Ice Age Art: Arrival of the Modern Mind, is an exhibition held by the british museum, looking at some of the oldest works of art created by man.
It takes a look at how and why they were created, ranging from cave paintings to tools and sculptures. It is a fascinating experience, giving you the opportunity to get up close to the work of our oldest ancestors.

I was incredibly excited by the prospect of this exhibition, and certainly wasn’t disappointed by the number of artefacts there was to look at. A fantastic range of beautiful creations that seem to defy reality with their ability to be sitting intact in a museum after such an extraordinary amount of time.

I particularly enjoyed the sculptures of the female form. Even before this exhibition I was intrigued about these sculptures, and it really was a treat to see them in person. We are still unsure as to what exactly they were created for. Were they goddesses? Charms for good luck for fertility and/ or healthy children? Tools to teach children about female anatomy? Or, perhaps, sculptures to signify important/ life changing events?

The problem is that we will never be able to know. Our Ice age ancestors had their own language, culture and means of communication  All the information we need to understand what these pieces of art mean is their in front of us. We are just incapable of understanding it. We can theorise and make, probably pretty accurate, guesses. However, in the end, its true purpose will remain a mystery, until maybe we invent time travel.

One thing I found frustrating about the exhibition, was how damn little we know about the purposes of so many of the works. Their were quite a large number of sculptures that had been created and then ‘intentionally destroyed’. Despite there being so many of these creations that had been smashed for some purpose, it is completely unknown to us what that purpose was! Some theories suggest that they are smashed after the person the sculpture was based on has died, but then how does that explain the smashed animal sculptures? This was a pattern that became frustratingly apparent throughout the exhibition.

I found myself rereading the same information over, and over, and over again, on different plaques. And so often the wall of text would end with a very similar, ‘we don’t know’, or some variation of. I kept reading the plaques out of fear of missing some new information, but their really wasn’t much else that could be said. They just kept rehashing the same information.

I feel that they could of saved a lot of time and made what was being said seem significantly less mind numbing by having one block of text at the beginning of each section, and then smaller amounts of information in front of each piece. Maybe a paragraph or two specifically about a set of pieces in one place. In my opinion, I think this could of improved the experience.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition. It was fascinating and very informative, despite there lacklustre choice of how to translate that information to the viewer. The pieces on their own more than made up for any issues I had, and I would definitely recommend  it to people.

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