Students Staff

18 November 2010

Eight giant Easter Island statues arrive in London for international exhibition and conference

Cultural Attache at the Embassy of Chile Cristian Leon with the curating team Martyn Harris, Dr Ian Conrich and Dr Roy Smith

Recreations of the mysterious stone heads of Easter Island are at the centre of a new exhibition on the famous statues which have become a worldwide icon.

Easter Island, Myths and Popular Culture is being held at Canning House in London until Friday 26 November. The exhibition will then be staged at the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum in Marton, Middlesborough, the Kon-Tiki Museum in Norway and finally the Father Sebastian Englert Anthropological Museum on Easter Island.

Seven of the stone heads, known as ‘moai’, especially created for the exhibition and measuring up to 10ft tall are on show at the Canning House exhibition. The other statue is at the Chilean Embassy, which will be hosting the international symposium Easter Island: Cultural and Historical Perspectives on Friday 19 November.

The exhibition has been curated by Dr Ian Conrich, Fellow at the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex.

He said: “Before this exhibition there was only one moai in London at the British Museum, now we have another eight. This exhibition shows their massive popular appeal and their continuing use in everything from films, adverts and toys through to computer games, comics and cartoons.”

The exhibition features more than 300 images, 150 objects and many interactive elements. During its international tour it will also be complemented by a series of linked events and workshops.
Dr Conrich said he hoped they would reveal the extensive cultural impact of the moai created on the small Pacific Island: “Easter Island’s stone statues have long held a popular appeal which has extended far into the culture of foreign countries.

“We are trying to understand how it has captured the imaginations of different cultures around the world and to do that we are bringing together academics from a wide range of backgrounds including cultural studies, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, and international relations..

“This material has never been brought together in this way before and it is a huge coup to be able to put it on display here in London and at the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, the Kon-Tiki Museum and on Easter Island.”

Dr Conrich said it would be fascinating to see how islanders react to the exhibition when it is staged on Easter Island.

He said: “I have shown material like this to islanders before and they are stunned by the way the statues are represented in the culture of other countries.”

The exhibition has been put together in partnership with co-curators Dr Roy Smith from Nottingham Trent University and Martyn Harris from Birkbeck, University of London. They have been assisted by Dr Dan Bendrups from the University of Otago, New Zealand, Dr Grant McCall from the University of New South Wales and Easter Island based researcher Frieder Wahl.

Full details of Easter Island, Myths and Popular Culture at Canning House

Notes to Editors
For further information please contact the University of Essex Communications Office on 01206 873529 or email:

Exhibition details:
Advance exhibition
Canning House, Belgrave Square, London - until November 26

Full exhibition
Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, Marton, Middlesborough – 5 March to 4 September 2011
Kon-Tiki Museum, Oslo, Norway – 6 October 2011 to 31 March 2012
Father Sebastian Englert Anthropological Museum on Easter Island –8 May to 30 September 2012

Symposium details:
Friday 19 November
Easter Island: Cultural and Historical Perspectives,
Embassy of Chile, 37-41 Old Queen Street, Whitehall, London
For further details email:

The international conference will include presentations by:
Ian Conrich, University of Essex,
Albert Davletshin, Russian State University for the Humanities,
Maxi Haase, University of Heidelberg,
Sue Hamilton, University College London,
Martyn Harris, Birkbeck, University of London,
Grant McCall, University of New South Wales,
Hermann Mueckler, University of Vienna,
Phil Philo, Captain Cook Birthplace Museum,
Rafal Wieczorek, University of Rome III,
Colin Richards, University of Manchester,
Roy Smith, Nottingham Trent University,
Ruth Whitehouse, University College London.

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