Mummy mash-up

Another of the participants, Thandi, at our second workshop at the Petrie Museum on 25th April 2016 was inspired by the mummy portraits. Thandi continued to work on her drawing at home and then added in a background of Siwa oasis using a photograph from a family holiday.


If you want to get creative with a mummy portrait, you can come to one of our workshops at the Great North Museum on 9/10 May 2016.



Funerary Oration

This piece was written by one of the participants, Peter, after the second workshop at the Petrie Museum, in response to one of the mummy portraits on display.


Peter - mummy portrait
Peter’s drawing of the mummy portrait.

“Marcus was one of my greatest friends. We played together as children and we had the same Greek tutor. I loved him like a brother and I think he loved me in the same way. When he was eighteen he went to serve in Ptolemy’s army which was engaged with the 2nd Legion Traiana Fortis. We tried to dislodge them from Alexandria but they were too strong for us and they were relieved after a few months by the 3rd Legion Cyrenaica. Marcus served with great courage but he met his match against the 3rd Legion and was killed along with 3000 others. I went out to the battlefield after the fray and eventually found his body, sadly mutilated. He had several deep wounds in his chest and neck but his face was more or less intact. We brought him here and now bury him with full military honours.

What sort of person was Marcus? In his funerary portrait he looks serious, almost menacing. But I can’t remember that. I remember jokes and laughter, endless intrigues with girls and huge celebrations where vast quantities of wine were consumed. Marcus never had any money because he was always enjoying himself too much. I can’t say he was a very brilliant student: he never did his homework, was usually late for school and often absent on some unlikely pretext. But he passed the test for Ptolemy’s army, so he clearly was no slouch. He was an excellent horseman and a formidable swordsman.

I will miss him terribly and I know his family are totally bereft. May the verdict of his judges in the final reckoning be favourable and his journey to the next world be safe and happy.”


What will inspire you to write? Come to one of our free workshops at the Great North Museum on 9th and 10th May to find an object that inspires you. Come along on the day or book a place:

New memories made at the Petrie Museum

Huge thanks to Alice Stevenson and all the staff at the Petrie Museum in London who helped make our first workshop on 18 April such an enjoyable success.

We had the museum to ourselves, and were treated to special access to mummy masks that are not on public display, and a guided introduction to their large and fascinating collection of all sorts of objects from ancient Egypt.

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We were also given special permission to handle some selected objects, all of which date from the Roman period.


Participants at the workshop took turns to consider how best to light and photograph these objects, guided by Rory Carnegie, our professional photographer.

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Meanwhile, the others explored the collection and drew inspiration from particular objects that they discovered. It was particularly exiting to be able then to sit and create new memories surrounded by mummy masks and other precious objects from thousands of years of history.


Everyone had a go at drawing objects that had caught their eye, and with the help of our artist, Miranda Creswell, used silver leaf and other techniques to enhance what they had created. People also produced creative writing, assisted by Sarah Ekdawi. Sometimes this was about memories evoked by seeing certain objects, and sometimes it expressed how they imagined the objects might feel about their new life in the museum.

Everyone could take home with them the drawings, photographs, writings, and memories that they had created during the day. They also kindly gave permission for us to post copies of what they produced on our Gallery page.

If you would like to join us at our other workshop in the Petrie Museum, on 25 April, or at one of the workshops at the Great North Museum in Newcastle on 9 and 10 May, please let us know at: The workshops are free, and we supply all the materials, lunch and refreshments. What new memories will you be inspired to make?

Face to face with Mummy Portraits

Both the Petrie and the Great North Museum have examples of ancient mummy portraits. The woman on the left is from the Petrie collection in London and the man on the right is in the Great North Museum in Newcastle.

Mummy portraits - Copy (500x383)

These portraits are a fascinating example of the blending of ancient cultures in Egypt under the Roman empire. They were made for a community who probably regarded themselves as descendants of Greek settlers. From the 1st to the 3rd centuries AD they buried their dead with highly realistic portraits painted on wood of people wearing Greek or Roman clothing and jewellery, but which were set into mummy bandages or coffins that followed age-old Egyptian burial traditions.

The portraits must have been painted specifically to commemorate individuals who had died. But did they represent them as they really were, or as they wanted to be remembered? The faces appeal to our modern sense of photorealism, but were they originally intended more to evoke memories of class, gender, profession, or cultural background? If you come to our free workshops on 18 or 25 April in London or on 9 or 10 May in Newcastle, you can come face to face with mummy portraits and explore what memories they hold.