City Museum Takes Centre Stage in BBC’s Landmark Civilisations Series

  • Closing in on the Silkstead Head
  • Filming at Winchester City Museum
  • Hampshire Cultural Trust Collections Manager Robin Isles and Tomasz Schafernaker
  • Presenter Tomasz Schafernaker and Hampshire Cultural Trust Collections Manager Robin Isles with the Silkstead
  • Silkstead head

Winchester’s City Museum will take centre stage in Civilisations Stories: Art, Us and the Truth, a BBC South art history documentary accompanying the highly-acclaimed BBC Arts series

Filming for the series took place at the museum in March and the programme will be broadcast on BBC One South and BBC One HD at 7:30pm on Monday 30 April.

Civilisations Stories: Art, Us and the Truth takes a chronological tour of some of the south’s museums and galleries and is presented by weatherman, Tomasz Schafernaker, a keen portrait artist who grew up in Portsmouth. The programme reveals his passion and talent for the art of portraiture, and through the examination of significant art works and artefacts that portray people from the age of the Romans onwards, Schafernaker discovers that our modern obsession with image is, in fact, nothing new. He uncovers how artists down the ages have subtly shaped and manipulated our opinions of people and the times in which they lived by enhancing some features in their work and erasing others.

City Museum opens Civilisations Stories: Art, Us and the Truth with a focus on the portrayal of people in Roman times, in particular looking at one of the museum’s most important artefacts, the Silkstead Head. Originating from the 1st or 2nd century AD and found in a sandpit in Otterbourne near Winchester, the head is a bronze likeness of a Romano British girl. Some of her features were made to look deliberately more Roman so that she conformed to the look of the Roman ruling class. However, the artist still retained a number of Celtic traits in the sculpture, including her hair style and using pebbles for her eyes, a characteristic trait of Celtic art.

A small selection of the museum’s fine collection of coins, which date back to the Iron Age, are also featured. The programme considers how Celtic Britons would have looked at the silhouettes of Roman emperors and empresses on coins to pick up tips on how to appear as Roman as possible.

‘We are absolutely thrilled to have been able to take part in this groundbreaking series,’ commented Janet Owen, Chief Executive Officer at Hampshire Cultural Trust. ‘City Museum is home to some extraordinary artefacts that are of great importance to Winchester and the surrounding area. It is very exciting to see the story of one of these pieces, the Silkstead Head, being told to such a wide audience and showing the incredible depth of history that is available right here on our doorstep.’