Reflecting on another crazy busy year

You know you’ve fallen behind when the January/February 2018 issue of Archaeology arrives in your mailbox and you’re still not finished with the July/August issue!

It’s the little things that have fallen through the cracks this year. Things like reading Archaeology magazine and posting on my blogs. Mostly because I’m desperately trying to complete projects at work or volunteer stuff at home so that my schedule (life) can return to some kind of normality.  Each time I actually do complete a project, something else pops up to take its place.  Even though I say no to new endeavours or delegate tasks to others, things still pop up. Just like the heads of the Hydra in Greek mythology. You chop one off and two more sprout up.

It’s been another crazy busy year. The second one in a row. And I know a third one is coming along with 2018. I thought perhaps I should reflect on what I have actually accomplished this year so I don’t feel so bad from having neglected my dear readers. (I’m sure you won’t fault me for spending what little free time I may have away from the computer, taking a dance lesson, eating out with friends, walking in parks to exercise or sleeping in).

  1. An article co-authored with a colleague from the British Museum is about to see the light of day (proofs were sent back to the publisher a couple of weeks ago). The project started back in 2008 (!) but took forever to complete because of other museum tasks that take curators away from their research–mostly exhibitions, which can be very demanding–and sometimes health issues get in the way.
  2. A second article is about to see the light of day soon–proofs should be coming to me this week. This was one of those projects that popped up out of nowhere–a conference paper given as part of a panel discussion that was selected for publication. Can’t say no to that!
  3. An online journal has seen the light of day.  When things had come to a grinding halt, I offered solutions to fix the problem–yes, creating more work for myself. However, that is part of my work ethics: if I sit on a committee it’s because I actually want to accomplish the task given the committee. Luckily, once the problems were fixed, colleagues took up the tasks assigned to them and helped make this a reality. This took up loads of my time on weekends and week nights; however, now that we have a system and the journal has its platform, volume two should be much easier to deal with.
  4. Funds were raised so that my next big project is fully funded. Quite an accomplishment, that! It’s so hard to find funding these days, but I did not give up and working with a colleague who has the same work ethics made this a reality as well.  You’ll hear a lot about this project in 2018 because it will consume my life for the next three years–but it’s very cool and should have loads of blogging opportunities. (Time permitting, of course.)
  5. No consultants were strangled and I consider this an accomplishment because a couple have actually brought my patience to its limit!  :)

I’m very happy about the publications (excited to see them in print soon!), the new online journal, and securing funds for my new project. I can’t wait for my other big volunteer project (not mentioned here) to be over soon because that will free up personal time on weekends. Just knowing that I have brought the project to a point where I am satisfied that it can continue with minimal input on my part–without falling apart–is reassuring. I have done my part; others should roll up their sleeves while I supervise from a distance.

I hope the holidays give me time to read my issues of Archaeology magazine, post a few things for you wonderful readers and will help me recharge my batteries.
I may not have Iolaus to help me, but I’ll get you, Hydra… I’ll cauterise one chopped off  head at a time. Just you wait!

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International Museum Day 2017

In 2017, the theme of International Museum Day is  “Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums”.  In this day and age, It is a rather pertinent topic and here is how ICOM explain why museums are important institutions in our tumultuous world.

History is a vital tool for defining a given people’s identity, and each of us defines ourselves through important and fundamental historic events. Contested histories are unfortunately not isolated traumatic events. These histories, which are often little known or misunderstood, resonate universally, as they concern and affect us all.

Museum collections offer reflections of memories and representations of history. This day will therefore provide an opportunity to show how museums display and depict traumatic memories to encourage visitors to think beyond their own individual experiences. 

By focusing on the role of museums as hubs for promoting peaceful relationships between people, this theme highlights how the acceptance of a contested history is the first step in envisioning a shared future under the banner of reconciliation. 

 

Art in Bloom 2017: Mesoamerica

In my third and last post for Art in Bloom 2017, I’m sharing the floral design found in the Mesoamerican gallery.

