British Museum blog

Stunt double trouble


Janet Larkin, Curator of the Enlightenment Gallery

I’ve had an exciting time these last few months managing the installation of the objects for Grayson Perry’s exhibition. As part of this, I have also been tasked with changing the stunt double teddy bears on the back of Grayson motorbike, which you can see on display just outside the exhibition entrance. I usually work in the Department of Coins and Medals and look after the Enlightenment Gallery, and so getting up close to this fantastic motorbike is a real change for me!

Hundreds of bears entered their CVs and photos for Grayson Perry’s competition to find a stunt double for Alan Measles, who is of course Grayson’s teddy bear and ‘god of his imaginary world’. Grayson shortlisted the candidates to find his top 12 and then the public voted for their three favourites. The final three reminded us of The Story of the Three Bears, there was “a Little, Small, Wee Bear” called Dr Schmoo, “a Middle-sized Bear” called Pinny, and “a Great, Huge Bear” called John Duggan.

Last week, early one morning before the Museum opened to the public, we tried John Duggan out for size by placing him in the shrine on the back of Grayson’s motorbike. Dressed up in his leathers and wearing a fantastically ornate eye patch, he really looked the part. However, John was slightly too tall for the shrine and so, very sadly, he won’t be able to take up his place as the stand-in for Alan Measles after all.

This is incredibly disappointing for John Duggan of course. He had so wanted to sit in the shrine and for all to come and see him. However, we know that he will take comfort in knowing that he has been an internet star with thousands of votes. He now even has his own Facebook page, so do go and make friends with him! He will certainly go on to have many more adventures I’m sure. Whilst he was here, and in true stunt teddy bear spirit, he did try out a few poses on the motorbike which we caught on camera and which he wanted you to see…

John Duggan prepares for a ride on Grayson Perry's motorbike

Displaying his fine balancing skills on the handlebars

Enjoying the scenery

Posing like a true stunt double

And so, we now need a stand-in for the stand-in! The next bear on the shortlist from the final stages of the competition will be contacted and asked to take John Duggan’s place. Keep an eye out (not literally, like John Duggan) on Twitter for the announcement of who that lucky bear will be.

You may have seen Pinny and Alan Measles on Harry Hill’s TV Burp. Pinny is thrilled to have been on television. Have you seen Pinny or Dr Schmoo on display yet? Dr Schmoo is proudly wearing his Grayson Perry badge, and I’ve even found him a cushion so that he can sit on that big throne much more comfortably.

Find out more about the Grayson Perry Late event.

Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman
is supported by AlixPartners, with Louis Vuitton.
Book tickets now

Filed under: Exhibitions, Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman

One Response - Comments are closed.

  1. Archie says:

    Just returned from the British Museum today. I specifically went to see Grayson’s exhibition. Both my wife and I were bowled over by his huge talent. The exhibition was really well put together, showing how he was influenced by the other pieces of work on display. It was a treat and a perfect day.

    The museum hold such a vast array of pieces that I’ll never be able to have enough time in m y life to see everything. Well done.

    Like

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Our next #MuseumOfTheFuture gallery space is Room 55, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery of Mesopotamia 1500–539 BC. The civilisations of Babylonia and Assyria flourished during the first millennium BC. Political developments resulted in the incorporation of the entire Near East into a single empire, while increased international contact and trade influenced the material culture of the region.
Room 55 traces the history of Babylonia under the Kassites and the growth of the Babylonian state and empire until it was taken over by the Persian King Cyrus in 539 BC.
'Boundary Stones' carved with images of kings and symbols of the gods record royal land grants. The development of the Assyrian state and empire, until its fall in 612 BC, is illustrated by objects excavated in its palaces. Mesopotamia’s highly developed literature and learning are demonstrated by clay tablets from the library of King Ashurbanipal (r. 668–631 BC) at Nineveh, written in cuneiform script. It's time for Room 54 in our #MuseumOfTheFuture gallery series – the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery of Anatolia and Urartu 7000–300 BC. Ancient Anatolia and Urartu form an important land link between Europe and Asia and lie where the modern Republic of Turkey, Armenia, Georgia and north-west Iran are located today. Objects in Room 54 show different cultures from prehistoric to Hellenistic times.
Examples of Early Bronze Age craftsmanship on display include a silver bull and cup, and business archives of Middle Bronze Age merchants illustrate trading between central Anatolia and Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). Delicate gold jewellery and figurines date from the Hittite period, and Iron Age objects from Urartu include winged bulls and griffins that were used to decorate furniture. Next in our #MuseumOfTheFuture series of gallery spaces it's Room 53, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery of Ancient South Arabia. Ancient South Arabia was centred on what is now modern Yemen but included parts of Saudi Arabia and southern Oman. It was famous in the ancient world as an important source of valuable incense and perfume, and was described by Classical writers as Arabia Felix ('Fortunate Arabia') because of its fertility.
Several important kingdoms flourished there at different times between 1000 BC and the rise of Islam in the 6th century AD. The oldest and most important of these was Saba, which is referred to as Sheba in the Bible.
Room 53 features highlights from the Museum’s collection, which is one of the most important outside Yemen. The display includes examples of beautiful carved alabaster sculptures originally placed inside tombs, incense-burners and a massive bronze altar. You can see the East stairs in the background of this picture. We've reached Room 52 on our #MuseumOfTheFuture series of gallery spaces – the Rahim Irvani Gallery of Ancient Iran. Iran was a major centre of ancient culture. It was rich in valuable natural resources, especially metals, and played an important role in the development of ancient Middle Eastern civilisation and trade. Room 52 highlights these ancient interconnections and the rise of distinctive local cultures, such as in Luristan, during the age of migrations after about 1400 BC.
During the 6th century BC, Cyrus the Great founded a mighty Persian empire which eventually stretched from Egypt to Pakistan. Objects on display from this period include the Cyrus Cylinder (in the centre of the picture) and the Oxus Treasure (in the case to the left of the picture). Monumental plaster casts of sculptures from Persepolis are also displayed in Room 52 and on the East stairs.
The later periods of the Parthian and Sasanian empires mark a revival in Iranian culture and are represented through displays including silver plates and cut glass. The next gallery space in our #MuseumOfTheFuture series is Room 51, Europe and Middle East 10,000–800 BC. Farming began in the Middle East around 12,000 years ago, making possible the social, cultural and economic changes which shaped the modern world. It arrived in Britain around 6,000 years ago bringing a new way of life. This change in lifestyle meant people competed for wealth, power and status, displaying these through jewellery, weapons and feasting.
The objects on display in Room 51 show how the people of prehistoric Europe celebrated life and death and expressed their relationship with the natural world, the spirit world and each other. The object in the centre of this picture is the Mold gold cape, found in Flintshire in 1833 and dating to around 1900–1600 BC. This is Room 50, Britain and Europe 800 BC–AD 43, the next gallery space in our ongoing #MuseumOfTheFuture series. The Iron Age was a time of dramatic change for the people of Britain and Europe. Iron replaced bronze as the material used to make tools and weapons, while religion, art, daily life, economics and politics changed dramatically. The story of these civilisations (known to the Greeks and Romans as Britons, Celts, Germans and Iberians) and their distinct material cultures, is told through decorated Iron Age artefacts known as 'Celtic art' and more everyday objects. In the foreground of this picture you can see a selection of torcs and to the right is the Battersea shield, found in the River Thames in the 1850s.
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