Reflections on Celts

Reflections on Celts, a touring exhibition organised to complement the major Celts exhibition, has given audiences across the UK the opportunity to see and learn about two Iron Age mirrors: the British Museum’s Holcombe mirror and the Balmaclellan mirror from National Museums Scotland’s collection.

Above: School party visiting Reflections on Celts at Old Gala House © Brian Cassidy Photography.
Above: School party visiting Reflections on Celts at Old Gala House © Brian Cassidy Photography.

Celtsa major exhibition organised in partnership with the British Museum, was on display from 10 March to 25 September 2016 at the National Museum of Scotland. It told the complex story of the different groups who have used or been given the name ‘Celts’ over a period of more than 2,500 years.

Several venues took the opportunity to extend the theme of the Reflections on Celts touring exhibition by displaying their own collections and developing school or community programmes.

Above: The Holcombe mirror. © Trustees of the British Museum.
Above: The Holcombe mirror. © Trustees of the British Museum.
Above: The Balmaclellan mirror.
Above: The Balmaclellan mirror.

Reflections on Celts is currently on display at the McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum, where it has been extended until 26 March 2017. The staff at Leisure & Culture Dundee have created an exhibition of their own local archaeological material around the mirrors, exploring the history of Celts in Dundee. Highlights include John Duncan’s The Riders of the Sidhe, a replica of the Hunterston Brooch and a fantastic 3D-visualisation of the Dundee Law created by the University of Dundee’s 3DVisLab.

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3D Visualisation of the Dundee Law © Dr Alice Watterson and Kieran Baxter

Prior to Dundee the tour visited Inverness Museum & Art Gallery, where an extensive community engagement programme was organised in partnership with Birchwood Highland Recovery Centre. Twelve community curators had the opportunity to research the collections and produce creative responses to the themes they discovered such as power, transformation, conflict and community.

Above: Community curator researching the collections of Inverness Museum & Art Gallery © Inverness Museum & Art Gallery.
Above: Community curator researching the collections of Inverness Museum & Art Gallery © Inverness Museum & Art Gallery.

Working with local poet John Glenday and artist Eleanor White, the community curators produced original writing and artworks that were displayed in the museum along with Reflections on Celts. The opening night of the exhibition saw Drama and Performance students from the University of the Highlands and Islands perform their own responses to the theme of the mirrors, devised in workshops with one of the museum’s curators.

Above: University of the Highlands and Islands performance © Ewen Weatherspoon.
Above: University of the Highlands and Islands performance © Ewen Weatherspoon.

Old Gala House was the first Scottish venue to host the tour. Live Borders took the opportunity to display their own archaeological collections alongside the mirrors and tell a local story. At Old Gala House an extensive schools programme attracted over 400 school children who took part in workshops on Celtic art and archaeology.

Above: Community curator researching the collections of Inverness Museum & Art Gallery © Inverness Museum & Art Gallery.
Above: Community curator researching the collections of Inverness Museum & Art Gallery © Inverness Museum & Art Gallery.

National Museums Scotland’s Dr Fraser Hunter gave talks about the mirrors and the Celts exhibition. These included two evening talks at Old Gala House and the McManus, and the keynote speech at a conference in Inverness.

Above: Creative response to the mirrors © Inverness Museum & Art Gallery
Above: Creative response to the mirrors © Inverness Museum & Art Gallery

I think everyone will agree that these small mirrors and the programmes devised by the host museums have made a really big impact. If you haven’t yet had a chance to see the mirrors they will be at the McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum until 26 March 2017.

Reflections on Celts at the McManus: Dunde's Art Gallery & Museum
Reflections on Celts at the McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum.

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