Thursday, September 20, 2012

Blood Transfusions, Music as Disease, Extreme Taxidermy, Oscillating Beams, Plastic Surgery and Anthropomorphic Mouse Taxidermy Workshops: Morbid Anatomy Presents at London's Last Tuesday Society

I am very excited (and also slightly saddened) to announce the lineup for the final two weeks of programming of Morbid Anatomy Presents series at London's Last Tuesday Society.

Tonight--Thursday September 20th--please join us as veritable-force-of-nature Paul Craddock regales us with "A Most Unexpected History of Blood Transfusion." Next week, on Tuesday the 25th, we will host Wellcome Trust Research Fellow Dr. James Kennaway for "Bad Vibrations: The History of the idea of Music as a Disease." The following night Pat Morris--Observatory favorite and author of the book on anthropomorphic taxidermist Walter Potter--will be lecturing on "extreme" (read: human and monumental) taxidermy. The next night, Strange Attractor's Mark Pilkington will tell the tale of "Royal Raymond Rife and his Oscillating Beam Ray." On Sunday the 30th, wax artist and good friend Eleanor Crook will discuss plastic surgery of the world wars, and, finally, we have Sue Jeiven with her über-popular anthropomorphic taxidermy classes on the afternoons of Thursday the 27,  Saturday the 29th, and Sunday the 30th.

Come for the events, and linger around following to sip some lovely Hendricks Gin and peruse the current exhibition "Ecstatic Raptures and Immaculate Corpses: Visions of Death Made Beautiful in Italy" --featuring my own photographs and waxworks by artist Eleanor Crook and Sigrid Sarda--on view through the end of the month.

More on all events below; and please note: all events will take place at The Last Tuesday Society, 11 Mare Street, London, E8 4RP (map here). Hope to see you at one or more of these terrific events!
TONIGHT Thursday the 20th September 2012
Paul Craddock on "A Most Unexpected History of Blood Transfusion"
Doors at 6 pm, Show commences at 7 pm
Those living in Britain (who owned a television set) about ten years ago might remember Sean Bean before he became a famous movie star. Apart from his appearance in Sharpe, he starred in a television advertisement for the National Blood Foundation, prompting people in his thick Yorkshire accent to ‘do something amazing today’; ’save a life’ by giving blood. The foundation’s message is still the same, though Sean Bean has moved onto other projects such as Lord of the Rings. In any case, this illustrated lecture is about just that: the transfusion of blood and its many meanings. But it focuses on a much earlier (and stranger) period of transfusion history when saving a life was only one reason to transfuse blood - from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth.

The association between blood and life is a very easy one to make and seems to span all cultures and time periods, as does the very idea of swapping blood from one person to another. But what it means to swap one being’s blood with another’s - and why this might be attempted - has radically changed. It is only very recently, (around the turn of the twentieth century), that blood was transfused in order to purposefully replace lost blood. For the majority of this history, this was most certainly not the case. In the seventeenth century, transfusions of lamb’s blood were made to calm mad patients and, in the nineteenth century, blood was transfused in order to restore a portion of an invisible living principle living inside of it. This lecture explores from where these ideas came and the ways in which bits of them might linger in our own ideas of transfusion.

Paul Craddock is currently writing on pre-20th century transplant surgery and transfusion at the London Consortium working under Prof. Steven Connor (University of London) and Prof. Holly Tucker (Vanderbilt University, Nashville). After four years studying music and performing arts, living in rural China, and working for the National Health Service, Paul made the switch to cultural and medical history. He has never had a transplant and never received a transfusion - his interest in these procedures come from thinking about generally how we relate to the material world by making bodily transactions. He has lectured in the UK, Europe, and the USA

Tuesday the 25th September 2012
Bad Vibrations: The History of the idea of Music as a Disease with Dr James Kennaway
Doors at 6 pm, Show commences at 7 pm

Despite most people believing music to have beneficial and even healing properties, Dr Kennaway's research shows a darker side to the art. For the last two hundred years many doctors, critics, and writers have suggested that certain kinds of music have the power to cause neurosis, madness, hysteria, and even death. Dr Kennaway explores the claims: is it true that Wagner's compositions make listeners feel homosexual urges? Was Patty Hearst really brainwashed into robbing banks by loud rock music? And does the US Army really play Metallica's 'Enter Sandman' as a form of torture?

Dr James Kennaway is a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at the Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease at Durham University. He studied at LSE and the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine before completing a Master's at King's College, London and a PhD at UCLA in 2004. Since then he has worked at the University of Vienna, Stanford University and the Viadrina University in Frankfurt-an-der-Oder, Germany. In January 2009 he began a Wellcome Research Fellowship at the University of Durham.

Wednesday the 26th September 2012
EXTREME TAXIDERMY - Elephants and Humans With Dr. Pat Morris

