This Sunday, our artist Soham De will begin painting the first of several artefact trail murals to appear across the Cheney School campus, where the East Oxford Community Classics Centre is based. The artefact trail is being painted in the Design & Technology department. Each trail consists of three murals, showing a different stage in the imagined life of an artefact in our collection. In this case, the artefact is a fragment of Roman glass, and the first mural shows a Roman worker blowing glass near a furnace. The second image shows a wealthy Roman man pouring wine out of a bottle into a cup during a symposium. The final mural shows a cat knocking the bottle of a table!
At our launch event, we did a survey to collect feedback on the initial sketches - one thing that came back very strongly is that people really enjoyed having the cat, and thought this would make a fun feature to be woven throughout all the trails (especially for younger children!). This is one way that the sketches have been updated by Soham.
Our consultant archaeologist Dr Aaron Alzola also made a number of other suggestions, including putting the furnace outside, adjusting the clothing of the characters to make them look more authentic, and changing the shapes of the glass vessels. Aaron observed: "bottles would have been fairly stocky and, more often than not, with handles and spouts -- similar in many ways to the pottery version of the oenochoai. Their bottles would have been quite different from our modern wine bottles. The modern style of wine glass (with a long stem) was not used in Ancient Rome either. They did have a form of footed glass bowl, but these were basically short, stocky bowls with a small stem (and were relatively rare). Wine was most commonly drunk out of small pottery cups (e.g. Samian ware)."
The walls of the patrician man's home would have probably been decorated with frescoes or friezes (probably not plain white) - so this was another adaptation Soham made to the final sketches. You can see the final images below and we will be posting photos of the work in progress in the next few days and weeks on our facebook and twitter accounts!
We hope that you will come and visit to see the finished trails!