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Lesbos and Syria

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To mark the sixth anniversary of the uprising in Syria, poet, classicist and Hellenophile Ruth Padel joins artist Issam Kourbaj to present an intervention that explores the millennia-long relations between the Near East and ancient Greece. In this display (case 14, Gallery 21) you can see Kourbaj's 'Dark Water, Burning World' - a new artwork inspired by fifth-century BCE Syrian vessels from the Museum's collection which are brought together in this display. Fragments from Padel's new poem 'Lesbos 2015', influenced by her meetings on the island of Lesbos, both with the inhabitants and with some of the thousands of Syrians who have fled there, can be seen below and on the display panel alongside the intervention.

…and their stories our stories

steered by the small star-light of cell phones

waves like rings of a tree
rings of the centuries

rocking and spilling on the windy sea

as if water kept its shape after the jug has broken

one shining petrified moment before the shattered pieces fall away

© Ruth Padel 2017

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