I love the British Museum. Love it love it love it.
During GCSE Art, I’d go camp out in the South East Asian gallery and just draw stuff. Not very well, I hasten to add – my Art report always called me ‘bold’, a nice way of saying ‘can’t draw a straight line if she tries’. I’d sit and stare at gods with more arms than sense, at the ten-headed demon carved in ivory, at elephant-headed Ganesh and the serene smile of Chubby Buddha, Skinny Buddha, Teaching Buddha, Crowned Buddha and all Buddhas in between.
At RADA, the British Museum was a place to run away from the chaos. During lunch breaks, I’d sneak down to the Islamic Art section and stare at plates adorned with great swirls of text, and wonder whether, if you understood the words, interesting messages or parables would be revealed as you ate your way down to the porcelain below.
Now, it’s where I go with friends to have fun. When my Medic Mate went to Nepal for a few months, there was a veritable battle between her friends for the honour and privilege of borrowing her British Museum membership card for a few weeks at a go. When I met the father of a friend, it was in the Mesopotamian section, sat on a bench between two roaring Hittite lions. ‘By the pony’ is a standard statement for setting a meeting place, the pony in question being a little Roman chap on top of a marble horse. I love the Japanese prints, including the modern-day ones of cityscapes and towers, rendered in the same style as ancient drawings of Mt. Fuji by long-dead masters. I could stare at the intricacy of carved scenes in green jade, or try for hours to follow the pattern in red lacquerware in the Chinese section.
I love the British Museum. I will never, ever get bored there.