The Sculpted Word: inscriptions from the Britsh Museum
10th June 2001 - 15th September 2001
The Sculpted Word examines the art of inscribing as a form of sculpture. Inscribing involves the carving, marking or engraving of words in varying degrees of relief, so as to be conspicuous or durable. The nineteen items we have selected have diverse sources and vary in function from the ceremonial or commemorative to the mundane. The texts, which either confirm or transform an object’s status, include riddles, magical talismans, legal transactions, historical records, prayers, rituals and loving gestures in language forms that include cuneiform, runes, hieroglyphs, Ancient Greek and Latin.
The objects include a 4000 year old legal document in a clay ‘envelope’, a Mayan Lintel, an Egyptian Heart Scarab beetle, an 18th century love token, a Cartwheel penny and a bronze medal by Ian Hamilton Finlay. There are, however, many thematic and visual links to be made between these works and they are, above all, united in demonstrating the power that words can have.
In choosing such a wide range of objects, The Sculpted Word will reflect, in microcosm, the richness of the collections held at The British Museum. It will also provide visitors to the Institute with an opportunity to compare and contrast objects from diverse periods and cultures and to explore wider definitions of sculpture and the sculptural. This will be the first time that the Institute has exhibited sculpture from outside the Western tradition. This is the second collaboration with The British Museum and follows Homes for the Soul. On this occasion, Stephen Feeke from the Institute has worked alongside James Putnam and his colleagues across the ten curatorial departments at the Museum.
The collaborations with The British Museum are presented in alternation with new projects by contemporary artists. Following Siobhan Liddell (until 27 May), Bethan Huws will present new work for Gallery 4 from 27 September to 30 November. In keeping with The Sculpted Word and with her own interest in the forms and functions of language, Huws has been developing a text piece which she will write on the gallery walls.