Doors at 6 pm, Show commences at 7 pm
After his highly acclaimed general lectures on the history of taxidermy Pat Morris will return to talk in more detail about two areas of special interest. Preserving a full-sized elephant represents the 'Mount Everest' of taxidermy. It is a challenge not only to the taxidermist's artistry (in attempting to make an accurate representation of the living animal) but it is also a serious engineering problem to handle such a large and heavy item. Taxidermy methods can be applied to humans, but our species is rarely preserved in this way and very few 'stuffed' humans exist. Even the suggestion that people might be preserved like this is abhorrent to many, and the results of attempting the task can cause extreme controversy. Come and hear more and perhaps debate some of the ethical issues that arise".
Dr. Pat Morris is a retired staff member of Royal Holloway College (University of London), where he taught biology undergraduates and supervised research on mammal ecology. In that capacity he has published many books and scientific papers and featured regularly in radio and TV broadcasts. The history of taxidermy has been a lifelong hobby interest and he has published academic papers and several books on the subject. With his wife Mary he has travelled widely, including most of Europe and the USA, seeking interesting taxidermy specimens and stories. They live in England where their house is home to the largest collection and archive of
historical taxidermy in Britain.
Thursday the 27th September 2012
Mark Pilkington on "Royal Raymond Rife and his Oscillating Beam Ray"
Doors at 6 pm, Show commences at 7 pm
In the early 1930s, Dr Royal Raymond Rife, an American optics engineer, claimed to be achieving theoretically impossible optical magnifications of over 30,000 times - 10 times more powerful than today's best microscopes.
Soon after, Rife announced that he could destroy bacteria by blasting them with electromagnetic waves oscillating at frequencies specific to each target organism. According to his supporters, Rife cured significant numbers of people infected with a number of common but dangerous infections, including typhoid, salmonella and influenza. But his most controversial claim was that his device could kill the virus-like organisms, which he dubbed "BX", responsible for cancer. Rife and his team claimed to have cured 15 "hopeless" cancer patients after 60 days' treatment.
Rife's ray tube system was installed in several clinics and his results were corroborated by numerous scientists and doctors. In 1939 he was invited to address the Royal Society of Medicine, which had also approved his findings, and he subsequently formed the Rife Ray Beam Tube Corporation, to build models for hospitals and clinics.
But with the death of one of his key supporters, Rife found himself under sudden and prolonged assault from the American Medical Association, who banned use of his beam ray to treat patients. Within a year the dream was over, Rife a broken man. To this day it remains unclear why the AMA turned on Rife, a pharmaceutical conspiracy being an obvious, if paranoid conclusion.
Mark Pilkington is a writer, publisher, curator and musician with particular interest in the fringes of knowledge, culture and belief. Mark runs Strange Attractor Press and his writing has also been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including The Anomalist, Fortean Times, Frieze, Sight & Sound, The Wire, the Time Out Book of London Walks Vol.2 and London Noir.
Sunday the 30th September 2012
Eleanor Crook on Plastic Surgery of the World Wars

Doors at 6 pm, Workshop commences at 7 pm
The rifles used in the First World War fired low-velocity bullets that were sufficient to cause tissue damage, splinter bone, and tear away flesh, but unlike high-velocity bullets, would not cause the energy waves that result in instant
death. As a result many young men survived the war with appalling facial injuries.

Independently, surgeons in France (Morestin), England (Gillies), and Germany (Esser), began to develop techniques and procedures to reconstruct the face. These included methods of moving skin and tissue from one place to another and replacing and building up tissue where it had been lost or damaged. The repair and reconstruction of damaged tissue was also applied to limb injuries and burns.

During the Second World War, Harold Gillies and Archibald McIndoe established a specialized plastic surgery unit at East Grinstead Hospital, to treat injured servicemen and civilians. Their work on the faces and hands of burnt airmen marked a significant advance in medicine that was accompanied by other enormous advances, such as the ability to transplant the cornea and restore sight. The so-called ‘Guinea Pig Club’ still exists today, and a dwindling number of surviving Royal Air Force pilots attest to the remarkable skills of these early pioneers.

Eleanor Crook trained in sculpture at Central St Martins and the Royal Academy and makes figures and effigies in wax, carved wood and lifelike media. She has also made a special study of anatomy and has sculpted anatomical and pathological waxworks for the Gordon Museum of Pathology at Guy's Hospital, London's Science Museum, and the Royal College of Surgeons of England. She exhibits internationally in both fine art and science museum contexts. She learned the technique of forensic facial reconstruction modelling from Richard Neave and has demonstrated and taught this to artists, forensic anthropology students, law enforcement officers and plastic surgeons as well as incorporating this practice in her own sculpted people. Eleanor is artist in residence at the Gordon Museum of Pathology, a member of the Medical Artists' Association, runs a course in Anatomy drawing at the Royal College of Art and lectures on the M. A. Art & Science course at Central St Martins School of Art in London.
Thursday 27th (just added), Saturday 29th, and Sunday 30th of September
Anthropomorphic Taxidermy Class with Sue Jeiven
1-5 PM

Anthropomorphic taxidermy–the practice of mounting and displaying taxidermied animals as if they were humans or engaged in human activities–was a popular art form during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The best known practitioner of the art form is British taxidermist Walter Potter who displayed his pieces–which included such elaborate tableaux as The Death of Cock Robin, The Kitten Wedding, and The Kitten Tea Party–in his own museum of curiosities.

We invite you to join taxidermist, tattoo artist and educator Susan Jeiven for a beginners class in anthropomorphic taxidermy. All materials–including a mouse for each student–will be provided, and each class member will leave at the end of the day with their own anthropomorphic taxidermied mouse. Students are invited to bring any miniature items with which they might like to dress or decorate their new friend; some props and miniature clothing will also be provided by the teacher. A wide variety of sizes and colors of mice will be available.

No former taxidermy experience is required.

Also, some technical notes:
• We use NO harsh or dangerous chemicals.
• Everyone will be provided with gloves.
• All animals are disease free.
• Although there will not be a lot of blood or gore, a strong constitution is necessary; taxidermy is not for everyone.
• All animals were already dead, nothing was killed for this class. All mice used are feeder animals for snakes and lizards and would literally be discarded if not sold.
• Please do not bring any dead animals with you to the class
You can find out more--and order tickets--for all events, click here.

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