Showing results 1 - 12 of 16 for the tag: Stephen Fry.

November 7, 2012

Reflecting on the reasons for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 9:04 am in Elgin Marbles

The Thirsty Gargoyle has an interesting blog post about why the Parthenon Sculptures should be returned. Their post is inspired by Stephen Fry’s views on the subject, but looks in more detail about how many in Britain take views on subjects, despite knowing too little about it to be in a position to form a real opinion.

Read it here.

August 3, 2012

Reshowing of Parthenon Marbles debate in Australia

Posted at 1:01 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

ABC’s Big Ideas has re-broadcast June’s debate on the Parthenon Marbles organised by Intelligence Squared.

From:
ABC (Australia)

Published 23 July 2012
IQ2 Debate: ‘Send Them Back’ The Parthenon Marbles Should Be Returned to Athens

The proposition for this IQ2 debate from the UK is ‘Send Them Back: The Parthenon Marbles Should Be Returned to Athens’. These marbles, also known as the Elgin marbles, were removed by Lord Elgin (British Ambassador to Constantinople 1799-1803, Greece was under Turkish rule until the 1830’s War of Independence) and shipped back to London in the early part of the 19th century.

The Parthenon sculpture included a large amount of 5th century BC sculptured freize (about 75 metres) that once ran around the Parthenon and life size sculpted figures.
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June 16, 2012

Change of times for Intelligence Squared Parthenon Marbles debate TV broadcast

Posted at 3:22 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

The times for the broadcast on TV of Monday’s Intelligence Squared debate over the return of the Parthenon Marbles have changed from what was originally indicated.

The new times (from BBC website) are:

Recordings of the debate will be broadcast on BBC World News at 09:10 and 21:10 on 23 June, and 02:10 and 15:10 on 24 June. All times GMT.

For those of you in the UK, note that this is GMT, not BST. Furthermore, note that BBC World News is not available to watch online in USA, UK or Japan.

So – you can’t watch it on TV in the UK, unless you have foreign satellite TV already (not Sky, as they don’t carry it). A lot of countries in Europe broadcast BBC World News however – for more details see the BBC website page for the channel. As far as I know, it will also be available on the Intelligence Squared Youtube channel after the TV broadcast date.

June 15, 2012

The campaign to return the Parthenon Marbles is an appeal to Britain’s “better instincts”

Posted at 12:32 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

More coverage of the debate earlier this week about he reunification of the Parthenon Marbles. As well as the vote taken after the UK debate, one was also made at the end of the live broadcast of it at the Acropolis Museum – which predictably found an either higher level of support than in Britain.

This story has also had a lot of additional coverage, as a paragraph at the end of an AP article, that has been syndicated by many newspapers internationally.

From:
Artinfo

“We Will Never Repay the Debt that We Owe Greece”: Actor Stephen Fry Calls for Parthenon Marbles to Be Sent Back
by ARTINFO UK
Published: June 13, 2012

The Eurozone may be in tatters, and Greece about to return to the drachma, but on Monday very different matters were at hand. A debate organized by Intelligence Squared held at London’s Cadogan Hall and screened live at the Acropolis Museum in Athens reignited the passions around the Elgin marbles. And Stephen Fry stood out as an unlikely hero of the Hellenic cause.

The Elgin marbles were stripped from the Parthenon and brought to the UK in the 19th century by Lord Elgin, the British ambassador in Constantinople when the Turks controlled Greece. The priceless sculptures have been held at the British Museum ever since, and although the British government claims that they were legally acquired, they have been a sore point in the cultural relationship between the two countries for just as long.
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June 13, 2012

Stephen Fry convinces the public that returning the Elgin Marbles would be the right thing to do

Posted at 1:12 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

More coverage of the Intelligence Squared debate on the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles held at Cadogan Hall last Monday. The London Bytes blog also has a good writeup of the event.

From:
Guardian

Stephen Fry steals show, and Greek hearts, in Parthenon marbles debate
A talk in London about whether the British Museum should return the sculptures was screened live to an audience in Athens
Posted by
Lizzy Davies
Tuesday 12 June 2012 15.00 BST

They came in their Athenian finery, filing patiently into the low-lit auditorium and waiting to hear a message of hope. Its deliverer: a man who until recently was unknown to them but who is now regarded as something of a hero; a saviour of the Greek people in the face of foreign meddling and arrogance; a man who has come to their rescue in troubled times to fight for Hellenic pride.

No, restrain yourselves; it wasn’t Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras. The man they had come to see was one Stephen Fry, and the issue at stake was the future of the Parthenon marbles, currently held by the British Museum.
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More coverage of Andrew George MP & Stephen Fry’s success in Monday’s Parthenon Marble debate

Posted at 1:00 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

More coverage of the results of Monday’s debate on the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, organised by Intelligence Squared.

