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Roman drinking cup featuring male lovers inspires new Pride artworks

The British Museum’s controversial Warren Cup has inspired new artworks with a Pride theme (Tim Ireland/PA)
The British Museum’s controversial Warren Cup has inspired new artworks with a Pride theme (Tim Ireland/PA)

A Roman drinking cup featuring sexual scenes involving male lovers has inspired new objects to “draw attention to issues still affecting the LGBTQ community”.

The Warren Cup sparked controversy when it was bought for £1.8 million by the British Museum in 1999.

In a project with Stonewall, silversmith Hal Messel has created eight new cups, each tinted to represent a colour of the Pride rainbow flag.

Messel said: “Depictions of sex were widely found and in fact celebrated in Roman art, but, for hundreds of years, same-sex relationships have been all but erased from history as so few artefacts have survived – or have been overlooked, ignored or hidden away for fear of public outcry.

“This project is all about tackling assumptions and raising awareness around how gender identity and sexual orientation continue to remain on the fringes of so much contemporary art.”

A donation from the sale of the cups will go to support “Stonewall’s work to achieve acceptance without exception for all LGBTQ people and the British Museum’s continued work with the LGBTQ community”.

Sarah Saunders, the British Museum’s head of learning and national programmes, said: “We’re delighted that the Pride Cup project … is drawing attention to an object which is one of the museum’s highlights and one which deserves to be more widely known.”

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