Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Hall of Bright Carvings

I read about this exhibition in the Observer, a little article accompanied by a picture of the car or the eagle, I can't remember. The first thing that sprang to mind was the Hall of Bright Carvings. I was keen to go, and when I saw that it was only a ten minute walk from work that settled it.

I’m a bit wary of small galleries and it was weird compared to the anonymity of a bigger gallery, to stand there next to the gallery owner in a room that was maybe only just twice the size of my living room. But the owner (Jack) was a thoroughly nice guy, very chatty about the whole phenomenon.

My favourite was the aeroplane - would they take the wings off to bury it, I wondered, otherwise you’d be looking at digging a seriously big hole in the ground. It wasn't built for a pilot but for an old lady whose unfulfilled wish it had been to fly in one. Others were more representative of their final occupant, lions were popular for warriors and the eagle was for a king.

Another sign of my advancing years, the gallery owner seemed so young. Which brings us naturally enough to mortality and death. Until quite recently it’s fair to say that I spent too much time worrying about death. No matter how long you contemplate it I don’t think you can ever get your head round it.

When I would turn my mind to the practicalities of it all I thought I'd like to be buried, and I previously imagined a cardboard coffin. Now it seems a shame not to try to come up with some everyday item, a freakishly large wooden version of which I could be interred in. Maybe a cigarette packet. Benson and Hedges. As I’ve repeatedly said, I don’t really smoke, but I do enjoy my lapses and I’m pretty certain that the best part of two decades that I spent idiotically puffing away will be at the root of my demise.


  1. I know what you mean about small galleries.

    Are these replicas of the 'used' ones - or are the owners still alive?

  2. They're replicas intended for display and made of harder wood than actual, functional ones. The owner said a couple in the show had been sold to museums (in Scotland and Spain, I think).

    It's been a few years since I've been to the British Museum but apparently they've got a couple in there as well - one of which is a giant Nikon camera, I've got to see that.