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Manga and the Museum

The latest temporary exhibition to grace Room 3 is well worth a visit if you haven’t been already – entitled ‘Manga now: three generations’, it’s the perfect introduction to an art form that most of us have heard of, but few of us understand.

It’s only relatively recently that the significance of manga as an art form has been widely recognised by the West – many people falsely assumed that manga equated to cartoons and was aimed primarily at children and teenagers. However, in Japan, manga is enjoyed by audiences of all ages and covers a wide variety of genres and societal issues.

In fact, the exhibition’s first surprise comes when it reveals just how far back Manga’s origins lie – the term was first coined by Hokusai (of The Great Wave fame) and can be playfully translated as ‘pictures run riot’. The art form was developed in the early 20th century but is based on traditional Japanese artistic and literary genres that stretch much further back – the narrative handscrolls that were produced from AD 1100 and illustrated printed books from the 1700s onwards.

Although the British Museum has collected manga for over 60 years, it has only recently begun to acquire drawings and paintings by contemporary manga artists. This display has been designed to celebrate these recent acquisitions, and features the work of three leading contemporary artists. Nakamura Hikaru is currently the seventh bestselling manga artist in Japan and represents the most recent generation of manga artists. Chiba Tetsuya is a specialist of sports manga that relate a young person’s struggle for recognition through dedication to sport.

Manga

Works by the three artists - Nakamura Hikaru, Hoshino Yukinobu and Chiba Tetsuya

In between these two generations we have Hoshino Yyukinobu, one of Japan’s best-known science fiction manga artists who also specialises in mystery. One of his most popular works has been Case Records of Professor Munakata, and following visits to London in 2008 and 2009, he decided to create a number of episodes set in the British Museum. In these, crime-fighting anthropologist Munakata Tadakusu investigates a spate of thefts from the museum. The British Museum Press had the pleasure of publishing these in English as Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure in 2011, and you can see some of the illustrations in the gallery. In this compilation of ten episodes Professor Munakata embarks on a series of exciting adventures at the British Museum, featuring some of its most iconic objects – from the Rosetta Stone to the Lewis Chessmen.

Professor Munakata visiting the British Museum

We hope that you learn as much from the display as we did, and enjoy seeing one of our books in the limelight! If you’re feeling inspired you can pick up a copy of Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure from the gift shop on your way out, or online here if you can’t wait til then!

Professor Munakata

Edinburgh Festival Fever

People all over the country have been gripped by Festival fever this month and we at the BM Press are no exception! Not one but two of our authors were invited to speak at the Edinburgh International Book Festival: Irving Finkel, the curator in charge of the British Museum’s collection of cuneiform tablets – the largest in the world – and Henrietta Lidchi, Keeper of the Department of World Cultures at National Museums Scotland.

Charlotte Square looking beautiful in the sunshine

Charlotte Square looking beautiful in the sunshine

In his sell-out event, Irving took his audience on a roller-coaster tour of the 3,500 year history of the world’s oldest writing system – cuneiform. With his trademark enthusiasm, he explained that the strange, wedge-shaped markings invented in Mesopotamia represent syllables and so can be used to record any language, from Sumerian to Spanish. He then pointed out that we can find a surprising parallel in modern text-speak, in which symbols have  once again come to stand in for syllables or even whole words – just look at ‘c u l8r’. The audience were left full of questions and many stayed behind to talk to Irving, have their books signed and admire the real cuneiform tablet that he had brought along with him.

Irving addresses a huge crowd in the tent

Irving addresses a huge crowd in the tent

Irving was similarly well-received at the National Museums Scotland, where he taught a group of 90 local schoolchildren how to write their own cuneiform inscriptions. They used plasticine and lollipop sticks rather than clay and reeds, but the results still looked as if they could have come from the museum archives!

An impressive effort from the Edinburgh schoolchildren!

An impressive effort from the Edinburgh schoolchildren!

