' and I was surprised I had not seen anything advertised about such a significant subject.

Previously we had discovered an small exhibition on the obelisks of Rome that had equally suffered from a lack of pre-publicity, so had every expectation of seeing exactly what was promised by the large banner covering most of the front of the headquarters of the insurance company who were the exhibition host and sponsors.

Given the prominent location of the exhibition in the square immediately in front of the tube station and the statue of Fernando Pessoa, outside the cafe where the author sojourned, also got our hopes up. However, my suspicions were raised when the security guards were less than enthusiastic regarding my enquiries as to the opening hours of the exhibition and if there was an entry fee.

In its defence, I can say, having finally found the time to see the exhibition, it was free - and this was the best thing about it!

Rather than the sunken treasures promised, at best I expected the photographs of a Portuguese visitor to Alexandria or one of the blockbuster exhibitions of the treasures put on by an American museum. Instead we were greeted by the hackneyed and derivative contemporary art installations of a group of Portuguese artists who may or may not be famous (they could be graduate students for all I know).

Sand trays on black paper looking like a primary school art class and strips of driftwood painted gold do not constitute art. Small, derivative and entirely uninspiring, it is no wonder the visitors we met coming out were engaged in the universal language of shaking their heads and looking thoroughly confused.

Next time I travel I will take my own advice and check out the exhibitions beforehand or stick to using Minerva's guide to current exhibitions. I suggest you do the same.

On the plus side, having gained a distinction in my Masters dissertation I have decided to press on with my application for PhD research in Cultural Policy and Management at City University.

One of my first priorities on my return was a meeting with the senior research supervisors of the department, Dr's Juliet Steyn and Jenny Kidd. Fortunately they were enthusiastic about my proposal to research UK and international laws and regulations governing the trade in antiquities.

I hope to publish both my MA dissertation (once I have corrected my own glaring errors only noticed when I collected it from the School of Surveying at Kingston University in the new year)
and my PhD proposal if accepted to City U.


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