I started with a visit to the British Museum to see their exhibition 'Celts : Art and Identity' which I found very interesting.
|Hunterston Brooch - AD 700-800 (c) National Museums of Scotland|
The exhibition is broadly chronological, and makes the point that 'Celt' has had different meanings and implications at different periods, and did not originally include the countries or regions, such as Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany or Cornwall which we think of, today, as the Celtic countries!
It includes exhibits illustrating the exchanges of ideas and influences between different cultures - Roman flagons found in Celtic burials, Torcs showing different styles, including those with Roman and other influences, Roman monuments and jewelry showing Celtic influences, and also information about how the styles varied between those part of the British Islands which were conquered by Rome, and those which were not.
|St Chad gospels Vellum AD 700–800. (c) Lichfield Cathedral|
One of the most dramatic exhibits is the Gundestrup Cauldron, loaned by the National Museum of Denmark, which has amazing scenes inside and out, of gods and hunters and animals and faces - it is truly stunning, and it is astonishing to think it is over 2,000 years old!
|Gundestrup Cauldron : Denmark 150 BC(c) National Museum of Denmark|
After visiting the exhibition, (which I strongly recommend), my next event was at the National Theatre - they are holding a series of 'Platforms' with various politicians, actors, directors and others speaking about their work.
The one attended was hosted by Andrew Marr,publicising his book, 'We British : The Poetry of a People' , following on from National Poetry Day on Thursday.
Marr explained that he had looked at the British Islands, not simply England, in order to be able to look at the different facets of the current country's history. He introduced each poem, and stated that he had chosen the poems for the evening to try to include some which might not be familiar, by poets who were perhaps not the best known (so nothing from Shakespeare, for instance).
The poems were read by Mark Gatiss and Fenella Woolgar, with additional, occasional comments. (John Donne, for instance? "Absolutely Filthy") Which, as he was reading 'To his Mistress going to bed', is fair comment! Other poems included Aphra Behn's 'The Disappointmentt' ("Probably the first poem in English about premature ejaculation - unsuitable for Radio 4") and poems of protest such as Walter Raleigh's 'The Lie' and A E Housman's gay protest poem 'The Colour of His Hair'.
As one would expect, the readings were excellent, and the comments were entertaining!
I had to rush off afterwards in order to get to the Theatre for Farinelli and the King, but it was a very enjoyable 45 minutes. And *very* reasonably priced - tickets were just £4 - I was surprised there weren't more people there, and if I lived in London and could get to the National more easily, there are several more Platforms I would be interested to attend.
Edited to Add: The National Theatre has now put a recording of the poetry event on soundcloud - here