Saturday, June 22, 2013

Welcoming Summer the Egyptian Way

Once again we didn't make it to Stonehenge yesterday for the Solstice, but my favourite Londonist website Things to Do in London Today which sends a message into my inbox at 7 a.m., Monday through Saturday — Sunday is covered in Saturday's Weekend edition — offered an invitation to the Eye of Ra: A Midsummer Rite sponsored by University College of London's Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. Despite good intentions of visiting for many years, I had never been to the Petrie.

Meanwhile, whilst doing some morning errands, Bob came home all enthused that the new design London bus was being launched on the 24 Route in South End Green this morning. And since the 24 bus takes us to UCL and the Petrie Museum, what could be a better day out in London.

The shiny new London bus, designed by Thomas Heatherwick. There are staircases front and back, plus an open platform at the rear that can be used to hop on and off the bus in stopped traffic like the beloved, but retired, Routemaster buses allowed passengers to do, but only when a conductor is on duty on the platform. That's the intended plan anyway. 

Here is the Eye of Ra on the roof terrace of a UCL building . . .

. . . where we could post our requests to Ra for his intervention

We arrived early before the music and entertainment programme, but not before the excellent free food and drink.  A healthy mixed grain and vegetable and nuts and seeds porridge. And Black Cocktails that were an interesting mix of vodka, almond milk, with a spritz of chili and licorice flavouring. Thank you Ra. He replied with some gusts of wind and a very brief torrent of rain.

Jeremy Bentham opted to remain in his purpose built closet for the celebration.

Then on to the Petrie Museum itself, which in any other  place would have been a world class museum instead of crammed into a few small rooms in the University's science library. Flinders Petrie was a professor of Egyptian Archaeology and Philology at UCL from 1892 to 1933. Petrie's lengthy Wikipedia entry includes reference to his controversial beliefs, disagreements with other Egyptologists, and the tale of his missing head. 

 These Coptic Socks date from c. 400 AD. Last year the museum had a workshop to knit the socks,
and this link gives you the instructions and some history. 

The museum is currently hosting an art installation mounted by their Artist in Residence Cathy Hayes, who prefers the title Timekeeper in Residence to match the subject of her work entitled A Report on Progress which catalogues the variety of ways Time and Progress have been modeled, shaped, symbolised, illustrated in different eras by scientists, philosophers, theologians, historians, and artists. This photo includes planetary models, timelines, arrows, and lots of red string linking artefacts. Fortunately there is a Timekeeper website that links to explanations through the project including a link to the artist's A Storm is Brewing blog. I am going to study all of this before a return visit.

These figures are modeled on illustrations on a medieval timeline.

When all is said and done, this bird has remembered
to bring an essential umbrella for  his eternal life in London.