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Find the mind’s construction in the face: an exhibition of life and death masks

zclef7811 June 2014

noel

I have to admit that this was my first visit to the UCL Art Museum. After walking past it twice, I finally stumbled across the entrance to this carnivalesque little treasure trove and almost immediately part of me wished I hadn’t.

Surrounded by rows of the plaster life and death masks of poets and murderers, professors and highwaymen, child prodigies and medics, it wasn’t very clear where in this bizarre spectacle you might want to begin.

Thankfully, it was at this point that Dr Carole Reeves (UCL Science & Technology Studies) swooped in to put what felt like a macabre examination of someone’s final moments into its historical context.

The masks were collected in mid 19th-century Dresden by amateur phrenologist Robert Nole to illustrate ‘good’ and ‘bad’ types of people.

Donated to UCL as part of the Galton Collection in 1911, they exemplify the trend in 19th century aristocratic circles for pseudo-scientific hobbies. Nole’s particular predilection was phrenology: the study of head morphology and the belief that it is intrinsically linked to a person’s character.

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Eclectic designs on show at UCL Slade Print Fair

news editor29 November 2013

pencil-iconWritten by Jordan Rowe, Editorial Worker for UCL Media Relations

The warehouse-style double gated lift that greets you upon arrival at the Slade Research Centre on Woburn Square is the first indication that things are done a little differently here, after all this is the renowned UCL Slade School of Fine Art. As you draw back the gates when reaching the fifth floor, you’re met with an array of donated works for sale decorating the bright white walls. This is the Slade Print Fair.

Artwork on exhibition at the Slade Print Fair

It’s the school’s first ever event of this kind – and hopefully not last – with all proceeds helping raise funds for future graduate scholarships. On display is work from alumni, students, staff and invited artists along with a full programme of print-related events and live demonstrations taking place until Saturday 30th November.

Over 170 of the works being showcased are available to purchase there and then, in addition to 32 pieces from established artists being auctioned online here. Moving around the floor, there’s definitely an emphasis on contemporary art, but a few period pieces have been mixed in, revisiting the lengthy history of the UCL Slade.

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Doctor Manjula’s Prescription – A History of British Sign Language

Ashley Cowburn11 July 2013

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An early manuscript illustrating finger sign

When Thomas Tillsye and Ursula Russell married in Leicester in February 1575, Thomas made his wedding vows in sign. Unknowingly, they were presented with a timeless wedding present – their marriage became the first recorded description of sign use in British history.

In 2003, British Sign Language (BSL) was recognised by the British government as a full and independent language.

Today, there are an estimated 50,000 – 70,000 people in Britain who use BSL as their preferred language. And, like most sign language communities, BSL is a minority language. Deaf communities within Britain have experienced centuries of discrimination in their fight for recognition.

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Buried on Campus

Nick Dawe24 April 2012

UCL’s Grant Museum of Zoology has launched a new exhibition, Buried on Campus, exploring the surprising find of more than 7,000 bone fragments in the UCL quad.

In March 2010, unsuspecting construction workers, who were digging a trench to enter the Chadwick Building basement, discovered a huge array of bones. The find shocked many: who or what did the bones belong to? When were they buried? And why were they buried in the quad of all places?

Initially, the Metropolitan Police were called in to investigate, who then brought in UCL’s forensic anatomist Dr Wendy Birch for further advice. Through a thorough (and ongoing) investigation, Dr Birch found that the bones comprised 84 individual humans and a variety of animals and, presumably to the relief of many, there was no sign of foul play.

Later, a seven-day excavation of the area ultimately led to a massive 7,394 fragments being found, and Dr Birch and UCL forensic anthropologist Christine King are still working on reconstructing and analysing these.

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