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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Festival of Pots

By Edmund Connolly, on 24 January 2014

by guest blogger: Helen Pike

 The Festival of Pots has kicked off with some Ace pots being made by a year 6 school group from Chris Hatton based in Camden –

These and many other examples of work by a range of community based groups attached to Holborn Community Association have been produced in the last few weeks as part of a 6 month Festival of Pots here at The Petrie.

One of our school-made pots

One of our school-made pots

Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie an English Egyptologist and a pioneer of systematic methodology in archaeology and preservation of artefacts is a character in history who himself needs excavating.

Our recent closure has afforded us an excellent opportunity to plan outreach workshops off site to build new audiences and seize the chance to unpack the man himself and share his major contribution to new audiences right on our doorstep!

 Aiming to broaden the appeal of and significance of his contribution to current practice beyond the realms of the archaeological field the festival format provides opportunities to gain an understanding and appreciate of the importance of his contribution within a wider historical context through making, interaction and conversation.

The key theme of the programme is looking at the pot – an object that has the power to link across both timeframes and cultures -the majority of people will in some way identify with and have a personal interpretation of a pot example from their own collection, this was a key element in Petrie’s contribution and importance – the painstaking noting of the smallest details belied the true nature of research in his view– therefore by adopting this methodology his records of pottery styles revealed definable periods and led to a breakthrough in a new method to establish chronological periods –which was known as seriation in Egyptology.

Translating this idea through the making and hands on activity as part of the Festival we aim to exhibit the work of each of the community groups.  To date the work is demonstrating a series of definable visual typologies from each session producing in effect a contemporary take on Petrie’s classic chart of seriation. Look out for the various activities across campus and Camden over the next 6 months on the http://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/petrie/whats-on


Helen Pike is a Public Programmer at the Petrie Museum

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