Events
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    MD4: Mysticism and Insecurity

    By Jacinta M Mulders, on 5 January 2018

    MD4 at The Koppel Project. Photo credit: Kai Syng Tan

    The Global Engagement Funds are intended to support UCL academics collaborating with colleagues based in other countries. Last year, they enabled Professor Andrew Stahl of the UCL Slade School of Fine Art to bring several brilliant Thai artists to the UK for a fourth edition of Monologue/Dialogue. Curated by Professor Stahl, Monologue/Dialogue is an exhibition series alternating between Thailand and the UK. Originating from a British Council initiated and funded residency and exhibition in Bangkok, Professor Stahl has organised and participated in the project since 2006. The key focus of the project has been to celebrate transcultural conversations by bringing together artists mainly from Thailand and the UK but also from different parts of the world to install or construct work together, and develop existing contacts between UK and Thai universities and in some way to reflect on the transcultural nature of today’s discourse for artists.

    This edition, ‘MD4: Mysticism and Insecurity’, took place in London’s Koppel Gallery in Baker Street. It involved 16 artists mainly from Thailand and the UK, but also from Singapore, Bangladesh, China and Japan.

    In collaboration with Dr Kai Syng Tan (UCL Institute of Advanced Studies), an artist, curator, and researcher, Professor Stahl organised numerous events in the gallery including tours of the exhibition and discussions engaging the public, students and artists. The project received additional funding from the Royal Thai Embassy and was opened by his Excellency the Thai ambassador.

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    The Great Grant Knit-a-Thon

    By Siobhan Pipa, on 5 June 2015

    I’ve always wanted to learn how to knit. Unfortunately a lack of hand-eye coordination and a short attention span mean that it’s a skill I’ve never quite mastered. I also really like quirky museums. So naturally the Grant Knit-a-Thon, organised by the UCL Grant Museum of Zoology as part of this year’s UCL Festival of the Arts, seemed like the perfect event to me.

    Knitted armadillo on display at Grant Museum  (C) Grant Museum

    Knitted armadillo on display at Grant Museum
    (C) Grant Museum

    Teaming up with East London yarning collective, Prick Your Finger, the Grant Museum offered novices and experts alike a day of knitting, crocheting and stitching – all whilst giving us the chance to explore the museum’s current exhibition ‘Strange Creatures: The art of unknown animals’.

    The knit-a-thon was inspired by one of the pieces currently on display in ‘Strange Creatures’ – Ruth Marshall’s knitted Tasmanian Tiger skin. The knitted pelt was chosen for inclusion in the exhibition by Sarah Wade (UCL History of Art), co-curator of ‘Strange Creatures’.

    As part of the knit-a-thon activities, Sarah gave a fascinating talk on how natural history museums use contemporary art and craft to engage with visitors.

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    Lunch Hour Lectures: Bright Sparks – the history and science of fireworks

    By Kilian Thayaparan, on 3 November 2014

    FireworksWith 5 November just around the corner, this Lunch Hour Lecture on how fireworks have helped to develop a relationship between science and art from Dr Simon Werrett (UCL Science and Technology Studies) made the perfect prelude to the annual lighting up of the UK’s skies.

    Dr Werrett began by talking about his interest in fireworks, explaining to the sizeable audience (which he was pleasantly surprised with considering the “freakishly warm weather” for this time of year) that their incorporation of and connection with the seemingly conflicting fields of art and science has always fascinated him.

    He then guided the audience through the history of fireworks, starting with their Chinese origins. Dry bamboo with gunpowder inside is recognised as the first type of firework, the ‘big bang’ used to ward off “mountain men of evil spirits”. In the 12th century, this technique and others like it were then used to create firework displays for Chinese emperors.

    The Mongol invasion of Asia followed by central Europe brought firecrackers and gunpowder technology to this continent in the 13th century, and by the late 15th century firework displays were relatively common. One key example is the Girandola in Rome – a display that celebrated the election of a new Pope, the apocalyptic nature of the display symbolising death and rebirth.

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    Music revolution! Mozart. Rossini. Whatever next?

    By Jack H C Dean, on 10 June 2014

    After learning about the unity that could be achieved at the opera at my last UCL Festival of the Arts event, I was keen to actually experience an aria or two and learn more about the art form that had so compelled Nietzsche.

    I was in luck. Will Bowers (UCL English), dressed in two-tone brogues and a pin-stripe suit, like a 1920s mobster who happened to specialise in the opera culture of the romantic period, led the event. Excerpts were sung by Carl Gombrich (bass, Programme Director UCL Arts and Sciences) and Emily Tsui (soprano, second year undergraduate, UCL Arts and Sciences) and Bryan Solomon (UCL Information Services Division) played piano.

    Mozart

    Mozart

    Bowers spoke with elegance and insight about all things 1780s-1820s opera culture. Opera was often performed with “no narrative. It was all about the virtuosity of the performer”. The audience would drink and gamble. The performers would riff and improvise melody and rehearsals were non-existent. Opera existed in a realm of miscellany and elitist debauchery.

    It wasn’t until 1789 that the British opera began to shed the shaggy raiments of its past. The Haymarket theatre burnt to the ground and with Britain’s chief opera centre in cinders there was an opportunity for a rethink. The information explosion of the following decade helped in democratising debate and  in siphoning opera into mainstream culture. The opera was a “complicated machine” and Britain was on the verge of a cultural renaissance.

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