Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Give Me a Museum and I'll Fill It

My thanks to a good friend (you know who you are)who told me I had missed a superb documentary, 'David Hockney: The Art of Seeing – A Culture Show Special,' shown last Monday on BBC2.  Thankfully I caught up with it on iPlayer. The show highlighted Hockney's 'A Bigger Picture' exhibition at the Royal Academy. Tickets are almost gone and the dates that are left are no good to me... drat.
David quoted Picasso 'Give me a museum and I'll fill it,' and went on to say 'Give me the Royal Academy and I'll fill it.'
This put me in mind of a comment I posted on somebody else's blog (you also know who you are) when I said that if an artefact is interesting enough to exhibit at a museum, there must be a story behind it, and if there isn't you  can make one up. This worked for me following a trip to the British Museum specifically to look at their collection of Ushabtis, (ancient Egyptian funerary figurines), which inspired me to write a script of the same name.

Question: Would Google or Wikipedia have saved me the time and trouble of my trip to London?

Answer: Yes. I have no doubt I could have elicited much more information providing it originated from a reliable source and was bona fide.

Question: Would Google or Wikipedia have inspired me to write Ushabti as much my visit to the Museum?

Answer: Noooooo!  Never in a million megabytes! My time with the Ushabtis got my heartbeat racing. I felt a connection that I couldn't stop thinking about and believed I had no option but to write about it. Yes, maybe I filled in some gaps from some books (purchased in Egypt) Wikipedia and I did feel compelled to purchase a translation of the 'Book of the Dead,' but this was from a hunger to know more following my experience and was not essential to the plot.

I think the point I am trying to make is, research is not just a passive exercise. Writers write best based on their own personal experience. A good positive experience will compel a writer to know more because the writer wants to know more. After all that the writing should flow because the passion within the writing is ALIVE.

So Mr Hockney, if by some million to one chance you are reading this please could you sell me a ticket. Maybe I could make up a story about one of your paintings J

Please Share the link below. the producer is a friend who needs to get her work out there.


If it makes you laugh, and can think of someone else you know would too, please SHARE IT on facebook/twitter/pigeon with 10, 5 or even that one person you think will have a giggle - Webisode 4 goes live on Sunday night! :)


  1. I agree John, it is always best to experience something rather than listen to an account of it. Dry facts may be useful but as you say, soaking up the feelings, sights and sounds of the museum are what gives the work life. My late brother did his fair share of visits to places like Somerset House and the places our ancestors lived, to begin our family tree, long before I launched it on Ancestry! Nowadays, here I sit at the computer quite jealous that he did not have such a tool at his fingertips. The one thing I do have, is childhood memories of some of those places so all is not lost :-)

  2. Yes childhood memories Deborah. Don't you wish you could have kept all of those memories alive? I'm going to be 60 this year,and people kindly make out they don't believe me.
    When I think about my age, I think my goodness, my generation is a link back to two world wars, and even as far back as the late Victorian era.
    On the road where I lived as a child we had a real Miss Havisham. A spinster who appeared to be locked in a Victorian age, with her long skirts, the old furnishings in her house and devoid of the mod cons of the 1950's.
    I claimed ownership of her, because I used to visit her most days and run errands for her. She would always make tea and talk to me. But what did we talk about? I don't know. I can't remember, I was too young.
    Your late brother embarked on a journey. Somerset House led him to places where your ancestors lived, and where there are places there are people that your brother must have spoken to. Other people sharing their memories. Priceless.