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Excavation of the creative journey

Release date:
8 November 2017
Join archaeologist and British Museum curator Dr St John Simpson at the next bp Cultural Visions lecture, as he talks about his life and current role as a senior curator working in the Museum’s Middle East department

After years spent extensively excavating in the Middle East and Central Asia, including sites from prehistoric to recent times, he is now accountable for the British Museum’s pre-Islamic collections from Iran and Arabia.


From 1992 to 2000 he co-directed an international collaborative project at the important ancient “Silk Road” city-site of Merv (modern Turkmenistan). His core research field is Sasanian and early Islamic – perhaps better defined as Late Antique and Medieval - material culture from Iraq, Iran, the Persian Gulf and Central Asia, and he has published several books and over 85 research articles.


Within the British Museum he has curated three major exhibitions, including the current bp exhibition Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia and he has contributed to many other smaller displays and led the curatorial team on the development of new permanent gallery displays for Ancient Iran and Ancient South Arabia which opened in 2007.


He is the deputy director for the Museum’s Iraq Emergency Heritage Management Training Scheme made possible with a £2.9 million grant from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). In addition to this work, he supervises a small number of PhD students and is leading on the Museum project, Collecting Postcards of the Middle East.


Des Violaris, bp Director of UK Arts, Culture and Paralympics, said: “The BP Cultural Visions Lecture Series offers the opportunity to listen to the challenges and the obstacles faced by some of the UK’s leading creative visionaries, how this shaped them into the people they are today and to be part of the conversation around a cultural vision for the future. We are delighted to welcome Dr St John Simpson as our guest speaker to share his thoughts from what has already been such an incredible career.”


Fran Hegyi, Executive Director at Hull 2017, said: “Culture, art and creativity dates back to the very beginning of humanity and has played an important part in our development as a species and as a society. I am fascinated to hear the thoughts of Dr St John Simpson who is undoubtedly one of our country’s most experienced and knowledgeable curators.”


Featuring varied and prominent speakers, the lectures provide a fresh space to investigate and celebrate innovation and passion. A collaboration between bp and the University of Hull, the series is designed to spark cultural conversation with monthly lectures throughout 2017.


The event will take place at 6.30pm on Wednesday 15 November in Middleton Hall at the University of Hull.


Book online at: hull2017.co.uk/culturalvisions and culturenet.co.uk


For media enquiries, please contact Sarah Lilly at the University of Hull press office on 01482 462193 or s.l.lilly@hull.ac.uk

Notes to editors

bp support for UK Arts & Culture

In the UK, bp is a major supporter of the arts with a programme that spans over 50 years. bp’s investment in long term partnerships with the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House, and the Royal Shakespeare Company represent one of the most significant long-term corporate investments in UK arts and culture www.bp.com/arts.


bp is a global energy company with wide reach across the world’s energy system. The energy we produce serves to power economic growth and lift people out of poverty. In the future, the way heat, light and mobility are delivered will change. We aim to anchor our business in these changing patterns of demand, rather than in the quest for supply. We have a real contribution to make the world’s ambition of a low carbon future. We have operations in Europe, North and South America, Australasia, Asia and Africa, and employ around 75,000 people.


BP Hull is home to some of bp’s most innovative operations. We own and operate a chemical manufacturing facility which is the largest producer of acetic acid and acetic anhydride in Europe. bp is at the forefront of research and technology in the petrochemicals field, and Hull is one of our principle global centres for petrochemicals research and technology. In addition, Hull hosts part of bp’s Centre of Expertise in Applied Chemistry and Physics (AC&P). Earlier this year, we marked our 50thanniversary at bp Hull.  


Fast facts:

  • 74,500 employees
  • 72 countries
  • 17,810 million boe proved reserves
  • 18,000 retail sites
  •  6,000+ marine voyages completed by bp-operated and chartered vessels
  • $115 million profit attributable to bp shareholders
  • 3.3 million boepd production
  • $2.6 billion underlying replacement cost profit
  • 109% group proved reserves replacement ratio


University of Hull

Creativity lives and breathes at the University of Hull – always has done, always will.


As a catalyst for creativity we are a keen supporter of arts and culture within our community and beyond – and now, as a principal partner of Hull UK City of Culture 2017 we are delighted to be an integral part of the celebrations.


The University of Hull is playing a significant role in producing and hosting some of the spectacular events that form part of the Hull 2017 programme including, in the first few months alone, an exhibition of drawings from some of art’s prominent masters from Matisse to Michelangelo; a film festival dedicated to Oscar-winning Director Minghella who kick-started his career here; and an exhibition of bp Portrait Award Commissions from the National Portrait Gallery featuring famous faces from Paul Smith to J.K. Rowling. Some of this activity is being held in our newly relaunched Middleton Hall which, following a £9.5million redevelopment, is now a world-class concert and arts venue.


University of Hull students, graduates and staff are at the heart of the programming with conferences, concerts and festivals showcasing their talent. In addition, as the exclusive academic partner we are an official partner in creativity and in helping to pave the way for future generations.


For further information visit www.hull.ac.uk


Hull UK City of Culture 2017

Hull UK City of Culture 2017 is a 365 day programme of cultural events and creativity inspired by the city and told to the world. Hull secured the title of UK City of Culture 2017 in November 2013. It is only the second city to hold the title and the first in England. Divided into four seasons, this nationally significant event draws on the distinctive spirit of the city and the artists, writers, directors, musicians, revolutionaries and thinkers that have made such a significant contribution to the development of art and ideas.


The Culture Company was set up to deliver the Hull 2017 programme and is an independent organisation with charitable status. It has raised £32 million, with over 70 partners supporting the project, including public bodies, trusts and foundations and local and national businesses.


Key contributions are coming from: Host City – Hull City Council; Principal Partners - Arts Council England, BBC, Big Lottery Fund, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, KCOM, KWL, Spirit of 2012, Yorkshire Water and the University of Hull; Major Partners –Associated British Ports, Arco, bp, the British Council, British Film Institute, Green Port Hull, Hull Clinical Commissioning Group, MKM Building Supplies, P&O Ferries, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Sewell Group, Siemens, Smith & Nephew and Wykeland Group. The National Lottery has contributed more than £10m of this funding, making it the largest single funding body for Hull 2017.


For information go to www.visithull.org