skip to content

Faculty of Classics

Lines of Site: The Parthenon Frieze, abstract orange and teal artwork

Lines of Site

The Parthenon Frieze

An exhibition of contemporary works by Debbie Loftus

28 January - 28 March 2020


In this exhibition of very contemporary works, artist Debbie Loftus explores the resonance of shattered fragments and fractured lines within the harmonious flowing arabesques of the Parthenon frieze.


an abstract circular artwork, made up of black and red tracings and blue stitching

Debbie Loftus, Blind Eye View, triptych central panel (Copyright: the artist)


The bleached and broken stones that make up the Parthenon frieze as we see it today are like an immense beautiful jigsaw from which innumerable pieces have been lost. Those absences are poignant because they remind us that we are seeing isolated pieces of a distant, seemingly perfect world that can never be recaptured in its pristine entirety.

But this vision of the shattered stones is a romantic creation.

The colour choices made by ancient artists can seem garish to modern eyes, while the Parthenon itself is a war memorial, paid for with protection money. Over the centuries the magnificent temple and sculptures have suffered immense damage: some of it accidental, but mostly caused deliberately by vandals and warring factions.

The weathered stones that survive are facets of a historical process that stretches back 2,500 years. The stories they tell, recorded in the fractures and absences that inform Lines of Site, resonate richly with contemporary life.


The series was made during a time of chaotic political upheaval, and it explores both historical and contemporary ideas about social order, ideology, power and loss.

Debbie Loftus

For Loftus, the process of making the artworks involved the artistic decision to erase, destroy or replace areas of laboriously worked imagery, then layering the fragments to create new wholes.

Moreover, the opinions of visitors on the question of whether the Parthenon marbles belong in London or Athens also informed her approach: 'When I was drawing in the British Museum I was privileged to overhear many opinions on the subject, expressed by the many visitors who liked to come and stand next to me as I worked. As an artist, I felt it was my role to see and hear, while remaining as unobtrusive and unobserved as possible. That experience contributed to my title: Lines of Site.'


Second Sight: Braille, tactile images and the Parthenon Frieze

The works in this show began as a suite of six layered drawings exhibited at the British Museum in 2015, when Debbie Loftus was artist–in–residence for the premiere of a new cantata, Panathenaia by Thomas Hewitt Jones and Paul Williamson. In these works, Loftus engages directly with the bodily senses but also with their absence - hearing and not hearing an absent musical score, but also seeing and not seeing...

In the Braille-inspired triptych, Loftus takes inspiration from the 1998 publication, Second Sight of the Parthenon Frieze, which uses Braille and tactile images to communicate the composition of the frieze for blind and partially sighted users.

Reinterpreting the frieze as a tactile experience, the book proposes a special kind of one-to-one intimacy with the classical sculptures that suggested ways in which Lines of Site could close the gap between the aesthetic of the Parthenon and the modern artwork.

The book Second Sight of the Parthenon Frieze will be available for consultation at the Front Desk for the duration of the exhibition. Visitors are warmly welcomed to borrow it during their visit.

Accessibility information for visiting the Museum


About the Artist

the artist on a ladder, in front o brightly coloured art worksArtist Debbie Loftus at work (copyright: the artist): Debbie Loftus trained at the Chelsea School of Art and has a background in fine art, design and photography. She works on location and from her studio in London. Recent shows include the British Museum, London; Kings College, Cambridge; Ulriksdal Palace, Stockholm; and Tom Rowland fine art, London. Recent publications include Galileo 24 (2017), Six London Preludes (2017) and Clay: Themes and Variations from Ancient Mesopotamia (2018).






Workshop Tuesday 10 March 2020, 2-4pm: Lines of Site: Artist-led workshop

Touch Tour Date and time tbc


Find out more

Visit Debbie Loftus' website

Every cast tells two stories.
One ancient. One modern.

Admission is free.


We are open

Just drop in: no need to book


Christmas Closure

We will close at 5pm on Friday 17 December 2021 and will reopen at 10am on Wednesday 5th January.


Opening hours

Tues-Fri: 10am-5pm
Sat (univ. term-time only): 2-5pm
Sun and Monday: Closed

Closed on Bank Holidays


Saturday Opening

We are currently open on Saturdays until Saturday 27 November 2021.

Please note: We are only open on Saturdays during University of Cambridge term time.


Visit us

Museum of Classical Archaeology
Faculty of Classics
Sidgwick Avenue

We do not have an entrance on the road. Find us inside the Sidgwick Site.


Join our mailing list



Get in touch

Tel. +44 (0)1223 330402


Find us on social media:




We're good to go



Copyright statement

All images and material on our websites are ©Museum of Classical Archaeology, University of Cambridge unless otherwise stated. If you would like to reproduce our images, you can now do so for non-commercial use at no charge.

See also our Copyright Notice and Take Down Policy.