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    Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

    The trade in fake antiquities is reported on today in the British Museum blog. St John Simpson, Assistant Keeper of the Middle East Department at the museum, recounts a story of trunks consigned from Bahrain to an address in the UK being opened at Heathrow last year. Filled with objects that seemed to have originated in ancient Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) and dating to 2000BC to 500 BC the cuneiform tablets represented a virtually complete range of basic types known. These range from school texts for trainee scribes, administrative texts, royal inscriptions, mathematical texts and others resembling official documents from temples and public buildings. There was also an inscribed amulet resembling a unique example excavated at the Late Assyrian capital of Nimrud.

    Not one of them was ancient. The clay was all of a similar type, a clue to the fakery, and had been fired in a kiln, proving they came from a modern workshop. Not all the writing made sense and it was the wrong kind of clay for tablets that would have been simply sun dried. Not long after this two more trunks arrived at Heathrow with figurines and animal pottery vessels. “It immediately confirmed our suspicions and made us realise that there are surely more trunks of fakes somewhere out there…” Simpson writes.

    Chillingly he cites this as evidence for a side of the trade in antiquities which is rarely discussed – there are more fakes in circulation than genuine articles. “Faking tablets has been known for over 200 years and they began to appear even before cuneiform had been deciphered. However, this is the first time that we have seen fakes of this particular type – this is a new production line aimed at private individuals with little or no knowledge of the originals”. Caveat emptor.

    A selection of fake figurines. ©Trustees of the British Museum 2020.


    Saturday, March 21st, 2020

    The Cork artist and printmaker Edward Twohig has scored the singular honour of being collected by the British Museum.  And now the Victoria and Albert Museum is planning to take a look at his studio.  The British Museum, whose collection charts the development of graphic art in Europe from the 1400’s and includes work by Durer,  Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Hogarth, Goya and Picasso, has just acquired 12 prints by Edward Twohig. “This is unheard of and most gratifying, a validation of over 30 years commitment to printmaking” he said. Among the works are Quietness drawn from Mount Desert Woods in Cork and Meteor Shower, Knockmealdown Mountains. Both date to 2015.  The artist, who is now Head of Art at Marlborough College in Wiltshire where the Duchess of Cambridge went to school, graduated from the Crawford in 1990 and holds an MA from Chelsea College of Art.  He works directly from nature in places that resonate for him. His work is in museums and galleries including the Crawford in Cork, the Ashmolean in Oxford, the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge, the collection of Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, the Museo des Bellas Artes in Caracas and the Azerbaijan National Museum. A trustee of Bankside Gallery in London he has been a member of the Royal Society of Printmakers since 2016.

    Edward Twohig – Quietness – Mount Desert Woods