The Sculpted Word: inscriptions from the Britsh Museum
10 June – 15 September 2001
Carving, marking, embossing, engraving - The Sculpted Word examines the art of inscribing as a form of sculpture.
The nineteen items selected for the exhibition 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 reflects, in microcosm, the richness of the collections held at The British Museum. It will also provides an opportunity to compare and contrast objects from diverse periods and cultures and to explore wider definitions of sculpture and the sculptural.
This exhibition marks the first time that the Institute has exhibited sculpture from outside the Western tradition, in a second collaboration with The British Museum and follows Homes for the Soul. 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.
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