Monday, May 7, 2012

Glass Sea Creatures! Blood Transfusions! Lord Whimsy's Mysterious River Journeys! This Week and Next at Observatory

This week and next at Observatory! Hope to see you there.
Blaschka: Glass creatures of the Ocean – An Illustrated History of The Natural History Museum (NHM), London Collection
 Illustrated lecture with Miranda Lowe, The Natural History Museum (NHM), London Curator
Date: Thursday, May 10
Time: 8:00
Admission: $8

Presented by Morbid Anatomy
Although more famously know for the making the glass flowers exhibited at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the father and son partnership of Leopold (1822-1895) and Rudolf (1857-1939) Blaschka also made numerous marine invertebrate glass models. Some of the first models they made were sea anemones in the early 1860’s. The Natural History Museum (NHM), London purchased their first set around 1865 and holds over 185 Blaschka glass models consisting of anemones, sea slugs, jellyfish, octopus, squid, protozoans and corals representing their entire model making career. The models were made in a variety ways with many formed over wire skeletons (known as armatures) with the glass fused together or glued. Profiled in various scientific sales catalogues such as Henry A. Ward’s they were to sold museums, universities and private collectors by the Blaschkas themselves and various agents who worked on their behalf worldwide. In the past these models were of scientific importance in teaching but as trends change their significance as works of art are also being highlighted. Each glass model is a unique blend of art, science and craftsmanship looking more life-like than real specimens whose natural colours may fade when stored in jars of preservation fluid over time. This highly illustrated lecture will give a fascinating insight to this collection housed at one of the major natural history museums in the world.
Miranda Lowe is the Collections Manager of the Marine Invertebrates Division, Zoology Department, The Natural History Museum (NHM), London. Within Zoology Miranda specifically manages the Crustacea collections as well as the team of curators responsible for the Invertebrate collections. Darwin barnacles and the Blaschka marine invertebrate glass models are amongst some of the historical collections that are her interests and under her care. In 2006, she was part of the organising committee and invited speaker at the 1st international Blaschka congress held in Dublin. Miranda collaborated with the National Glass Centre, Sunderland, UK in 2008 to exhibit some of the Museum’s Blaschka collection alongside contemporary Blaschka inspired art. She also has an interest in photography, natural history - past and present serving on a number of committees including the Society for the History of Natural History (SHNH) and the Natural Sciences Association (NatSCA).
Image: © The Natural History Museum, London 2012. All Rights Reserved.
L0000096 A early blood transfusion from lamb to man
A Most Unexpected History of Blood Transfusion (1660 - 1820s)
Illustrated lecture with Paul Craddock
Date: Monday, May 14
Time: 8:00
Admission: $5

Presented by Morbid Anatomy
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.
On one last note: Paul Craddock commissioned a medical instrument maker to produce some early nineteenth century transfusion equipment. He hopes to demonstrate them at work if he can get them past customs!
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 a brief time 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 around the UK and Europe, and last year he spoke at the Observatory Gallery on skin grafting. Currently based in London, Paul is the Director of London Consortium Television, the audio-visual arm of the London Consortium (  He is also the Guests' Secretary for the University of London's Extra Mural Literature Association.  In another professional life, he produces films for medical establishments and museum exhibitions.

Image: An early blood transfusion from lamb to man, ca 1705. From "Tryals Proposed by Mr. Boyle to Dr. Lower, to be Made by Him, for the Improvement of Transfusing Blood out of One Live Animal into Another," Mr. Boyle

The Hidden River Expedition: A Re-Exploration of the Post-industrial Wilderness along Philadelphia's Rivers
An Illustrated Lecture and Film Screening with Allen Crawford (aka Lord Whimsy)
Date: Friday, May 18
Time: 8:00
Admission: $5
Presented by Morbid Anatomy
In August of 2011, Allen Crawford (aka Lord Whimsy) left his house to embark on a three-day, forty-mile solo kayak trek from Mount Holly, NJ to Bartram's Garden, in West Philadelphia. This May 18th, Crawford will present a video using footage shot from his kayak during this trek. He will also give a slideshow presentation, highlighting the strange history along these rivers he traversed: fugitive slave enclaves, floating churches, Civil-War era submarines, and derelict aircraft carriers all await you. This expedition was a re-exploration of Philadelphia's landscape, and an investigation of how its built and grown environments have affected each other over time. This landscape is not pristine, but it is wild--and perhaps most important, it's new. The "local frontier" exists!
Lord Breaulove Swells Whimsy (a.k.a. Victor Allen Crawford III), After twenty long years, has at last achieved his dream: unemployability. He is an artist, designer, author, re-explorer, failed dandy, tin grandee, gentleman trespasser, bushwhacking aesthete, parenthetical naturalist, pseudo-intellectual, and a middle-aged dilettante. Having taken a solemn vow to do as little in life as possible, Whimsy was dismayed one morning to discover that he had accidentally wrote, designed, and illustrated The Affected Provincial’s Companion, Volume One (Bloomsbury 2006), which has been optioned for film by Johnny Depp’s production company, Infinitum Nihil. His face and his words have graced the hallowed pages of The New York Times, Interview, Frieze, Vice, Tin House, and Art in America. He and his wife are proprietors of the design and illustration studio Plankton Art Co. Their most notable project to date is the collection of 400 species identification illustrations that are on permanent display at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Ocean Life. A devoted enthusiast, lower-case adventurer, and explorer of what he calls “the local frontier,” Whimsy spends most of his time among the nooks and margins of the forgotten, the curious, and the speculative that is found beneath, around, and between the everyday. He smells like gusto.
More on all events can be found here.

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