The weekend also saw Henrietta Lidchi launch her wonderful book Surviving Desires: Making and Selling Native Jewellery in the American Southwest – the product of twenty years of research. She captivated the audience with her talk about the iconic turquoise and silver jewellery and the transformations it has undergone in response the competing desires of traders, tourists, curators and government agencies. The audience were fascinated and at the end many came forward with their own pieces of Native jewellery, which Henrietta was able to put into context for them.

Henrietta signing books after her event

Henrietta signing books after her event

Many thanks to Henrietta and Irving for taking part in the Festival and to the National Museums Scotland for hosting the schools event. We hope to be back next year!

If you would like to find out more about either of the books, just follow the links below:

Cuneiform

Surviving Desires

See our authors at the Oxford Literary Festival

A Little Gay History

Desire and Diversity across the

World

Richard Parkinson
Tuesday March 25th

A Little Gay History 3D mock-up - low-res

British Museum curator and egyptologist Richard Parkinson and author of A Little Gay History examines a series of artefacts to see what they tell us about love and sexuality in the ancient and modern world. How old is the oldest chat-up line between men, who was the first lesbian, and were Greek men who had sex together necessarily gay? Parkinson uses objects ranging from Egyptian Papyri and the Roman Warren Cup to work by modern artists including David Hockney and Bhupen Khakhar in his search for answers.

Parkinson is professor of egyptology at the University of Oxford and a curator in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, British Museum.

Find out more about the event and book your ticket!

The Cyrus Cylinder and

Ancient Persia

Tuesday 25th March
John Curtis

3d image - white background

The Cyrus Cylinder is one of the most famous objects to have survived the ancient world and has become a symbol of respect and tolerance for different peoples and different faiths. It was inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform at the behest of Persian King Cyrus in the sixth century BC and is often referred to as the first bill of human rights. It appears to allow freedom of worship in the Persian empire and for deported people to return to their homes.

The Cyrus Cylinder is held by the British Museum and was the centrepiece of an exhibition touring the United States in 2013. John Curtis, keeper of the British Museum’s Middle East collections and curator of the exhibition,  and author of The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia, explains the history and importance of the Cyrus Cylinder.

Find out more about this event

Parthenon: Power and Politics

on the Acropolis

David Stuttard
Thursday 27th March

Parthenon cover low-res

Classicist, author of The Parthenon: Power and Politics on the Acropolis and theatre director David Stuttard tells the dramatic story of the conception and creation of one of the world’s most iconic buildings, the Parthenon in Athens. It symbolises Greece today and, in the fifth century BC, was the embodiment of the power of the city’s empire and of its politicians, artists and citizens. Stuttard places the Parthenon in its historical context, examines its place in the wider ancient world and looks at its subsequent history.

Stuttard has a background in classics and drama. He is well known for translating and directing Greek plays and is also author of several books including AD410, The Year That Shook Rome; and The Romans Who Shaped Britain, both co-written with well-known archaeologist Sam Moorhead.

Find out more about this event

The Edinburgh International Book Festival 2013

EIBF Logo

We are delighted to announce that the British Museum Press will be a partner of the Edinburgh International Book Festival for the first time in 2013. Senior curator and head of the Roman collections Paul Roberts will discuss life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, deputy keeper of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic material Jill Cook will discuss groundbreaking works of art from the Ice Age, and world-renowned Shakespeare historian Jonathan Bate and curator of Renaissance Europe Dora Thornton will explore the world and works of William Shakespeare.

Paul Roberts

Paul Roberts

Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum

12:30pm on Monday, 12th August 2013 | Peppers Theatre | Adult Programme

New line

Jill Cook

Jill Cook

Ice Age art

arrival of the modern mind

4.00PM on Friday, 16th August 2013 | Peppers Theatre | Adult Programme

New line

Dora ThorntonJonathan Bate low-res

Jonathan Bate & Dora Thornton

Shakespeare

staging the world

New line

12.30PM on Sunday, 25th August 2013 | Peppers Theatre | Adult Programme

For full information on the above events and to find out more visit the Edinburgh International Book Festival website.

