Posts Tagged ‘British Museum’

You can divide people up in various ways: political bias; meat and non-meat eaters; extrovert, introvert; artists, scientists – the list goes on and on but there’s one area that separates those of us that are with those who aren’t; those who have and those who haven’t and those people who do and those who definitely do not.
I’m not talking wealth here, I’m not talking opportunity; I’m talking Arctophiles. I’m one, so is my mother; my sister, not so much; my husband – absolutely not. What am I talking about, you may wonder? It’s bears; Teddy Bears to be precise.

EMy childhood bears snuggle up together in my bedroom like three old gentlemen snoozing in leather chairs at their private club after a satisfying luncheon followed by copious balloons of brandy. They’ve done their job as chief confidantes and now, in their twilight years, are enjoying a bit of peace and quiet. They’ve survived the ravages of being over-loved; their stuffing, in some cases, a distant memory; their leather pads wearing through. With failing sight through chipped brown eyes, they can sit back, relax, content in the knowledge that they will be rescued first in the event of major disaster.
We Arctophiles share an understanding of the friendship a bear can bring, and this was never brought home to me more than when I went to see Grayson Perry’s exhibition, “The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman”, at the British Museum last year. The exhibition was a pilgrimage through civilisation with artefacts from the Museum’s archive chosen by Grayson to illustrate the everyday art and craftsmanship of the common man, alongside which Grayson displayed his own unique pots, sculptures and tapestries.
As a young boy, Grayson invented a fantasy world with his teddy, Alan Measles, during which time the bear was the only constant thing in an often turbulent childhood. Grayson thought that if he was to create a pilgrimage through time, he should have a god to worship, and who better than Alan to fulfil the role.
Alan was to preside over the exhibition at the BM, but when it came to it, Grayson wouldn’t allow Alan out on his own and appointed a stunt double. Non-Arctophiles will think this is ridiculous – if the BM can house priceless works of art safely, then surely it can look after a threadbare stuffed toy. Well, no, it can’t. Bears can only be looked after by their owners: they are far too precious to be let loose in public, although Grayson did take Alan on a road trip to Bavaria on Grayson’s rather eye-catching motorbike.
The “Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman” was, I thought, wonderful, made all the more so because I had discovered a kindred spirit. I’m waiting impatiently for Grayson’s next project to materialise. I might, just might, take Favourite, my art-appreciating bear, with me. He and Alan would get along just fine.Grayson-Perry-on-his-Bike-006[1]

Read Full Post »