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    Behind the Scenes of the Cabinet

    By Helen Pike, on 2 February 2016

    In our continuing series to document the process behind the next exhibition in the Octagon, artists Mark Peter Wright and Helena Hunter who were chosen to work with curators and academic researchers from UCL led by Helen Pike, Public Programmer at The Petrie Museum give an update on their methodology. Mark is an artist and researcher working across sound, video, assemblage and performance and Helena’s practice spans performance, text and moving image. The blog offers a chance for ideas to be presented and hopefully engage comment and conversation!

    BDA-UC1-0016

    Over the last couple of months we have been developing a concept and method for material display entitled The Cabinets of Consequence for the forthcoming new Octagon exhibition. This is a reference and adaptation of the ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. Originating from a 17th century European tradition, cabinets of curiosity were ramshackle rooms furnished with an abundance of objects of artistry, craftsmanship and relics. Wunderkammers as they were called, productively disturb taxonomic conventions of display, however, the emphasis on curiosity detaches objects from their ethical and social-political contexts.

    We want to destabilize hierarchies of display but not at the expense of the entangled geo-political histories of archives and processes of asymmetrical extraction on which objects have been collected.

    We intend therefore, to emphasize the multiple ecologies (Guattari, 2000) around such materials. The central challenge for us is to hold onto the vibrant materiality of objects, whilst simultaneously projecting matter into its ethico-political milieu: an aesthetics of display that not only works backwards through history, but also forwards, through the present and its possible futures.

    ‘A new metaphysics (materialism) is not restricted to a here and now, nor does it merely project an image of the future for us. It announces what we may call a “new tradition,” which simultaneously gives us a past, a present, and a future.’ Dolphijn, R & Van der Tuin, I.

    Specimen of the Week 225: The preserved Chameleon

    By Sophie M Kostelecky, on 1 February 2016

    “Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chameleon”

    The English band, Culture Club said almost everything one needs to know about this week’s Specimen of the Week with their 1983 hit single “Karma Chameleon”.

    Using the wise words of the Culture Club to guide us, we will embark on a journey of discovery and come to find that this reptile group, containing approximately 180 different types is anything but common. That said, this week’ Specimen of the Week is……….

    LDUCZ-X79 preserved common chameleon

    LDUCZ-X79 preserved common chameleon

    (more…)

    A King as catapult practice!

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 21 January 2016

    Detail of Noel Lemire (1724 – 1801), After Jean Michel Moreau (1741 – 1814), Louis Seize, 1792, Coloured etching, Inscribed: Bonnet des Jacobins donné au Roi 20 Juin 1792 (The Jacobin bonnet of liberty given to the King 20 June 1792); A Paris Chez L’Auteur Rue des Augustins, UCL Art Museum

    Detail of Noel Lemire (1724 – 1801), After Jean Michel Moreau (1741 – 1814), Louis Seize, 1792, Coloured etching, Inscribed: Bonnet des Jacobins donné au Roi 20 Juin 1792 (The Jacobin bonnet of liberty given to the King 20 June 1792); A Paris Chez L’Auteur Rue des Augustins, UCL Art Museum

    On this day, 21 January 1793, Louis XVI of France, stepped out of a carriage in the Place de la Révolution (formerly Place Louis XV) and climbed the steps to the guillotine.

    (more…)

    Revolution under a King: French Prints 1789-92

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 15 January 2016

    Louis Seize lightbox print

    Detail from the light box outside UCL Art Museum of Jean-Michel Moreau after Noël Le Mire, Louis Seize: Bonnett des Jacobins Donne au roi, le 6 Juin 1792, Copper Engraving, UCL Art Museum

    Our exhibition Revolution under a King opened with the start of term at UCL on Monday 11 January. The exhibition features a selection of prints from the early, highly volatile years of the French Revolution, curated by Emeritus Professor David Bindman and Dr Richard Taws, in collaboration between UCL Art Museum and UCL History of Art. Is already attracting visitor numbers that we have grown to be accustomed to since the Museum’s refurbishment – on average 80 visitors per day and on average visitors can be found spending between 30-45min in the museum. It has been wonderful working on this exhibition, as it really highlights the complexity of curatorial practice with researchers, which is highly collaborative and unites multiple, sometimes competing, agendas. I’m really pleased with the outcome.

    (more…)

    New Year, New Resolutions: Museum Conservation Conversations on the UCL PACE Museums and Collections Blog!

    By Susi Pancaldo, on 12 January 2016

    The PACE Conservation Laboratory on UCL’s Bloomsbury Campus serves the needs of UCL’s diverse collections. The objects we have examined and treated in 2015 have ranged from fragile inorganic and organic archaeological materials, small sculpture and other works of art, dry- and fluid-preserved zoological specimens, all manner of scientific teaching models, an array of mechanical and electrical scientific instruments, and much, much more!!

