from 1/5/1999 until 1/9/1999

Fresco: A Passport Into the Past

Minoan Crete Through the Eyes of Mark Cameron


The exhibition was dedicated to exploring Minoan culture through the artistic work of the British archaeologist Mark Cameron (1939-1984) and was organised in collaboration with the British School at Athens.

Mark Cameron's academic career was largely devoted to the study of the art of Bronze Age Crete. His main interest centred on Minoan frescoes, which he studied in terms of technique and style. Following a tradition going back to Sir Arthur Evans, the first excavator at Knossos, Cameron wished to show what the paintings were like when more complete, and produced a series of restorations of his own.

The exhibition at the Museum of Cycladic Art presented Cameron's artistic work against the backdrop of Minoan culture. Cameron's coloured drawings were complemented by life-size restorations of some of the frescoes, objects from several sites on Crete as well as a Catalogue.

Massive charging bulls...
...delicate clambering mice
...and Court ladies bedecked in all their finery
All samples of the subjects painted by the Minoans of Crete three or four thousand years ago to enliven the walls of their palaces and homes.
But NOT as wall-paper...
For what purposes then?
And what was portrayed?
Where and how and when?

Such were the questions this exhibition wanted to ask, the very same indeed that caused Mark Cameron to undertake his restorations.

When making a fresco, the Minoans tended to choose their subject matter from the two sources immediately available to them - the society of humans and the natural world.

Humans shown represent, needless to say, the upper classes. They are depicted in sophisticated elegance, often engaged in some ritual activity.

Flora and fauna is ever present in Minoan painting. Images of animals, birds, or plants strike us today as highly decorative, though in antiquity they may have borne symbolic connotations.

A life-size room has been reconstructed for the exhibition, with its entire decorative scheme, allowing us to appreciate in full the impact of colour and form.

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