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The City of Cambridge welcomes the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad

  • Date: 25 May 2012
  • Area: South East
Two women in cafe

LACE, Hunt & Darton Cafe. Credit: Photograph by Christa Holka

Cambridge has embraced the start of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and welcomed The Search for Immortality: Tomb Treasures of Han China at the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Hunt & Darton pop-up cafe into the city; highlighting the exciting and diverse programme of events, performances, exhibitions and activities on offer to the public this summer.

Helen Lax, Regional Director, Arts Council England, said ‘Thanks to the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival you’re unlikely to be short of things to do this summer, not just in Cambridge but across the East of England. From the priceless treasures of the Imperial tombs of Han China at the Fitzwilliam Museum to Hunt & Darton’s quirky pop-up café, this fantastic and diverse offering is a taste of what is set to be a spectacular celebration of arts and culture across the region.’

Attracting huge interest in the City of Cambridge and beyond, the Fitzwilliam Museum, part of University of Cambridge Museums (an Arts Council England Major partner museum consortium) is hosting the largest and most important exhibition of ancient royal treasures ever to travel outside China.

The Search for Immortality: The Tomb Treasures of Han China, an exhibition exclusive to the City of Cambridge relates the story of the quest for immortality and the struggle for imperial legitimacy in ancient China. It features over 350 treasures in jade, gold, silver, bronze and ceramics with highlights including;

• Two jade burial armour suits belonging to the rival rulers, painstakingly made from thousands of plaques of jade, sewn together with gold or silk thread.
• Lavish burial furnishings in jade thought to ward off demons or to serve the emperor in the afterlife, such as a jade cup to catch the morning dew that ensured immortality.
• Spectacular objects in gold, including imperial seals and exotically decorated belt buckles.
• Pottery dancers, musicians and servants.

This fantastic exhibition is open to the public until 11 November 2012 at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; with lectures, workshops and educational events planned throughout 2012, to complement the exhibition.

The Search for Immortality: Tomb Treasures of Han China is part of The Stories of the World programme led by Arts Council England and part of the Cultural Olympiad. It works with 60 museums across the country. Stories of the World gets young people working with curators, film makers, artists, writers and musicians to explore and reinterpret museum collections, giving us a new perspective on the stories that tell us about our place in the world.

Setting up shop on Regent Street, the Hunt & Darton Cafe has provided a great source of intrigue and entertainment to the City of Cambridge.  The pop-up Cafe opened their doors for four weeks, offering local residents the opportunity to sample an original menu whilst becoming part of a unique performance space. Instead of stumbling into a café and relying on a shot of coffee to energise you in the morning, the Hunt & Darton Cafe provided customers with a host of engaging and innovative displays to wake them up whilst tantalising the senses! Live art duo Jenny Hunt & Holly Darton exposed the inner workings of their business by presenting everything as art, not just the décor but the people that customers were served by, the menu available, even the till rolls and profit and loss sheets were open to customer scrutiny, written up daily on a huge blackboard.

Twenty brand new commissions from top artists – including Richard Layzell, Stacy Makishi and Bryony Kimmings – ensured that customers had a unique experience each day, with performances by guest waiters and surprising artworks installed throughout the café.

The Hunt & Darton Cafe offered locals an experience that they could not find anywhere else and the roast dinner sandwiches, served with a twist attracted locals from across the City.

Hunt & Darton Cafe is one of Live Art Collective East (LACE) eight commissions that are arriving in the East of England this summer as part of the Cultural Olympiad.  LACE has been granted the Inspire Mark by the London 2012 Inspire programme which recognises innovative and exceptional projects that are directly inspired by the 2012 Games.

Next stop for Hunt & Darton will be Edinburgh as part of Escalator East To Edinburgh later in the Summer.

Find out more details on the fantastic performance art, live art, visual art, dance, theatre and digital art that LACE are producing in unusual places and spaces across the region this summer.