Long time, no blog.
It has been quite hectic lately what with craft fairs, work and life in general really. I’m not making it a resolution to write more blogs and be more consistent with it, I feel that would set me up to fail. Looking at my site, it was August when I last wrote a blog; I’m definitely due to write another!
The weekend of 14th and 15th December, I went on a mini/city break down to London. Just me, I usually go with my mum, but for this trip I wanted to go on my own. What does get me, is that when I say I’m doing something like this, most reactions are “You’re brave.” I’m not. It was a coach trip, there are other people, some of them are single travellers too. I find those who go off into the world with just their passport and backpack brave.
So anyway, this trip to London was to go and see the Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery.
Thinking about it, I have always had a slight fascination with Ancient Egypt. Whether it’s because I learnt about it at school (the main memory was watching the Michael Jackson video, Remember the time), watching the amazing TV show Stargate: SG1, along with the film that came before or watching The Mummy films as a teenager. I have always found their mythology and culture interesting, so to be able to go and see items that were buried with the most famous pharaoh of all time was too good a chance to miss.
The upside to a coach trip is that you’re not driving. All you need to know is when the coach is picking you up. The downside is the time it takes, especially at the start of the trip. I was picked up at 8am Saturday morning, which made a change. Usually I am one of the first pick ups, this time I was the fourth. At least it meant I wasn’t going to be the last off. That can be a downside too; the travelling home.
Anyway we were slightly ahead of time, I had arrived at the pick up 15 minutes early and the coach came 5 minutes after, our next pick up (Preston), the passengers were there waiting. The following pick up (Leyland), although they were there, we discovered that the driver had missed picking up two passengers at Preston. So, we had to wait. And we were doing so well! The final pick up point was at Knutsford services, where we met a feeder coach.
Then it was off to London.
The journey was fine, we made a slight detour, as we were supposed to go down the M6 Toll but there had been a incident, so it was just the M6. It didn’t matter, we arrived at the Holiday Inn at Heathrow at around 2:30pm. I would also like to point out, there were comfort breaks on the way down.
There was a slight issue: some of the rooms were not ready. Mine was. I was on the ninth floor overlooking London (in the distance) and Heathrow airport.
On these weekend trips, the coach goes into London, as most of the passengers have booked to see a show in the West End. I had the option to go, but I would have to wait a long time to be picked up, so I stayed at the hotel. I had brought a bit of a picnic and I just chilled for the evening and watched the Strictly Come Dancing final.
We left the hotel at around 10am, there were seven of us booked for the exhibition and we were to be dropped off first. Those who were left were dropped off near Hyde Park for a day of shopping or sightseeing. Luckily the weather was sunny unlike Lancaster, which had snowfall during the night.
The queue to get into the gallery was long, but we weren’t waiting too long. Once inside, there was another queue and the opportunity to have your photograph taken on a green screen. I’m not one for having my picture taken, but on this occasion I did. Well, I can always say no to the pictures if I didn’t like them.
I waited another 10 minutes before being shown into a large room with a big screen. It was an introductory film to the exhibition, along with the dos and don’ts like cameras with a flash, etc. Once the film had finished, we were shown into another room where the exhibition began…
I don’t want to give too much away, the exhibition is running at The Saatchi Gallery until May 3rd 2020 before it all goes back to Cairo.
The Tutankhamun Exhibition
Wow! What an incredible exhibit. On the walls were extracts and quotes from Ancient texts, like The Book of the Dead: O you doorkeepers who guard your portals, guide Tutankhamun and open the portals for him. – Spell 127 Book of the Dead.
There were items like a bed, wooden but had gold leaf all over it. There was also a small chair, with ebony and ivory inlay. It was small, as the Tutankhamun became King at the age of 9, they had to make appropriate furniture. The opulence was mind-blowing; all this was made thousands of years ago and to be fair, most of it still looked in good condition.
Altogether there were five galleries, one concentrated on Carter’s discovery, the tomb and timeline, another just had a huge stone statue of the King. The gallery that I enjoyed the most, was where the jewellery was on display.
This item is made of: gold, silver, carnelian, turquoise, lapis lazuli, green feldspar and glass and is dated during the reign of Tutankhamun: 1336-1326 B.C.
I was aware that the Ancient Egyptians used the gemstone lapis lazuli, but I didn’t know that they used other gemstones in their jewellery and decorations.
This piece was made from gold, chalcedony, glass, carnelian and lapis lazuli, it is 8.5cm in height, 9cm wide and the chain is 65cm long. All I can think of is the weight of wearing these pieces.
This bracelet is made with lapis lazuli, gold, green feldspar, carnelian and glass. Just look at the detail of the scarabs and the tiny beads of the bracelet.
As a jewellery maker, I know how to set stones and I have a feeling that the method of setting stones and soldering that I use won’t be very different to what the Ancient Egyptians did to create wonderful, detailed pieces.
After the Exhibition…
I was in there for a good couple of hours and like most exhibitions, you exit through the gift shop.
I bought three pictures of me standing infront of Egyptian landmarks; Valley of the Kings, the Pyramids and the Sphinx. You don’t have to buy the pictures, but I did as I thought it would be fun. I also bought a pin badge (I love collecting them) of the Tutankhamun sarcophagus (it wasn’t overly detailed!!) and a souvenir book too, I did want to buy another book, as it looked amazing. I didn’t get it, as it cost quite a bit. There was an opportunity to buy a jar of Egyptian sand though! Yes, you read right.
Almost spent up, I had a bite to eat in the gallery cafe. The coach was picking us up at 3:30pm and by this time, I had two hours to kill. Luckily, the sun was still out. I didn’t want to venture far, so I popped into a couple of shops nearby, I went into a department store… I honestly don’t think I have seen so many people in a shop, I only managed about 15 minutes.
After a wander, I sat near the pick up point. It looked like other coaches had it as their pick up point too, as there was quite a lot of people waiting. Our coach came on time and we were on our way home.
To cut a long story short, we left our pick up point at the gallery around 3:30pm and I was dropped off in Lancaster at around 10:15pm. To just point out, we did stop at the M6 Toll Services and at Knutsford Services.
I cannot recommend the Tutankhamun exhibition enough. Primary school children learn about the Ancient Egyptians and if you are able to get to London before it finishes, please do. I also have some ideas for jewellery making, all I need to do now is make space at home so I can get back into silversmithing.
It also turns out that November 2020 marks 100 years since Howard Carter discovered “wonderful things“. What a year it would be to discover these treasures for yourself.
Part of the journey into the afterlife, Ancient Egyptians believed that you die twice. First, your mortal body and secondly, the last time your name is spoken. The Boy King will live forever…
If you are interested in going: https://tutankhamun-london.com/