Saturday, 23 June 2018

By The Rivers Of Babylon

I have been very impressed by some of the enormous murals – tiled, painted, carved, moulded, and occasionally woven – that are to be found in the museums of Europe, often located in the calmer, less-visited galleries where the spoils of imperial archaeological raids on the riches of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Near East are to be seen. The grandest of these by far is the Ishtar Gate from Babylon, reconstructed in Berlin's Pergamon Museum, but huge slabs of decorated masonry can be seen in any of the larger city museums. A personal favourite is the Assyrian Lion Hunt relief in the British Museum, which is a truly sensational piece of work made in the 7th century BC. The skill and imaginative coherence of the work of these ancient artists, masons, and architects is really quite astonishing.

As you would expect, on my visits I've appropriated various bits and pieces, and mixed them up to produce my own, more modest visions. Obviously, I mean appropriated by using a camera, but I've been struck by how easily, at least in some institutions, someone equipped with a hammer could assemble a collection of actual bits and pieces. Certainly, someone, somewhere must once have had quite an assortment of prominent anatomical bits knocked off Greek and Roman statuary. Maybe they're all in a museum of comparative knobs and noses somewhere or, more likely, rattling around in some locked drawers in the Vatican?

The two pictures above are very recent, incorporating a lion from the Ishtar Gate (there are dozens of them on it, as well as other real and mythical creatures, all made of tiles); it has a very baleful, Blakean presence. The picture below dates from my earliest dabblings with photo-composites, around 2014/15, and uses a couple of figures from the Assyrian Lion Hunt. I still consider it a pretty successful effort: the technique may have evolved, but the song remains the same.


amolitor said...

The first lion appears to be something of an Anarchist. I approve.

Mike C. said...

Or has he just eaten one?


amolitor said...

I would have to ALSO approve of that. My feelings toward anarchists cover a lot of ground.