Life amid death

13th February 2004 at 00:00
Art, science and myth intermingle at the Living and Dying exhibition at the new Wellcome Trust Gallery at the British Museum. Despite focusing on the ways in which people cope with death, grief, illness and other human travails, the exhibition displays a wealth of masks, clothing, carvings (above) , sculpture and photographs that provide an exuberant insight into belief systems around the world.

There are plenty of memorable sights including the hentakoi, a wooden figure from the Central Nicobar Islands in India, carved to ward off evil spirits. In Morocco, amulets sewn into everyday clothing, henna tattoos and jewellery are believed to offer protection.

A real discussion point for older children is the Cradle to Grave installation by Pharmacopoeia which provides a visual insight into our reliance on drugs to stay healthy. Two sets of 14,000 drugs have been woven into two pieces of fabric - each representing the number of drugs that a man or woman could take over a lifetime. Tel: 020 7323 8511; www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk.

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