Shards and Stories – Lessons from Greece (continued)

Taken at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens

Examining shards of pottery in Greece, especially in historical museums, is a fascinating and often deeply meaningful experience. These fragments, bearing partial symbols and images, are remnants of ancient lives and cultures, offering glimpses into the past. Each shard is a piece of a larger narrative, a fragment of a story that once was whole.

Taken at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens

The symbols and images on these shards might depict scenes from daily life, mythological tales, or intricate patterns that were significant to the culture that produced them. Even in their broken state, these fragments can tell us a great deal about the artistic styles, technological advancements, and social practices of ancient Greece.

One of the most compelling aspects of these shards is their ability to be reassembled with other pieces, even those from different pots. This process is akin to piecing together a complex jigsaw puzzle where the final image represents a broader cultural or historical narrative. When these shards are put together, they often reveal a more comprehensive picture, connecting disparate elements to form a richer, more detailed story.

Humans have always told stories with symbols and pictures and objects.Even a small scrap of of pottery gives a rich clue that inspires us to infer more of the story.

My personal artwork has  been strongly influenced by the idea of “shards” as a metaphor for human communication across time. A shard can be a found fragment of clay, a rusty nail, a scrap of handwriting – any little clue that becomes a “secret handshake” between the maker and the discoverer.

Lyn Belisle, Encanto Assemblage, 2011

Have you ever wondered whether fragments of the artwork that you create today might one day be discovered and displayed in a museum, offering clues to the creative expressions of the 21st century? Imagine a future archeologist unearthing remnants of our contemporary art, much like how we now marvel at the fragments of ancient Greek artifacts. Each piece, though incomplete, tells a story of its time, revealing insights into the culture, technology, and aesthetics that defined an era.

In ancient Greece, even the smallest fragment of a vase, statue, or fresco can speak volumes. These pieces provide invaluable glimpses into the past, allowing us to reconstruct the visual and cultural landscape of a civilization long gone. The intricate designs on a pottery shard or the delicate chiseling on a broken statue reflect the artistic prowess and thematic concerns of their creators.

Reconstructed Lion, National Archaeological Museum

Similarly, future generations might uncover fragments of our current artworks—perhaps a piece of a digital print, a shard of a ceramic sculpture, or a remnant of a mixed-media installation. These fragments would serve as tangible connections to our present, helping future historians and art enthusiasts understand the themes, materials, and techniques that shape our creative output.

Lyn Belisle, Shard Components

As artists, the possibility that our work could one day be part of an archeological discovery adds a layer of legacy to our practice. It encourages us to think about the durability and impact of our creations. What messages are we embedding in our work? How do our materials and methods reflect the values and technologies of our time? In contemplating these questions, we become part of a continuum, linking our contemporary expressions to the vast tapestry of human artistic endeavor.

Lyn Belisle, Icon, 2020

So, next time you create, consider the enduring journey your art might undertake. Perhaps, centuries from now, a fragment of your work will be unearthed, sparking curiosity and admiration in a future museum, much like the ancient Greek artifacts do for us today. Through these fragments, our stories will continue to be told, and our creative legacy will persist, connecting us to future generations in a timeless dialogue.

Birds on columns, Heraklion Archaeological Museum

Learning from the past enriches our understanding and inspires us to create meaningful, lasting art for future generations to cherish. Or maybe just to wonder about . . . .

End of lesson from Greece !!





15 thoughts on “Shards and Stories – Lessons from Greece (continued)

  1. I remember visiting that museum in Athens and being in awe of the history before me both in the museum – and the ancient structures outside. What a pleasure it is to look at your own Shards which fit right in with the Greek artifacts.

  2. So beautiful and inspiring! Love how the ancient shards are integrated into your work- even in retrospect =2011! Like you had somehow been there already.

  3. Thank you for sharing these treasures! So beautiful. Once in Tunisia I saw an ancient carved stone piece from a building…sitting in the window of a food shop. I asked could I buy it. 5 dinar for this treasure, now in my home to see every day.

  4. That was a beautiful lesson! We were there last summer but I never once thought of my work or anyone’s work from this era as lasting for centuries. Your work from 2020 fits perfectly into the shards in Greece.

  5. When Andy and I lived in Humble, we had a huge tree in back of our house. When we made something that we didn’t think was very good, e would smash it against that tree. When we moved, there was quite a pile of shards. We often wondered if in 1,000 years someone might dig those pieces up and wonder what kind of civilization made them.

  6. Lyn – Love the “Birds on a Column” from Crete, a piece so different from any piece I’ve encountered in travels. I’m curious about its scale, and, fitting the theme of your post, its meaning. It appears so humbly domestic when compared to the highly decorated reassembled shards above. Is it an intimate terra cotta piece, or something of larger scale? Did you find a symbolic trio of birds perched atop columns repeated amongst the other shards in the museum? I don’t expect you to answer all these questions, but they popped into my head. I can be satisfied with, as you wrote so beautifully, a “little clue that becomes a ‘secret handshake’ between the maker and the discoverer.” Thanks so much.

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