Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Ancient Greek vase paintings that move?

Attic pelike, ca 440 BC. Lecce Museum
As part of my research lately I've been looking at lots of ancient Greek vase paintings. For instance, in October, I spent a wonderful rainy afternoon at the Museo Provinciale Sigismondo Castromediano in Lecce in Southern Italy. They have a wide variety of painted and sculpted vases from about 550 BC onwards. 

Attic skyphos, ca 500 BC. Lecce Museum
I was entranced by the detail and beautiful compositions of these two. But there are many, many more wonderful things to see ...
Lecce Museum. Picture from Trip advisor.

In The Boy with Two Heads, my hero, Themis, painted on pots and terra cotta tiles. He may not have been able to remember much of his childhood, but he didn't lose his ability to draw when he suffered his accident. 

"He remembered painting a pot ... and then smashing it because it was not good enough. Ariphron had mended it because he liked the picture on it of goats reaching up to eat olive leaves."

I spent a long time the other day looking for a picture of a pot with olive trees and a goat to illustrate something I was writing about Themis. I was sure I had seen one at some point, but in the end I gave up.

However, I did come across this site: http://www.panoply.org.uk, which pleased me immensely. It has ancient Greek vase paintings that have been animated! They are done by experts but with input from local school children near Reading in Berkshire, west of London. They chose vase paintings from the Ure Museum at Reading University and made very short, but often amusing, little movies.

Also, there is a YouTube clip made by Oxford University for Christmas which includes brief moments of animated vase paintings among other wonders of the Ashmolean Museum that come alive here

These charming ideas reminded me that, when I was at university studying drama (more than 40 years ago), I wrote a storyboard for a short movie of a myth. It was to be animated drawings in the style of red figure vases (like those in the first picture above). In those days there was no chance of making such a film without a huge movie-making process and thousands of pounds, so it just stayed as an idea. My story was to be that of Hermes stealing Apollo's cattle. 

When, out of curiosity, I checked out that particular myth on-line, look what I found ...

from a hydra in the Louvre, Paris. ca 520 BC.

Can you see the goat in the olive tree? 

The mind works in mysterious ways. 

Happy New Year!

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