The Kelsey’s Ugly Object of the Month

Suzanne at the Kelsey had mentioned this blog post idea when I visited last month. I’m glad it came into being because ‘ugly’ objects can be very important–sometimes more important than pretty ones!
Enjoy this post on Aphrodite and her prosthetic legs!

The Kelsey Blog

BY SUZANNE DAVIS, Curator for Conservation, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

Beauty isn’t everything at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology; we value all evidence of life in the ancient world, even when the object is, erm, ugly. This month’s ugly object is an Aphrodite figurine made from copper alloy (aka bronze).

Figurine of Aphrodite. Bronze. Late 3rd century AD? KMA 10888. Before treatment. Figurine of Aphrodite. Bronze. Late 3rd century AD? KMA 10888. Before treatment.

I would never argue that Aphrodite herself is unattractive, but this figurine has seen better days. It was severely corroded when excavated at Karanis, Egypt, in the 1930s, and the legs were in pieces. Sometime after excavation, the corrosion patina was stripped with an electrochemical treatment that was once popular for archaeological metals. This resulted in a dull, brown, pitted surface with multiple holes.

Fast forward to 2015, when this object was chosen for a special exhibition. We wanted to reattach the feet and other fragments, but the…

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Art in Bloom (Greece and Rome)

Continuing with on my floral and spring theme, today I present the four floral arrangements that were in the Classical galleries.  These cover more square footage than the Egyptian space and more floral designs could be incorporated.

Inspired by Aphrodite of Cyrene
Floral design by Carol Inskeep

Orchid arrangement inspired by the marble statue of Aphrodite

Orchid arrangement inspired by the marble statue of Aphrodite

Photographing against a sunny background is not ideal, but you see Aphrodite as an elegant silhouette. Placed behind her was an arrangement of white orchids coming out of glass vessel placed in a square container with blue glass pebbles…   just like the beautiful goddess emerging from the sea! I thought this design very witty and elegant. (My fave of those in the Classical galleries.)

Inspired by Head of a Woman in the Guise of a Goddess
Floral design by Gene Harbaugh

Floral arrangement next to the bronze head of a woman

Floral arrangement next to the bronze head of a woman

This design is well paired with the bronze female head, especially in terms of colour. It is simple, elegant and feminine, but not overly so. A sort of wreath. Yet, the squat bouquet leaves me wanting more…

 

 

Inspired by a Greek Hydria
Floral design by Sally Robinson

Arrangement of dried flowers inspired by a water jar (hydria)

Arrangement of dried flowers inspired by a water jar (hydria)

This one left me thoughtful… the dried flowers were an interesting component playing with the earth-tone colours of the ceramics in the gallery.  However, the fact that a hydria is a jar used specifically for carrying water is lost (although the vase was the colour of the seas).

 

 

Inspired by Herakles
Floral design by Jinny Marino

Flowers for Herakles

Flowers for Herakles

Interestingly, the use of the anthurium, a plant with a rather phallic red spadix, brings a touch of masculinity to the arrangement. Well, it is inspired by a statue of Herakles, a very burly one at that!  The added metal elements make reference to the Herculean strength of our marble man. Pun intended.  Herakles is the Greek version of Hercules.

I have come to the conclusion that my favourite floral arrangements at Art in Bloom were simple with crisp and elegant vertical lines; very contemporary looking.  Enjoy the arrival of spring!