Museums, and theoretical stealing
April 28, 2010
Posted by on
I think it was Kate who first got me to play the ‘if you could only take one thing home from this exhibition, what would it be?’ game, which made me think I was a simpleton for never having thought of it before (it was about three years ago). I remembered it today, wandering around the Museum of Islamic Art – which, incidentally, is a very misleading name, because it makes me think of paintings and stuff. I don’t do paintings and stuff. It took me about thirty years (if we accept that, as a baby, I was squinting at drawings of Spot and not being impressed) to come to terms with the fact that I don’t really like paintings and stuff and therefore I should probably stop forcing myself to go round galleries. Hence, on this trip, I have seen the inside of not a single art gallery and I don’t care who knows it.
Tangent. Tangent. I’m far too fond of tangents. Anyway, the Museum of Islamic Art is actually much more like the British Museum in the sense that it’s full of stuff that has historical signficance, some of which is shiny. I found the shiny stuff quite quickly. If I don’t like paintings, I definitely like shiny. But the thing I would take away with me, were I conducting a smash and grab raid, would not be the incredibly shiny gold-and-bejewelled parrot – oh, wait, it’s not a parrot at all, it’s a falcon. That’s why I was having incredible trouble finding a photo to show you –
(Image from here)
And this isn’t even what I’d take home. No, I’d take home one of the beautiful pen boxes. Possibly the brass one, with silver and gold inlay (so it is still quite shiny) with intricate engravings of men on horses doing manly things, and then depictions of men writing along the sides, plus lovely geometric designs in between. Came from Iran or Syria in the 16th century if memory serves (and I’m not about to start taking notes in museums. I’m fond of you all, but not to that level). A pen box. I think I like the idea of pen boxes having survived alongside all the fancy jewels and religious artefacts. Pen boxes and inkwells. That says a lot about a society.
From Kyoto’s Kaleidoscope Museum, I think I would steal one of the simple little ones with dried flower heads and leaves in the end. The cell. That bit. They were made recently by a woman designer whose name I forget (see previous paragraph; also museum website is almost entirely in Japanese so I can’t look it up). The flowers made more beautiful patterns as they were randomly turned than any of the huge sparkly musical ancient ones. I can’t remember what I’d nick from the Luggage Museum. I was there about five weeks ago, for god’s sake. Although if I could smuggle the whole thing – building and all – out of the country I would. It’s just adorable.
These may be the only museums I’ve visited on my whistlestop and partially accidental tour of many continents. You may wonder what the fuck I’ve been doing with my time. Quite a lot, actually.