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Showing posts from November, 2007

The Old Operating Theatre Museum 'a model of what museums are all about'

The following quote appeared on the Museums And Heritage Show web site: "The Old Operating Theatre Winner, PROJECT ON A LIMITED BUDGET 2007, for 'Tales from the Crypt' Grabbing the judges’ attention, the winner in this category was felt to be a model of what museums are all about – pulling together, against the odds, to ensure that obstacles and challenges were overcome. A particularly cheering initiative the judges were delighted to learn that it had resulted in a bright future for the museum."

New discoveries in Roman London

I had a chat to Frances Grew of the Museum of London while filming a short film on Boudicca and he was able to give me better context about some recent discoveries. Firstly, the St Martins in the Field burials (see earlier in the blog). The burials recently excavated are not new - it was known a cemetary was here, but previous finds were Saxon, and the Roman sacophagi found were thought to be reused. The recent discover of the burial from about 410AD shows that the cemetary probably goes back to the Roman period, and the discovery of finds dating to AD500 suggests there is no gap in the use of the cemetary (a 90 year gap in fact but this may just be because of lack of dateable objects). We discussed the implications of this - it means the end of the model of Roman London whereby there is a clear break between Londinium and Lundenwic. Now it suggests the continuity is based around St Martins - there are early saxon finds dating to c 500 in St Martin's Lane, so it might seem that

Filming Boudicca

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Today I filmed a short section of a documentary about the Boudiccan revolt in the Museum of London and another scene outside by the Roman Wall in Fore Street. It is hoped it will appear on Channel 4. Battlefield Britain - Boudicca's Rebellion Against The Romans archaeology

Great Court at British Museum getting cluttered

The Great Court at the British Museum is getting very cluttered - the beautiful space created by the Norman Foster millennium project is getting ruined by the curatorial, marketing and ticketing staff wanting to get their hands on it. It is beginning to look a mess.

Siberian Architects Meeting

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I arranged a meeting at Central Saint Martins for a group from the Architectural Department Siberian Federal University and South Federal University – Russian Federation. They are from Krasnoyarsk in Siberia (click here for more details of the university ). The photos of the town and region suggested a lovely location with a town with some very attractive buildings. The architectural practice seemed of the traditional kind abandoned in Britain but with strengths that might well be valuble - their students are taught to draw - they do life classes throughout their architectural career and have a thorough grounding in drawing, draftsmanship and technical drawing. They showed drawings of Mercury, and Palladian villas as well as Russian style concrete utopias. This was in contrast to the British way of teaching which is much more conceptually based - seems they is lots for each side to learn.

Animatronic statue comes to Bankside [20 November 2007]

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A statue that mimics the poses of passers by has been opened in Bankside Animatronic statue comes to Bankside [20 November 2007] ICT

Virtual tour of 10 Downing Street

This is a virtual tour of Parliament using 360 degree panoramas - quite effective but very ugly! Virtual tour of 10 Downing Street ICT

Talking Pens

The Stephens Collection have used talking pens to provide audio guides for museums- you touch a spot with the pen and the pen does the narration either via earphones or though its onpen loudspeakers so that a group can hear the narration, the Stephens Collection ,Avenue House, East End Road, London, N3 3QE (Finchley Central Tube ). Open 2pm-4.30pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. http://www.mantralingua.com/product.php?productid=16135&cat=0&page=3

Rotherhithe Riverside London Walk

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I gave a walk for a group of Siberian Architects, through Rotherhithe to Tower Bridge - its an amazing route for showing the changing development of the River front from the medieval period onwards. The Route was: Rotherhithe Tube Council Housing, Tunnel Ventilators, and Gasometers on Salter Road Surrey Docks Ship Building and Breaker (Fighting Temeraire) Riverside walk back towards centre of Rotherhithe Charles Hays Barge Builders 1769. Early Council Blocks, Rotherhithe Tunnel Wharf Thames Tunel, Marc Brunel Brunel Museum, Rotherhithe Grice's Wharf Mayflower Inn St Mary's Rotherhithe Watchhouse and Charity School. Prince Lee Boo (Graveyard) Hope Sufferance Wharf Angel Inn Edward III manor house Dr Salter Surrey Sluice Bevington Street Cherry Gardens Chambers Wharf Jacobs Island St Saviours Dock Design Museum Spice Wharfs Butlers Wharf Tower Bridge More London

A Sort of Fame?