From:
Daily Telegraph

Stephen Fry calls for Britain to return Parthenon Frieze to Greece
Stephen Fry said that the classical Greek sculptures, which reside in the British Museum, should be returned to “a country in dire need”.
By Florence Waters
10:51AM BST 12 Jun 2012

The actor has said that restoring the marbles, which rank among the greatest treasures in British Museum’s collection, would be the ultimate show of “friendship” to a country in crisis – and would send out the right message to the rest of the world.

The Parthenon Frieze, part of a wider collection of classical sculptures called the Elgin Marbles, has resided in Britain since the early 19th century when they were brought over to Britain by explorer Lord Elgin.
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Stephen Fry: “It would be a ‘classy’ move for Britain to return the Parthenon Marbles”

Posted at 12:46 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Some press coverage of the Intelligence Squared Parthenon Marbles debate that took place on Monday.

From:
BBC News

11 June 2012 Last updated at 22:30
Stephen Fry’s Parthenon Marbles plea backed in debate vote
By Trevor Timpson BBC News

A call backed by actor Stephen Fry for the return to Greece of the British Museum’s Parthenon Marbles has come out on top in a debate held in London.

Fry said it would be a “classy” move to restore the sculptures brought to the UK by Lord Elgin in the 19th Century.
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June 12, 2012

The Intelligence Squared debate over whether the Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Athens

Posted at 1:52 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Events

Along with many others, I attended the debate at Cadogan Hall in London last night, on whether the Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Athens.

The final line up for the debate was:

For the Motion
Andrew George MP
Stephen Fry

Against the motion
Tristram Hunt MP (& historian)
Professor Felipe Fernandez-Armesto (Professor of History at Notre Dame University in the USA)

The debate was chaired by BBC World News presenter Zeinab Badawi.

As people entered the debate, a poll was taken, and gave the following results:
For the motion: 196
Against the motion: 202
Undecided: 158

So, at this stage, those who wanted to keep the Marbles in the British Museum were in the majority, albeit by a small amount. The hope was, that even if these people couldn’t be convinced, to changed their minds, then those who were undecided would be able to be swung towards the case for their return.

I won’t go into too much detail on Andrew George’s arguments & Stephen Fry’s, as articles by both of them have already been posted on this site & there were no major surprises in the approach that they took (links to previous articles – Andrew George – Comment: No bailout, but will the Elgin marbles do? & Stephen Fry – A modest proposal). Andrew George opened, with his recounting of attempts to table an Early Day Motion about the Stone Henge megaliths in Greece (followup here), which although it is on the face of it just an amusing story, highlights that people may well see things differently, when they look at a similar situation from the opposite side of the table.

Stephen Fry’s assertions were for us to show that we can be a classy country – that we can do the right thing & make Britain look good on an international stage, rather than clinging on to the many fallacious arguments that often seem to engulf this issue.

Tristram Hunt mentioned early on, that “Athens is just as well equipped to look after the Marbles as Britain“. Coming from someone arguing to keep them here, perhaps this should finally put to rest, the contention (which probably should have gone away about the same time the British Empire ended) that the Greeks could not look after the artefacts as well as the British.

After this positive (for those arguing for their return) start though, there was some slight topic drift, with comparisons to the Wedgewood china around the world that comes from the potteries of Stoke-on-Trent (singing the praises of his own constituency as much as anything else). While he is right that Wedgewood pottery has made Stoke on Trent famous around the world, what we are talking about here is a product of the industrial revolution – something that is mass produced & designed to be sold. In most cases, there are no doubts over the rightful owners & none of the plates that I know of were ever designed with the purpose as serving as integral structural elements of a building in a UNESCO World Heritage site. He argued, that the people of Greece should be proud that their marbles are on display in the British Museum. Whether or not they are proud, is not quite the point here, as they never requested that they were put on display in Britain – so it can’t be compared to the popularity of loans made to museums, with the main intention of exhibiting culture around the world.

Then, the assertion was made, that the marbles had been acquired completely legally by Elgin. This statement (which he would not back down from), goes against much of the research into the firman, which we only know of through a single surviving translated copy in Italian, which gives Elgin no clear permission to do anything other than take casts & remove loose pieces of stone that had already fallen to the ground. Alluding to the run up to the second gulf war, Andrew George had already referred to the firman, as Elgin’s dodgy dossier. Even at the time of Elgin’s sale of the sculptures to the British government, the speaker’s notes read “Lord Elgin’s petition presented. The collection praised. Lord Elgin’s conduct, and his right to the collection as his private property much questioned. Petition to lie on the table.” so clearly not everyone sees this as quite such a clear cut case of completely legitimate ownership.

