July 12, 2008

Marbles Reunited appoints full-time campaign director

Posted at 10:18 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited, New Acropolis Museum

Following on from the news that Marbles Reunited has opened their campaign office, a press release gives more details on Thomas Dowson who has been appointed as Campaign Director.

Newswire Today

9 July 2008
Contact: Thomas Dowson +44 (0)20 7930 1813
Embargo: none

The campaign for the return of the Elgin marbles to Greece has moved up a gear with the appointment by Marbles Reunited of a full-time Campaign Director, Thomas Dowson, who will be based in the organisation’s office in the West End of London. The appointment of Thomas was warmly welcomed by Andrew George MP, Chairman of Marbles Reunited.

Says, Andrew George, “When the New Acropolis Museum opens later this year, the absence of the marbles will be obvious for all the world to see. The British Museum and the British Government could of course continue dragging it out, but that will look excruciatingly embarrassing as it would send out an undesirable impression of Britain’s arrogance. We have appointed a Campaign Director to up our profile, to enable an alternative dialogue between Greece and Britain. Thomas Dowson has a fine pedigree and the energy to see a job through.

Thomas trained as an archaeologist in South Africa at the University of Witwatersrand, where he obtained a first class honours degree in Archaeology. He has curated a number of museum exhibitions and has held several research and teaching posts at universities in England and South Africa. Thomas has contributed to television documentaries in both countries and has a particular interest in the socio-politics of art and archaeology, including the repatriation of art, the exhibition of prehistoric and ancient arts, and heritage management.

His previous campaign experience includes challenging the Eurocentric agendas of art galleries in early 1990s South Africa, daring these institutions to include on their programmes exhibitions of southern African rock arts. As a result, the Johannesburg Art Gallery invited Thomas to curate a major exhibition on San hunter-gatherer art past and present. The exhibition was opened in August 1994 by the first ANC Minister for Culture and Education and representatives of San communities.

Of his new appointment, Thomas said, “I am delighted to be taking up this post at a time when the New Acropolis Museum is on the point of opening, and when public opinion is moving in our favour. I believe that there is no valid legal, political, moral or academic case that can be made against the return of the Parthenon marbles to Athens. I take the view that there is no obstacle to their reunification other than political and personal obstruction, and these are obstacles that can be overcome.

He adds, “My first task is to write the Marbles Reunited’s new website to be launched next month. Our website will counter decisively the common misconceptions employed by those who argue the Elgin marbles should remain in the British Museum.


Notes to Editors follow …

Notes to Editors

Marbles Reunited:

• Marbles Reunited is an unincorporated association governed by a management committee and its officers. Currently the Chairman is Andrew George, a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament representing the St Ives constituency. The other members of the committee have diverse backgrounds in politics, media, arts, academia, law, architecture, museology and information technology.

• The stated aim of the organisation is:
To promote by any lawful means the case for the return of the Parthenon sculptures to Greece.

• Marbles Reunited is funded solely by its members and supporters; the organisation receives no funding from the Greek Government.

• The Marbles Reunited campaign has thus far attracted support from a large number of prominent British citizens, including Neil Kinnock, Daly Thompson, Jayne Torvill, Christopher Dean, Matthew Pinsent, Dame Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Sir Ian McKellan and C.M. Woodhouse.

• Prior to 2005 the Marbles Reunited campaign was known as Parthenon 2004.

• Full details of the organisation’s past activities are available on request.

An abridged biography of Thomas Dowson:
Thomas Dowson was born in Zambia and trained as an archaeologist at the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa), where he obtained a first class honours degree in Archaeology. His principle area of expertise is prehistoric arts, and he has published numerous books and articles on the subject. His interpretations of prehistoric cave art are internationally respected, and have been the topic of a number of television documentaries, including the BBC’s ground-breaking Ape.Man series (2000). Thomas started his career in the Rock Art Research Unit as a Junior Research Officer at the University of the Witwatersrand, where he not only documented and researched southern Africa rock art, but also campaigned to raise the status of this often neglected aspect of South Africa’s cultural heritage. In 1992 he was promoted to the position of Deputy Director of the Rock Art Research Unit. In October 1994 he moved to the University of Southampton, UK, to set up the World’s first postgraduate instructional degree programme on prehistoric arts. In 2001 Thomas moved to the University of Manchester, where he started research on so-called Benin Art, those objects looted by British forces from Benin City in 1897; his research includes exploring the histories of these objects currently housed in the Kelvin Grove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, the ethnography museum in Berlin, the national museum in Dublin and the Manchester Museum.

Further details on request.

Thomas Dowson, Campaign Director
Marbles Reunited
6 Duke of York Street

Tel: +44 (0)20 7930 1813

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