The Parthenon sculptures
It is now forty years since Melina Mercouri, the Greek Minister for Culture from 1981 to 1989, famous also as a film star and singer, addressed UNESCO’s World Conference on Cultural Policies to draw international attention to the campaign with which she would be identified until her death in 1994, the repatriation to Athens of the Parthenon sculptures in the British Museum. ‘We are not asking for the return of a painting or a statue’, she said: ‘We are asking for the return of a portion of a unique monument, the privileged symbol of a whole culture’.
The Painters of Pompeii
As images, ancient Roman wall paintings command attention for their bold compositions, vibrant and saturated colours, convincing naturalism and the fantastical mythologies they depict. As objects they also captivate for the dramatic circumstances surrounding their near- destruction, the miracle (or rarity) of their survival and the alchemical nature of lime plaster and pigment.