Inspired by the Incense Burner
By Ailsa Tessier

It seems like all the floral arrangements ever designed for the Mesoamerican artefacts are always so elegant. This one is no exception. Inspired by the incense burner, you can almost see the smoke rising from the arrangement with the thin branches and the arum lilies in the vases in the back. With several vases, the arrangement has depth and texture fitting with the nature of the artefact and its purpose.  I like it.

And that’s it for Art in Bloom 2017!

Art in Bloom 2017: Greece, Rome and South Italy

In my second post about Art in Bloom, I am presenting the floral designs associated with artefacts from Greece, Rome and Greek colonies in South Italy.

Inspired by the Torso of Aphrodite
By Diane Joyal

Numerous people mentioned how wonderful it was that the designer had included a seashell-shaped vase for this arrangement.  I’ll admit that I did not even notice… because I was puzzled by the two vases.  The pale-coloured arrangement represented exterior forces of nature, while the darker one the ‘watery feminine domain of the inner world.’  I did not get it.  However, the roses and the myrtles are actually flowers associated with Aphrodite, so kudos for that.

Inspired by the Theatre Relief
By Erica Winston

I enjoyed the vibrant and contrasting colours of this arrangement, which, according to the label, matched the strong forms of the relief.  Considering that the relief is related to theatre, this is a great idea… although I do find that the forms in the relief are not that strong (especially when you see the relief straight on)!

Inspired by the Double Vase with a Central Handle
By EW Fulcher

Oh! This is my favourite of the ancient art inspired arrangements! Excellent work! I love how the designer replicated the shape of the actual artefact, but also mimicking the decorative lines painted on them. I would have loved to see pink flowers instead of the orange ones, simply to reflect the bright pink used on this wonderful South Italian vessel. It is such an astonishingly vivid colour! Okay, I’ll admit being somewhat biased because the South Italian ceramics were studied this fall and we’ll be analysing the bright pink pigment in the coming months!
This floral arrangement gets the ‘curator’s favourite’ ribbon!

Inspired by the Celestial God or Hero
By Steve Taras

I think it’s a bit too easy to use pale-coloured flowers to illustrate a white marble sculpture. Considering that the statue represents either Helios, the Greek god of the sun, or one of the Dioscuri–Castor or Pollux–the twins sons of Leda who are the patrons of sailors (who appear to them as St. Elmo’s Fire), also associated with horsemanship.  A bit more colour would have been appropriate and welcome.
That being said, Steve Taras won my curatorial ribbon last year with his spectacular mosaic of flowers… Not so this year.

And to end this particular post, l am adding another classically-inspired floral arrangement, but this one is neo-classical Roman goddess displayed in the European galleries. In this instance, the white orchids absolutely work, especially associated with the rattan structure that is both imposing and fragile. The design beautifully represents the goddess.

Inspired by the Venus Italica
By Carol Innskeep

 

The third and last Art in Bloom post will come soon!

 

Art in Bloom 2017: Ancient Egypt

This past weekend, the NCMA hosted its third annual floral fundraiser Art in Bloom. Once again, designers picked a work of art out of a hat and created a floral arrangement inspired by that artwork.  As I have done in the past, I visited the galleries for this colourful occasion and am presenting on An Archaeologist’s Diary the ones found in my ancient galleries.  Let’s start with ancient Egypt, shall we?

Inspired by the Inner Coffin of Djedmut
By Bonnie Mirmak

I must admit that this particular arrangement did not strike my fancy even though I like blue, indigo and purple flowers. The colours found on the coffin are reflected in the choice of flowers, but I found the arrangement too horizontal for such a tall and slim artefact. (Actually, the design made me think of a boat and there is an ancient  Egyptian model boat nearby.)  However, I did notice how some of the papyrus umbels were gathered and tied at the top and that reminded me of the white crown of Upper Egypt (Whether this was intentional, I did not know. The description references flowers found on coffins…)

Inspired by the Reclining Bull
By Avant Gardeners Garden Club

This was my favourite floral design in the Egyptian galleries.  I thought it was a wonderfully whimsical interpretation of the work–inspired not just be the colours but also the shape,  down to the horns! What made me smile was the little bell hanging from the plants gathered at the top.  A fun element that reminds us all of the bells around cows’ neck and the melodic sound of them moving around.  Nice job!  (And the club has a cool name, too!)