Putting our exhibition together (#2, IWM loans)
In this post I will begin to cover my second trip to London in late June 2006 to negotiate loans from the UK, mostly for the Lawrence side of our exhibition. It really was a great priviledge to be able to do this and to return to London so soon after my quick visit over Easter to see the IWM's Lawrence exhibition. Museum's are not made of money and this trip was made possible because my colleagues here in Art and Travelling Exhibitions, Lola Wilkins and Jude Savage, generously allowed for me to travel as their courier, bringing our art works in Shared Experience back from their London show.
Before packing up Shared Experience, I had almost two weeks to race around, negotiating loans from various collections in and around London. So, on to my stories about loan negotiations and at last, some interesting facts about the items we will be bringing out to Australia for the first and maybe the only time.
The Imperial War Museum
The IWM are assisting us in this exhibition and it is appropriate to start with them. My former boss, Mark Whitmore, is now the Director of Collections at the IWM and he was very helpful during my visit. I discussed our art list with Jenny Wood from the IWM Art Department who I was also working with on the demount for Shared Experience. We went out to the art store to look at a few works including the James McBey portrait of Lawrence, done in Damascus soon after it was taken in October 1918. McBey was a British official war artist. Lawrence is depicted in Arab gear and I'd say it probably includes the dagger and agal that we will borrow from All Souls College in Oxford. Nearby on the same rack I noticed another McBey portrait of Lieutenant General Sir Harry Chauvel, of the same size and frame type. He was in a slouch hat and feathers, so I asked for it to be added to our list. That portrait of Chauvel and another McBey of Emir Feisal that we will borrow were also done in Damascus, so they are great additions to our exhibition.
As I've said before, the IWM have been very generous in their support for this exhibition and they have agreed to many loans from their collection. The list includes: a wreath Lawrence removed from Saladin's tomb in Damascus on 1 October 1918, he and Feisal having agreed years earlier that the tomb needed to be "cleansed" when they reached Damascus (IWM EPH 4338); a wide selection of photos, including some excellent photos taken by Lawrence himself (see one above); a Hejaz flag flown by Feisal in Damascus; Lord Allenby's Field Marshal's baton; some Bedouin weapons; a bronze bust of Lawrence by Francis Derwent Wood, RA (IWM ART 4429); and some archival items that we will describe later.
The IWM have also agreed to us borrowing several Lawrence items they have on permanent display that are on loan from Her Majesty The Queen, The Royal Society for Asian Affairs, London and the Fashion Museum, Bath. More on those loans in later posts.