Another new year’s resolution of mine and Fröken Karlsson’s was to get up earlier on Saturdays and do more exhibitions. So, with this in mind, we eschewed an afternoon of utter horror in the January Sales and went to to the Wellcome Collection’s current exhibit. And with all the talk of dry months and gym memberships, what better than an exhibition centred around death?
The exhibition is curated from a huge private collection, hoarded over the years by former art dealer, Richard Harris. The eclectic miscellany brings together paintings, trinkets, historical artefacts, sculptures and modern art, each one either ruminating on the nature of death, or serving as a memento mori.
The tau tau sat at the centre of all this. A carved timber figure, dressed in simple garments, with a toupee covering it’s woody baldness, sat on a tiny oaken armchair, with eyes white as paper.
According to the blurb, each tau tau represented a deceased person and would sit guarding the burial site of their dead counterpart — protecting them from the living. Wikipedia has a great article.
For all the vicious deaths on display, this was the one thing that really stuck in my mind. Macabre and sinister, I could feel the calm gaze of the tau tau reaching into my soul.
Death — A Self Portrait runs at the Wellcome Collection until February 24th.