Hunt (Tristram, not Elgin’s chaplain) stated, that he sees the firman as entirely legal, on the basis that it has never been challenged in law. I wanted to ask him (but did not get the chance to), whether, on this basis, were the case of legitimate ownership by the British Museum challenged in a British or International court, he would then be willing to revoke this argument & accept that they were in Britain unlawfully.

Professor Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, took the stage after Stephen Fry, although he had earlier made some pointed comments that the motion for the debate had to be stuck to – that we were only discussing the merits of returning the Parthenon Marbles to Athens, & that whether or not they were going to be displayed in the New Acropolis Museum was not a relevant point.

After a complete derailment of the argument where he tried to describe Stephen Fry as a national treasure, he settled down to actually discussing the issue at hand. He sees the New Acropolis Museum as a different type of Museum to the British Museum, where we should think of it as being a mirror, rather than a window. This might be the cases, and they are definitely different types of museum – but that does not necessarily mean that one role or mode of display is somehow any more valid than another.

A lot of his reasoning hung on the Universal Museum argument – something that has received much criticism in the past & is definitely not an idea accepted universally. He pointed out that for professionals, having centres of reasearch is important, but it is unclear, why Athens itself (it does not have to be limited to a single institution, as they are all relatively near to one another) could not become a centre for the research of Greek sculpture on this basis. He suggested that only in the British Museum are researchers able to uncover new facts about the artefacts, but surely perhaps a whole different set of new findings might emerge if the sculptures could be observed in the context of other artefacts from the same location, but different eras?

The slippery slope (also known as the floodgates) argument was raised, yet this argument tends to ignore three points – the first being, that many artefacts have already been returned from museums for a variety of reasons & in a variety of circumstances, without opening any floodgates. The second point, is that each cases is unique & assessed on its own individual merits, so it is hard for a precedent to be set. The final problem with this argument, is that it advocates not taking the right action now, for fear that you might have to repeat it again in the future – when surely, if it is the right action, then it is right for it to be repeated?

He also raised the possibility that the campaign for return of the marbles was a recent thing & a sign of Greek nationalism – comparing it (somewhat insultingly) to the rise of Golden Dawn & Neo-Naziism at the most recent elections in Athens (I know many who support the return of the Marbles & none of them are even vaguely close to supporting the principles of Golden Dawn). This argument ignores many earlier restitution requests & proposals, along with the fact that Elgin’s actions were mentioned in a critical way less than fifty years after the removal of the sculptures.

There was quite a lengthy Q&A session, where members of the audience raised their own points both for & against the return of the sculptures. This revealed one other interesting point – they wanted to get the opinions of some Greeks, and it became clear, that while there were many Greeks in the audience, they were clearly outnumbered by the non-Greeks, probably constituting less than 20% of those there.

At the end, a new poll was taken, giving the following result:

For the motion: 384
Against the motion: 125
Undecided: 24

Note that the totals vary slightly, because a number of people had to leave early, as the debate lasted longer than had originally been indicated.

So what had begun as a slight win for those in favour of keeping the sculptures in Britain turned into a resounding vote in favour of their return.

If we look at the numbers more closely, we can see that the number in favour of return almost doubled, while those wanting to keep them here reduced by 60%. Only 15% of the original fence sitters were left, with the rest having managed to make up their mind one way or the other.

As an overall result, nearly three times as many people were in favour of the return of the sculptures as wanted to keep them in the UK, with less than 5% being unwilling to express an opinion either way.

This highlights what I have thought for a long time – that the more people know about the Marbles, the more they are likely to support their return. It definitely appeared to be true in this case.

Thank you to everyone who took part in the debate (on both sides) & attended it – I think a lot of people learned many new points about the subject & some were even persuaded to change their point of view on it. Thank you especially to Zeinab Badawi, for managing to control both sides, keeping them on topic & trying to let as many people have their say within a limited amount of time (and adding a bit of amusement to the proceedings at times too).

Edited recordings of the event will be broadcast on BBC World News at 09:10 and 21:10 on 23 June, and 02:10 and 15:10 on 24 June. See this post for more details of how to watch it.

After the first TV broadcast date, the recording will also be available to watch on Intelligence Squared’s website and on their Youtube Channel

Please use the #iq2marbles hashtag if you want to search for (or discuss) coverage of the event on Twitter

June 8, 2012

Parthenon Marbles debate to be broadcast live at Acropolis Museum & re-shown on following day

Posted at 12:58 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

More coverage of the fact that the Intelligence Squared debate on the Parthenon Marbles, will be relayed live to the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

Note also, that the final lineup for the debate has now been announced. Andrew George MP (Chair of the Marbles Reunited campaign) is to replace Anna Diamantopoulou, who is no longer able to attend because of the new elections that have been called in Greece for June 17th.

