Friday, 20 February 2015

Model Wonders 7: The Lost Edition

In the last couple of weeks the art world has been stunned by the potential discovery of two bronze statuettes thought to have been made by Michelangelo. Well, art world, prepare to be stunned again. My recent editions of Model Wonders, my widely-acclaimed series on small souvenir models of prospective World Wonders, featured gems from the Americas and from Europe, as well as a small cache of other models. It appeared that we'd seen everything - but no! When Danielle and I were in Turkey, Burness joined us for a couple of weeks. Very kindly, when he went home and as we continued travelling, he took a box from me to lighten my backpack. Last month that box was returned. The contents would rock not only the world of art, but the world of everything!

Here they are:


I was a little nervous before visiting Meteora. Just a handful of humble monasteries on rocks, surely these hallowed and austere spots wouldn't sell tacky souvenirs? Nope - some of them have gift shops right inside the monastery packed full of this kind of thing. It's great! I chose this one because... well, why not? It was better than the rest I guess.

The Blue Mosque

Easy. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is a massive traditional shopping mall dedicated to selling stuff to tourists. I did a cursory wander then picked a likely looking stall, and with minimal haggling got this and the Hagia Sophia below as part of a "special deal."

Hagia Sophia

I should really have checked properly before buying as the tiny golden spire was snapped off. Still, like the Blue Mosque above, it's a no-nonsense representation of the real thing.

The Christ the Redeemer

I could probably have bought about a hundred different Christ statues, right on-site, in one of the 3+ official souvenir shops. Some of them are awful and barely resemble the real thing at all, save for being a bearded guy with his arms out. This at least looks the part. It was pretty cheap, but if I'd been willing to shell out a lot more, there were some nice, if pricey, versions.

Some stuff in Shanghai

Hmm. I think bridge might resemble some real bridge somewhere. To be honest, these are a supplementary part of my model collection. I only bought them because Danielle and I were wandering through some fashionable set of alleyway courtyards with lots of little artisan shops and we noticed this guy with a stall, full of this kind of thing. They were all made entirely from coke cans! Really, the two above are reconfigured from the aluminium of coke cans and painted over. That's pretty cool, so we bought a couple, for something like a fiver.

Oriental Pearl Tower

I'm missing the base for this. It's somewhere, but I can't remember where I put it. The base is battery powered and lights the clear plastic model up in green and red, and maybe other colours too I can't quite remember. It joins the my limited pantheon of light-up models (only the Golden Temple and the Lotus Temple, from memory, have flashing lights too). This cost about a fiver too, from a guy by the river, who also sold us a pack of pornographic Kama Sutra playing cards. But to our disappointment, the playing cards - although just traditional style cartoons - had all the risque body parts blurred out! How are we supposed to learn from that?

Chartres Cathedral

A model of Chartres Cathedral bought in a nearby souvenir shop. Not much more to be said.

The Parthenon

This seems to have got a little damaged in transit - I blame Burness. It just adds to the authenticity I suppose, although this version of the Parthenon is clearly pre-1687 explosion, as the columns are all intact. Modern day Athens is no longer a functional city, it is just street after street of souvenir shops these days, all selling ancient Greek-based tat. What a strange state of affairs. I find it quite challenging when there are so many souvenir shops around as I end up spending hours hunting for the perfect souvenir, and rarely feel satisfied. It's much easier when there's just a couple of souvenir shops, and they both sell a straightforward facsimile of the Wonder, as per Chartres above.

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