    UC40989 faience shabti, during treatment: Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology Museum; UCLAM10026 bronze medal of Prosper Sainton: UCL Art Museum; Z2978 mammoth tusk: Grant Museum of Zoology; Mathematical model: UCL Maths.

    Faience ‘shabti,’ during treatment: Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology (UC20989); Bronze medal: UCL Art Museum (10026); Mammoth tusk: Grant Museum of Zoology (Z2978); Mathematical model: UCL Maths.

    These objects have come to our Conservation Lab from UCL’s collections for a variety of reasons. Some need to be cleaned or repaired ahead of use in teaching, research, loan or display. Some present mysteries which close examination and scientific analysis may help unravel. Others have been selected for treatment as part of ongoing programmes to improve the condition of collections currently in storage.

    Each object has a story to tell, and with the start of this New Year, we have made a resolution to share the work we do with our blog audiences. (more…)

    Galton Island Discs

    By Subhadra Das, on 17 December 2015

    Desert Island Discs

    Would being marooned here be that bad, really?

    You’ll remember I have a motto? This time it’s the turn of the classic ‘Desert Island Discs’. Approaching Christmas, this seemed a good a time to take a more light-hearted look at Galton while simultaneously sneaking in multiple references to his considerable influence on the way we live now.

    Each entry lists the track title, year it came out, the album it featured on and the artist, along with an extract of lyrics which relate to the story of Galton’s life and work. Click on the track title for a link to a YouTube video so you can get a taste of what the songs sound like[1].

    1. 1. “Flagpole Sitta”, 1997, Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?, Harvey Danger

    Been around the world and found that only stupid people are breeding, The cretins cloning and feeding , And I don’t even own a tv.

    This indie anthem for the disenfranchised – superlatively used as the theme for the Channel 4 comedy ‘Peep Show’ – ironically and concisely captures a Galtonian worldview. Like many rich white men who benefitted incalculably from the colonial project, Galton was concerned that the quality of the British population was being irreversibly eroded by the Industrial Revolution which, among other things, allowed masses of the ‘unfit’ to agglomerate in metropolitan centres and increase their numbers.

    (more…)

    Specimen of Week 214: Fossil Vertebrae

    By Tannis Davidson, on 16 November 2015

    LDUCZ-X1111 Dimetrodon vertebrae

    LDUCZ-X1111 Dimetrodon sp.vertebrae

    In the spotlight this week is a specimen that is currently experiencing it’s ‘busy season’. The Grant Museum collection is widely used in teaching at UCL and the Museum is home to many specimen-based practicals. For example, during term 1 in 2014, there were 34 practicals using over 600 specimens by 1400 students.

    Amidst this flurry of activity, certain specimens catch the eye. Is it that they are finally freed from the safe-keeping of their fossil drawers and have their moment to shine? Could it be that they are used over and over and over again to illustrate a turning point in evolution so critical that repeat viewings are essential? Or is it that the specimen is quite simply, an attractive object in itself, perhaps a worthy contestant in a specimen beauty contest?

    This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Social Constructs, Slade Coldstream prize 2015

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 31 July 2015

    She reads:

    “Where am I? Inside. Outside. Included. Excluded”
    Pause. Changing page. She continues:
    “ I, a mime student: an actor without words. I, a dancer: repeating movement by movement. Again and again”

    Anja Olofgörs reading during performance of her piece Social Constructs

    Anja Olofgörs reading during performance of her piece Social Constructs, Slade MA Degree Show, 2015

    (more…)

    The greatest living Art Collection (at UCL)

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 1 July 2015

    Dyck, Anthony van (1599-1641), Anthony Van Dyck, 1645, UCL Art Museum Collection

    Dyck, Anthony van (1599-1641), Anthony Van Dyck, 1645, UCL Art Museum Collection

    At Glastonbury Festival this year, singer Kanye West claimed he was the ‘greatest living rock star on the planet’. Here at the UCL Art Museum, we’d like to claim that we are the greatest living art collection on campus, hosting a wonderful treasure trove of work dating from the 1490’s to the present day. We can afford to be as confident as Kanye, with a collection by artists such as Durer, Rembrandt, Van Dyck Turner, Dora Carrington, Stanley Spencer and Paula Rego.

    (more…)

    Subversive Millinery workshop

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 24 June 2015

    Subversive Millinery workshop

    Subversive Millinery workshop

    Last Thursday 18 June UCL Art Museum was the setting for a meeting of the secret subversive millinery group (also known as our annual hat making workshop).

    (more…)