British Museum Stolen Goods Tour
British Museum, London. Sat 8th December 2018
Rodney Kelly, an Indigenous Australiam. Six generations earlier on
of his ancestors went out to see a strange
boat that had brought Captain Cook to Botany Bay where they lived.
Cook had arrived without warning and
an unannounced arrival like his went against the normal expectations
of the people, so he was not welcome
The small group of warriors looked hostile to Cook, and he ordered
musket shots to be fired in the air as a
warning. But the warriors had no understanding of what that meant
and stood their ground. They came with
spears and wooden shields they thought would protect them. Captain
Cook ordered his men to fire at them, and
a musket ball went through the shiled and hit one of the warriors
in the leg. They ran back to their camp with
the wounded man, then fled with their families into the bush. Cook
and his men landed and stole the shield
with the hole that can still be seen, along with other things left
in the camp, including many spears, and brought
them back to England. Some went to the British Museum and other collections..
BP or Not BP? activists introduce the event
and some 'burglars' have arrived too, in their striped jumpers and
masks - and a bag for swag
as well as a 'BP Executive' who explains how thier sponsorship of
art including exhibitions at the British Museum
helps to clean up their reputation, tarnished by oil spills, the exploitation
of oil fields around the globe with its
associated environmental damage, the sale of climate change produceing
fossil fuels and more all looks much
better with the nice glossy image of exhibitions such as those at
Rodney Kelly is then introduced, and begins telling his story again
by a lengthy blowing of his didgeridoo
The crowd has grown - with more behind me as well as those in the
Kelly tells the crowd how the shield - which few people stop to look
at in the museum - would reinvigorate the
traditions of his people back in Australia and would be both the centrepeice
of a museum of indigenous
Australi and revive a great interest in traditional crafts - after
retelling the story of how it was stolen and how the
the museum came to acquire it.
He talked about his visit here in October
2016, to ask the British Museum to return the shiled, and how the
museum had refused to enter into a serious discussion about it. Instead
they have consulted their own experts
who have cast doubt on the story behind the shield and refused to
credit Rodney Kelly's story about it because
there is no written proof, just the story passed down from generation
to generation in a wholly oral culture.
Kelly points at his ancestor's shield...
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londons industrial history
lea valley / river lea
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