On a drizzly Thursday morning both lower sixth and upper sixth Classical Civilisations and History of Art girls, went on a trip to the British Museum. Protecting ourselves from the rain, we found ourselves scampering up the stone steps to take shelter in the beautiful portico of this grand Neo-Classical building. The day was spent with other groups of A Level Classical Civilisation students.
The trip consisted of learning more about the Parthenon sculptures and the Greek arts and crafts. In the morning we had two talks by different Classical Civilisations professors from King’s College University, London. The first talk, about Aphrodite of Knidos, described the feminine form and the depiction of Aphrodite at the time and a thorough analysis of the sculpture’s composition and context. The lecturer developed the notions of the relationship between this Aphrodite and representations of women (whether goddesses or not) across time to modern day. This linked to our learnings on Male Gaze Theory and on Nudes and Nakedness in Art over the last 2500 years.
The mosaic talk described the techniques of creating mosaics and the meaning of mosaics back in the Greek times. The lecturer shared with us how mosaics relate to other tecniques in stone and glass and this linked with our sculpture handling session later where we discussed the implications of sculptural and casting techniques.
In the afternoon we walked around The Parthenon Room and saw the incredible collection of sculptures Lord Elgin retrieved from Athens in 1801-1805. The amazing talent of the sculptors created a base for all the later artists who used the Classical Ideal as inspiration in their sculptures. For both Classical Civilisations and History of Art A-Level students it was vital foregrounding to be able to understand the sculptures then and later.
The best was saved till last, when we were separated into groups and had a session of handling some remains of sculptures from the Hellenistic and Classical Greek periods. We had to analyse different aspects of the sculptures and present back to the group. The analysis was divided into materials, form and composition and meaning and patronage. It was a very interesting and mentally stimulating day!
– Catalina Chiavari