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By Nature I'm not an activist, I rather take after my mother, who was all for a quiet life. So it is easy for me to sympathise with those artists who do not want to get involved in my lifelong struggle with the art historians. But I am getting old and someone needs to continue the struggle unless you are prepared to live under the present ill-informed dictatorship for ever. Few would insist that art is thriving at present and I am sure that is because our rulers have been deluded for centuries. They have refused to investigate the use of life-casts, they regularly are prepared to believe the most blatant boasts of Bernini in order to bolster their absurd claims for the power of the ancient imagination or visual memory (see also They see art as a consumer object of value, where artists tend to see it as a way to sharpen their perception. They are better at defending their job than at doing it..

It was by chance I have stumbled upon a good number of of really damaging art historical ideas that I have opposed continuously. The most recent instance of the way in which my criticisms have been resisted was at the Ancient Plaster Conference (March 30 & 31 2021).

The videos to watch the event are here: Day One and Day Two.  
The conference programme and pre-watch videos are also available.

The blocking was very blatant and entirely on record, insofar as the conference was on zoom and is now available on You#Tube. The advertisement for the conference mentioned me by name and suggested there might be a revolution in our understanding of Greek and Roman sculpture. To this end I made a video called “A Sculptor’s Perspective” the title was a reuse of a title of an exhibition I gave at Imperial College in 1976 that exhibition besides showing my work as a sculptor showed my discovery of Rembrandt’s use of models and mirrors; using the models I had made to mimic Rembrandt’s live models in front of mirrors. One could say that the exhibition was a huge success. First of all it earned me the assistance of Professor Sir Ernst Gombrich and second, a large number of encouraging letters from wise and well-respected art historians plus a number of of reviews that were clearly on my side - that is in favour of a fundamental revision of Rembrandt scholarship.

That was the high point of my my achievement in art history. Since then although I have continued to make discoveries I have been largely blocked from publications or conferences and when I do manage to get through the censorship my controversial ideas (damaging to the status quo) are ignored. By good fortune I was recently invited to join a conference on the ancient use of plaster and I use that to further two important discoveries that I had made previously. Life casting was used in Greece from about 480 BC onwards and though this had been published in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology in 2004 it had absolutely no influence on the firm taboo that has surrounded this subject since Pliny the elder first mentioned it in the first century AD. To my surprise and delight my view was carried by the conference in a number of contributions.

Alas, the revolution in our understanding of Greek and Roman sculpture got no time to discuss, nor even a mention. My video was to be viewed before the conference. The Roman contribution to our visual culture is generally ignored but is fundamental to the way art is viewed today. The editing out of the main theme of the conference was a sad reiteration of the way in which art historians have treated my views for nearly 50 years. I am now calling on the general public to complain on my behalf and their own. This new light on The Elgin Marbles must surely impact on the Greek demands for their return. In the context of The British Museum we can appreciate the differences and begin to make amends for the time wasted by failure to see that Roman geometry has underpinned the best of European drawing; back in Athens those qualities would fade out of sight.

Few looking at art today can feel particularly happy with our epoch's contribution to human culture and I believe this is the result of at least 300 years of of wish-fulfilment on the the part of artists and art historians. The evidence centres round the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum where I can point to patterns of smoke and weathering on the sculptures quite sufficient to convince non-specialists, as it is to do with experience which everyone can recognise; specialists can also find corroboration in changes of style. The West pediment I maintain is entirely Roman, probably restored by Hadrian 570 years after the originals on the East pediment, completed in 432 BC. To everyone’s horror the Roman work is regularly preferred by the experts to the genuinely Greek! Precisely the opposite to what we are regularly told by art history. This is a serious failure attributing to Phidias what was achieved by a later Roman.

Because I had been doing my own bronze casting for many years I knew that archaeologists had grossly underestimated the difficulty of melting bronze. The alloy of bronze varies enormously at it's lowest end it is brass and melts at about 800 centigrade but the bronze used by the sculptors of the Bronzes of Riace is closer to what is known as gunmetal because it was used for making cannon in the Middle Ages and that has a melting point that requires a temperature of around 1150 centigrade to pour. I knew therefore that “The Foundry Cup” which is taken by archaeologists as the Greeks method of melting bronze was totally inadequate to the task of pouring the Bronzes of Riace, let alone the figure of Athene that stood outside the Parthenon at over 9m high. I therefore went to Athens to search for a chimney and in fact I found two. One in Athens and another in Olympia where Phidias also worked. These chimneys were published in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology in 2002. To my knowledge they have never been cited, taken notice of or investigated by the archaeological establishment in spite of my badgering the British School in Athens. Their Titch Laboratory there is fully equipped to make the necessary tests to prove or disprove that the deposits in the chimney are sufficiently similar to the smoke deposits on the Parthenon to verify my theory or refute it. The Greek authorities have put up a notice that informs the public that there was a chimney where I suggested.

It is of course painful for art historians to admit to a number of major bloomers. Huge swathes of the subject will need to be revised but the level of proof justifies the upheaval and their resistance over the years and up to a few days ago, deserves a good rap over the knuckles. I would recommend that university courses of the study include years of practical experience of the techniques as it was my superior practical knowledge that enabled me to become the world’s best art history detective. Perhaps the second edition of my book should be put back on the syllabus.