The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum has been chosen to host a spotlight tour, ‘Reflections on Celts’ in partnership with National Museums Scotland and the British Museum from the beginning of September. The exhibition will display two Iron Age mirrors alongside pieces from the City’s own collection.
Metal mirrors with a polished reflective surface on one side and swirling Celtic art designs on the reverse were first made around 100 BC. Celtic art marked out powerful objects in the Iron Age, and versions of this abstract style have been reused and re-invented to reflect people’s identities right up to the present.
The two mirrors in this tour tell very different stories. The British Museum’s Holcombe mirror, from Devon in south-west England, was uncovered during the excavation of a Late Iron Age settlement which lay beneath a Roman villa. The back of the mirror is engraved with a stunning looped design which perfectly balances engraved motifs with empty space. This was a new style of Celtic art which developed in southern Britain as communities here were coming into closer contact with the Roman world.
National Museums Scotland’s mirror was discovered at Balmaclellan in Kirkcudbrightshire, south-west Scotland. It was part of a hoard of metalwork wrapped in cloth parcels which was placed in a bog, perhaps as an offering to the gods. Unlike the English mirror, both faces were smooth for reflecting. Decoration is confined to the handle, the shape of which is modelled on Roman vessel handles.
Chair of Leisure & Culture Dundee, Bob Duncan said
“Following on from the success of the Romans exhibition last year, we are again excited again to be partnering with National Museums Scotland and the British Museum on this touring exhibition. We are delighted that The McManus has been chosen as a venue and it’s a great chance for the public to see these very special objects close to home.”
Dr Fraser Hunter, Principal Curator of Archaeology at National Museums Scotland said
“The Celts exhibition has generated huge national and international interest in this fascinating topic. We’ve been delighted to be able to support and develop that interest by bringing these spectacular artefacts to museums across the country and we hope that they prove as popular and stimulating in Dundee.”
Georgia Mallin, Dorset Foundation Head of National Programmes at the British Museum, said
“The British Museum is delighted to be working in partnership with The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum and National Museums Scotland for this exciting Spotlight tour. The two Iron Age mirrors on loan in Reflections on Celts allow stories from the British Museum and National Museums Scotland to be shared with as many people as possible across the UK. This exhibition also showcases the collections at The McManus and brings all these objects together to tell a unique and fascinating story.”
‘Reflections on Celts’ is being run in conjunction with the exhibition ‘Celts’ which was staged first at the British Museum and is currently on at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh until 25 September. The spotlight exhibition is the last leg of the national tour and will run until December 5, 2016.
The Reflections on Celts tour is generously supported by the Dorset Foundation.