"To many, perhaps to most people, 'Celtic' of any sort is a magic bag into which anything may be put and out of which almost anything may come. Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight".
Is there a more marvellous way to open the British Museum's latest exhibition on Celtic art than this quote by J.R Tolkien, hung beside the entrance to the exhibition and alluding to the mystical possibilities of a bygone era of druids and early Christianity?
Beyond the wall is 2,500 years of mystery and magic: ancient cauldrons decorated with myths, shields and swords adorned with abstract metalwork and imposing Celtic crosses that loom over you.
The exhibition is filled with wonders: here are dazzling horned helmet and great Gundestrup cauldrons from Denmark, special spoons used by fortune tellers for predicting the future, foreign Gods from Asterix and Obelix. Here are wild boars, roaring lions and bird-headed men.
Some people will feel that the British Museum is trying to do too much. In exhibiting everything that could reasonably be described as ‘Celtic’ (a term first used by the Greeks to describe barbarians) the exhibition lumps together the varied peoples of Western Europe from before and during the Roman occupation; explores the Victorian revival of Celtic culture and also unravels why peoples from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and the Isle of Man self-identify as Celtic today.
The idiosyncratic abstract decoration will thrill art-historians and the magic of ancient people will feed childish imaginations. Family stations encourage kids to listen to the sounds of the trumpet-like war horns, discover monsters in decorative swirls and ogle at the kind of chariot Boudicca would have ridden to war on.
Bolstered by significant loans from across Europe, this is the first major exhibition of its kind in 40 years to get to grips with Celtic Identity and its resonance in Britain today - a show not to be missed!
Suitable for ages 6+
|What||REVIEW: Celts: art and identity, British Museum|
Great Russell St, London, WC1B 3DG | MAP
|Nearest tube||Tottenham Court Road (underground)|
24 Sep 15 – 31 Jan 16, 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
|Price||£16.50 adults, £13 16 - 18 years, free under 16s, £13 students|
|Website||Click here to book tickets|