Neolithic Art Exhibition at the British Museum

Wed, 29 May 2013

Neolithic Art Exhibition at the British Museum

I managed to get a ticket to see the Neolithic Art exhibition at the British Museum yesterday. Subtitled the "Arrival of the Modern Mind", I knew it would probably be one of the most important exhibitions I would ever go to, yet if I had left it just a few more days I wouldn't have been able to get a ticket! Note to self, don't leave it so late next time something else comes up.

The artefacts on display dated from around 40,000 to 10,000 years ago and were found at sites around Europe and Asia. It included female forms, animals, decorated tools and abstract images. Despite dating from the last Ice Age it was probably some of the most exquisite artwork I have ever seen. The detail and skill demonstrated was amazing. This work was clearly the result of a "modern mind" and its production must have been supported by social structures that valued artistry.

One of the many pieces that I particularly liked was the Bison carving shown above. Made of mammoth ivory, it is the most perfect representation of an animal you will ever see. Anatomically accurate, delicate, strong, bold and imaginative. The creator knew and respected the subject and must have studied it in detail. Can you believe it's 20,000 years old?

I can't imagine getting to see a collection like this again for a very long time. I did, however, manage to take a few photographs which I have shared on Flickr. Apparently there are some walk-up tickets available for the exhibition, but if you haven't managed to see it yet you may have to make do with the book published by the British Museum shop.

Author: Sean Clark