Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Guardian letter on Parthenon marbles

The British museum`s attempts to improve the "frosty relations between Russia and the West in the wake of the invasion of eastern Ukraine" would have had more impact if the works of art loaned to the Hermitage museum actually belonged to Britain.(Part of Elgin marbles leave UK for first time,05/12/14) Lending the Parthenon marbles, instead of, for example, some Turner landscapes or samples from the royal family`s vast collection, is simply provocative, and will do nothing but cause resentment in Greece, and display our hypocrisy to the world. How quick we are to offer judgements when Jewish owned artwork is discovered in ex-Nazis` homes! (Modernist art haul,"looted by Nazis", recovered by German police,04/11/13)
Jonathan Jones has rightly argued that British museums must "face up to reality" and that "cultural imperialism" belongs in history`s dustbin, but clearly his passionate plea fell on deaf ears.(The art world`s shame: why Britain must give its colonial booty back,04/11/14) How can anyone justify, in the 21st century, the looting of Greek treasure by a greedy, profiteering British aristocrat, two hundred and ten years ago? The return of the marbles is long overdue, would provide a welcome boost to an impoverished Greek economy, and would display some British acceptance of guilt for its imperial past. Lending some of the pieces to Russia is simply shameful,and questions must be asked about the role played in this by the Secretary of State for Culture.

Any political party with a  sense of decency would include a promise to return the marbles to their rightful home in its election manifesto!

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