Although the Ice Age Art Gallery is centered upon sculpture created during prehistory, we must be careful to avoid the trap of compartmentalizing a skill and a practice that runs seamlessly through the story of humankind. For this reason, Dr Jill Cook refers to it as 'Ice Age Art: Exploring the deeper history of Art'.
In reality, although prehistoric, there should be no separation, because whilst there are clear temporal and spatial variations, the theme remains the same. We are dealing with the same minds - our minds.
At the same time, this section is an attempt to redress the balance concerning the 'portable' works of Ice Age art which occur throughout Europe during the Upper Palaeolithic era. The art of this time was not restricted to the paintings and engravings found on the walls of caves. Indeed, 'portable' art, though often under-represented, was prevalent during this period. Moreover, the fact that these predominantly naked figures were created during a very cold time is highly significant, and it perhaps sheds light on the sculptures' purpose.
Damon de Laszlo
Chairman of the Bradshaw Foundation
'Ice Age Art - Exploring the Deeper History of Art', presented here by the Bradshaw Foundation in collaboration with Dr Jill Cook of the British Museum in London, delves into the varied and numerous sculptures created during prehistory. Dr Jill Cook, Curator of European Prehistory at the British Museum, is a leading authority on the 'portable' art of prehistory. The 'portable' sculptures include female figurines, animals, composite figures (combining both human and animal forms), tools (decorated with figures, animals and patterns), plaques and pendants. The materials used were stone, clay, bone and antler.
In this section Dr Cook examines the sculptures, excavated by archaeologists around the world, in detail, arguing that these works of art 'of the light' were produced by artists no different to those of today. The distinction between 'prehistory' and 'history' becomes blurred when considering the themes and carvings of the Ice Age Sculptures. This is also illustrated by the section in the 'Ice Age Art - Exploring the Deeper History of Art' about the Cycladic Figures.