We hope to see you there!

Bath Literature Festival – 2-11 March 2012

While the outlook is cold and gloomy, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a bright spot on the horizon for literature lovers. The full line up for the Bath Literature Festival (2-11 March 2012) has now been released and as predicted, it looks fantastic. The British Museum Press is delighted to be joining up with this event for the first time and presenting lectures and talks from the Authors of three of our most recent releases.

The full programme is available here or read the rest of this entry for details of all featured British Museum Press events:

FRIDAY 9TH MARCH 2012

Indigo
Guildhall, G5
1.00pm – 2.00pm, This event has now sold out.

Writer, artist, traveller and lecturer, Jenny Balfour-Paul has researched and worked with indigo for over two decades. In today’s multi-coloured world, it is hard to imagine the incredible impact indigo must have had on the many civilizations that chanced upon it. Jenny uncovers all aspects of this subject: historical, agricultural, and scientific; sociological, medicinal, and folkloric.

Ticket holders can enjoy a FREE screening of Mary Lance’s documentary film Blue Alchemy: Stories of Indigo from 2.45 – 4pm.

SATURDAY 10TH MARCH 2012

David Stuttard on The Olympics
Bath Masonic Hall, H2
1.00pm – 2.00pm, £8 (£7 concessions)

Power: The power of the gods, the power of Greek cities, the power of the human body; all of these were celebrated at the ancient Olympic Games. David Stuttard gets up close and personal and shows us what it was like to be there, to witness the rituals, official banquets, bloody contests, victory celebrations and subsequent political parleys. This is your chance for a ringside seat.

How the Olympics Came to Be
The Holburne Museum, H8
1.15pm-2.15pm £5
Ages 5 – 10, children must be accompanied.

Join Helen East, storyteller and author, to hear all about the excitement of the ancient Olympic Games and the gods, heroic mortals and adventures that inspired them! Helen will be telling stories around the museum so seek her out and find out more about the origins of the Olympic Games.

Event bookings are now open, head to the Bath Literature Festival site for more information.

Competition: Win a signed copy of Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman

You may have seen the Grayson Perry exhibition at the British Museum (6 October 2011 – 19 February 2012), well now here’s your chance to win a signed copy of the exhibition catalogue Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman.

 

Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman

Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman

 

Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry uses the seductive qualities of ceramics, tapestry, metalwork and other art forms to make stealthy comments about societal injustices and hypocrisies, and to explore a variety of historical and contemporary themes.

Offering an insight into the artist’s fantastic imaginative world, the book draws on themes such as pilgrimage, transvestitism, shamanism and tomb guardians to take the reader on a journey to an imaginary afterlife.

Including an introduction by Grayson Perry and lavishly illustrated with over 200 colour illustrations, this book takes us to the fantasy world of a contemporary artist who never fails to challenge and unsettle his audience.

It is the perfect accompaniment to the exhibition and a great showpiece for your book collection.

To win a copy of Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman, signed by Grayson Perry himself, please comment below and answer the following question:

What is the name of Grayson Perry’s 50 year old teddy bear?

Competition closes Sunday 15th January 2012 at 5.00pm GMT. The winner will be drawn and notified by Tuesday 17th January 2012. The winner will be selected at random providing they answer the question correctly.

For more information and to book tickets for the special exhibition Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman (6 October 2011 – 19 February 2012) , head to britishmuseum.org/graysonperry

Shop this book and many other titles online through the British Museum Shop

Cheltenham Literature Festival

We may be half-way through the summer but today brings a welcome reminder that festival season is far from over. The full programme for this year’s Times Cheltenham Literature Festival (7-16 October) has just been released and as usual the line up looks fantastic – not least because it includes a great range of British Museum Press events!  From illustrated talks to curator lectures and children’s story telling sessions we’ll be at the festival from 13-15th October.

The full programme is available here or read the rest of this entry for details of all British Museum Press events:

Read the rest of this entry »