Skip to main content

No results found

Subrooms Leaderboard1110x120px nz9jo5
What's On, Culture, Art, Eat, Sleep, Drink, Eat

Review: Last Supper in Pompeii

at the Ashmolean Museum

divider
Helen McCombie

The Ashmolean has done it again, with another breathtaking exhibition to add it to its long list of successes. Since the arrival of current director Xa Sturgis in 2014, the museum has gone from strength to strength. The latest exhibition takes an archaeological turn, examining the richness of the Roman life which was wiped out on that fateful night in AD79. By exploring the Roman love of food, wine and generally having a good time, the exhibition succeeds in bringing a touching immediacy to those long-lost lives.

The story of Pompeii can’t fail to catch the attention; the high and mighty of the Roman world living hedonistic and hearty lives in a gorgeously decorated city, brought down in a single tragic event, but preserved to tell their tale hundreds of years later. But it is one with which we have all become rather familiar. We learn about it in school, there are dozens of documentaries available, and even Hollywood has taken a stab at dramatising the story. The Ashmolean exhibition cuts through all this by speaking to a wholly different type of familiarity: our shared love of good food, close friends, and a swinging party. It expertly brings to life the world of Pompeii. Nothing makes you feel quite so close to these ancient people as a loaf of bread, carbonised in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, as it sat waiting to be bought on a shop shelf. The exhibition makes fantastic use of items such as this, many of which have never been allowed out of Italy before. They sit alongside fascinating displays which tell of the culture these objects were a part of. The breadth of the exhibition is astonishing; from wine glasses and mosaics, to wall-paintings, shop signs and cooking pots, there is a real sense that these objects have only just been left, as if their owner might simply have gone into the other room.

Last Supper in Pompeii is a masterpiece, making the past tangible, and inviting empathy for people it is all too easy to think of in caricatures. We are very lucky that, if only briefly, we need not travel to Italy to have a chance to step back into the Roman world, and come face to face with a people closer to ourselves than we might realise.
Last Supper in Pompeii runs until 12 January

Read more of Helen’s work at thefeministgadabout.com

RECOMMENDED

DSC 5262
Thu 8 Jul 2021

The Ice Women Community

Laura and Isabelle Hof talk with Rach Cox about a more female-centred approach to the Wim Hof Method

Unless you have been living under a stone, we’re willing to bet you’ve heard of Wim Hof, the Dutch extreme sportsman whose Wim Hof Method (WHM), combines cold water immersion, breath technique and mindset work. Om & Bass founder, Rach Cox spent time with Laura and Isabelle Hof, Wim’s fierce daughters, who are on a mission to make their father’s learning more appealing to women

IMG 20210524 074826 961 xfvtji
Thu 27 May 2021

The restaurant at The Waggon & Horses serves seasonal modern British food in relaxed & elegant surroundings, with a focus on our grilled offering.

Etype Evolution Exhibition 20210312 9 copyright 77 RW PopBangColour nm4bbf
Thu 20 May 2021

Explore the world’s largest collection of historic British cars at the British Motor Museum. From the very first Land Rover to Lady Penelope’s FAB1. 

uROo78gA
Wed 19 May 2021

Oxfordshire Artweeks 2021

Portraiture, Pets and People

On day nineteen of the Oxfordshire Artweeks May festival see portraits, pets and people in art, craft and design.