The chair for the debate has also been announced as BBC News presenter Zeinab Badawi.

From:
Kathimerini (English Edition)

Live from London: Debating on the Parthenon Marbles
Thursday June 7, 2012 (17:53)

Greece has found a number of prominent allies in the ongoing 200-year-old discussion on whether the Parthenon Marbles should leave the premises of the British Museum in London and return to Athens.

“What greater gesture could be made to Greece in its appalling finance distress? An act of friendship, atonement and an expression of faith in the future of the cradle of democracy would be so, well just so damned classy,” British comedian and author Stephen Fry wrote on the subject of their possible return in an essay published in December last year.
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June 2, 2012

Live broadcast of the Intellegence Squared Parthenon Marbles debate at the New Acropolis Museum

Posted at 12:37 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Events

The Intelligence Squared Debate in London on the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, is going to be streamed live to the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, for any Greeks (or others in the area at the time) who want to watch it.

The original article is in Greek. What follows is a rather poor attempt at converting it into English with Google Translate. Follow the link to read the original Greek text. And note that the times are different to the UK event, to allow for the different time zones.

There is also a poll on the page – so remember to visit the page to add your vote.

From:
Intelligence Squared Greece

EVENT INFO
Monday, June 11, 2012, 20.30 – 10.30 (20.20 close attendance)
Intelligence Squared Greece and the Acropolis Museum presents an exclusive live broadcast from London, the debate on the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens

Admission is free with pre-booked seats necessary.

Legally owned the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum? Would Greece be sure, if they returned to Athens? These two questions are central to a debate that lasts for more than 200 years. The views are changing, along with the conditions in both countries, but this issue remains unresolved. In a particularly critical period for Greece where the image of the country is often hit in the international media, but just before the Olympic Games in London, presents an Intelligence Squared debate on this timeless question. Whether the time has come to return the Marbles to Athens? Can this be a move to Greece friendship, or even the biggest tribute to our country? Or is the argument that Britain Greece does not have the resources they need maintenance of marbles and show them to a worldwide audience, be more true today than in the past?

* The debate will be held in English with simultaneous translation into Greek.

May 21, 2012

Olympic torch ceremony raises issues of Anglo-Hellenic disagreement over the Parthenon Sculptures to the forefront

Posted at 1:05 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

More coverage of yesterday’s article by Henry Porter, on why he thinks that Britain needs to reconsider their stance on the issue of the restitution of the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum.

From:
Kathimerini (English Edition)

Monday May 21, 2012
Ritual reignites Marbles debate

A few days after Greece handed the Olympic Flame to Britain, which is hosting the Olympic Games in July, another eminent Briton joined the chorus of those calling for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum.

In an article in Sunday’s Observer, veteran journalist Henry Porter called on Britons to look beyond Greece’s economic crisis and consider Western civilization’s debt to the country. “I am suggesting that in the light of everything Western civilization owes Greece — in terms of democratic ideas, the Olympics, science, art and architecture — we should begin to address a simple truth: The Parthenon Marbles are not ours to keep,” Porter wrote in the piece titled “The Greeks gave us the Olympics. Let them have their marbles.”
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April 25, 2012

Intelligence Squared organises London debate on the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 1:21 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Events

Intelligence Squared are organising a debate about whether the Parthenon Sculptures should be returned to Greece.

Speakers include Stephen Fry, who has recently written at length about why he supports the campaign for their return.

According to the website, the debate will also be later screened on BBC World News.

From:
Intelligence Squared

Send them back: The Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Athens
June 11th, 2012, Cadogan Hall
Doors open at 6pm. The debate will begin at 6.45pm and finish at 8.30pm

What’s all this nonsense about sending the Parthenon Marbles back to Greece? If Lord Elgin hadn’t rescued them from the Parthenon in Athens and presented them to the British Museum almost 200 years ago, these exquisite sculptures – the finest embodiment of the classical ideal of beauty and harmony – would have been lost to the ravages of pollution and time. So we have every right to keep them: indeed, returning them would set a dangerous precedent, setting off a clamour for every Egyptian mummy and Grecian urn to be wrenched from the world’s museums and sent back to its country of origin. It is great institutions like the British Museum that have established such artefacts as items of world significance: more people see the Marbles in the BM than visit Athens every year. Why send them back to relative obscurity?

But aren’t such arguments a little too imperialistic? All this talk of visitor numbers and dangerous precedents – doesn’t it just sound like an excuse for Britain to hold on to dubiously acquired treasures that were removed without the consent of the Greek people to whom they culturally and historically belong? That’s what Lord Byron thought, and now Stephen Fry is taking up the cause. We should return the Marbles as a gesture of solidarity with Greece in its financial distress, says Fry, and as a mark of respect for the cradle of democracy and the birthplace of rational thought.
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