Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

The next stop on my trip to Bristol was Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. I have always loved this museum, partly because of the quality of its collections and partly because of the sheer range of subjects covered. First I looked at the jewellery, and particularly liked this comb with metal convululuses. The jewellery collections at Bristol Museum haven't changed much since I was a child, but I like that. It's nostalgic to visit, and I don't really see the need for much change, as the objects on display are very high quality, interesting and inspiring. Unfortunately my camera wasn't cooperating that day so I couldn't get many good photos, but other highlights included black bog oak jewellery carved into an array of nature inspired designs,

a pin in the shape of a cat dipping its paws into a fishbowl, and a brooch in the shape of a tiny postage stamp.

No trip to the museum is complete without seeing my favourite exhibit, the Giant Irish Deer. Apparently its antlers often got tangled in trees, which I am not surprised by. They really are huge, and I love them. 

Of course, on my earliest visits, it would have seemed much bigger-I remember visiting the Deer when I was a toddler!-although it still looms over me even now!

I really liked this sewing box in the shape of a piano. I have a strange liking for miniature things, and things in the shape of other things, and sewing related things, so this ticked all of those boxes. It was really beautifully made from gorgeous wood, and the items inside were so pretty! I wish my sewing tools looked as pretty as that! I might have to do some customisation after seeing these. 

There was more pretty jewellery on display in the upstairs galleries. I am such a magpie.

There is a temporary display of Roman objects found in and around Bristol at the moment, including these brooches. So many of the objects were in very good condition, it is amazing to think they were buried in the ground for centuries.

I always gravitate towards the galleries with Chinese and Japanese objects, and this visit was no different. I'm noticing a change in my tastes though-I used to go straight for all the colourful, painted porcelain, whereas now I prefer the Yixing and celadon pieces. The subtle colours are lovely, and they have a sort of peaceful quality to them. I like the quality of the Yixing clay as well, it is very pleasing.

As I am a dragon in the Chinese zodiac, I always have to take at least one dragon photo. I hadn't noticed this metal dragon head before, but it is very striking and beautifully crafted.

The natural history galleries were revamped recently, and I like how the butterflies have been displayed. So many colours! I want to paint them all!

One of the reasons I love Bristol Museum so much is the wonderful Edwardian/Art Nouveau architecture. There are so many interesting details, and a lot of shapes taken from nature.

These waterlily lights were beautiful. There is so much attention to detail in this building, even in places where you wouldn't normally look.

All of the lights have quite floral shapes. I especially like the hanging ones, they look so gorgeous from every angle.

Another section of the museum which underwent some significant changes in recent years is the Egyptian gallery. I used to be absolutely terrified of this section and couldn't go in, I guess because of stories about mummies coming to life. I was pleased to find I now have no such issues, and I thought the items were much better displayed than the handful of times I managed to get around the gallery in the old layout. There were lots of children in the gallery, who all seemed fascinated by the objects. If children are interested it is usually a good sign!

One of the exhibits I had wanted to see was the Orpheus mosaic, found in the nearby village of Newton St Loe. Unfortunately, careless storage and transportation in the past (by other caretakers of the mosaic, not Bristol Museum and Art Gallery) means the mosaic is now very damaged. It was still very impressive though. So many tiny tiles!

There was a painting of what the mosaic would have looked like originally. Orpheus is in the centre, and the animals around him include a lion, deer, a bull, a bear and feline creatures, perhaps panthers.

I think this visit really proved to me that despite having been visiting Bristol Museum and Art Gallery for a long time, there is always something I haven't noticed before. The combination of undiscovered treasures, the gorgeous architecture, and the nostalgic, familiar feeling of being able to visit old favourites, makes it one of my favourite places.


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