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Went to see the Animated Adventures exhibition at the Woking Lightbox. I had a very little bit to do with the exhibition in that I lent them a school 'fanzine' (although the term was not invented in those days that we had produced called Tasty Strait. David Sproxton and Peter Lord were part of the editorial team and it contained various cartoons by Peter Lord, I lent the magazine to the Light Box, and a photograph of the Editorial team (Dave Alexander (him), Mike Wilkinson, Alan Smart, as well as PL DS and me) inscribed with our names except I'd signed it 'ME!' So, notwithstanding being part of the exhibition, its quite strange to see a picture of yourself label ME! in an exhibition. The Exhibition was very much kids orientated, and 'our' part of it was the photo, a table of exam results for form 5A and a copy of the official school magazine 'The Wokinginian' all mounted on a desk and chair of the type we certainly did not have at Woking Grammar. W

Bad Archaeology: leave your common sense behind!

Following the success of Bad Science at debunking lunatic schemes a new web site Bad Archaeology attempts to shoot down those who leave their rational mind behind when looking at the past. Bad Archaeology: leave your common sense behind!

Petition to Save the Textile Conservation Centre

Southampton University are to close the textile conservation centre in Winchester. As the only one of its kind this will be a trajedy. 10 Downing Street website - Petitions - Search Results

C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la gare - St Pancras Revived

Simon Jenkins has written an excellent piece of the survival of St Pancras despite all those who wanted to pull the magnificent Victorian Gothic pile down. His piece can be followed below. However, the building work was not without some cost to the Heritage - personally I miss the long row of arches that were destroyed along Goodsway. I am, as a London driver, exstatic that Goodsway is finally reopened. Not just a building, but a joy to behold. Ken Livingstone must hate St Pancras | Columnists | Guardian Unlimited : "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la gare"

A presence on Facebook

I received a request to be a facebook friend of an ex-student today and followed the link to discover I have a facebook presence and 5 people waiting to sign me up as a friend! Ok 2 of them I have never heard of but even so it was a surprise I even had a Facebook account let alone any Facebook friends! I must have signed up one time I wanted to look to see what facebook was all about and found you could not get into it without signing up.

St Thomas Graveyards

The Graveyards of St Thomas hospital are pinpointed in 'Aspects of medieval and later Southwark' MOLAS monograph 13 (2002) Originally, the dead were buried in the graveyards of St Mary Overie and St Margarets, eventually St Thomas could bury its own but compensated the other churches for loss of income. In the minutes of 1697 3 burial places are known. The first was associated with the Dorter, and is thought to be on the north side of St Thomas St (Tryvet St originally) near the Church, the second was to the south of St Thomas Street but west of the Guys Site, and the third was at the junction of St Thomas St and Maze pond to the East of the Guys site. However, 227 skeletons were found on another site which was excavated in 1990 under New London Bridge House by London Bridge Station. Many of these skeletons were were marked with suffering from syphilis. 2 wells were found near Joiner Street at the eastern end of the hospital but in the public domain so it might be an at

After that contemporary, uncluttered museum look?

In Museum Practice Autumn 2007 Mark Dion is quoted 'I've seen museums spend millions of pounds and wind up less interesting places than when they started.' This echos my underlying philosophy at the Old Operating Theatre museum 'Don't f*** it up, stupid!' Mark Dion creates installations based on museums organisation of objects. Mark Dion

Online Exhibition - London at night photos

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This is simple attempt to see if automatic software can be useful for creating on-line exhibitions. It is a relatively trival attempt with pictures taken by my Treo mobile phone, and the software does not allow many images but at least it does provide an attempt at creating a narrative space. Make a slide show, scrapbook or ecard ict

Space Browse: Photo-sites

Interesting a very simple idea for click through photo sites - nicely simple although the orange squares are rather ugly. Space Browse: What it's about - white paper

London Brownfield Cycle Ride

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I created a great new cycle (bike) ride. London Brownfield Cycle Ride It takes about 5 hours but very easy cycling. It is a circular tour of East London and can be started anywhere on the circle. It is amazing tour of the Brownfield sites of London and takes in the Big Blue Olympic perimeter wall and the Millenium Pernisula. The route. Lee Valley Regents Canal Greenway Beckton Alps Royal Albert Docks Woolwich Ferry Millenium Penisular O2 Greenwich Greenwich Foot Tunnel Island Gardens Thames at Canary Wharf Limehouse Basin Regents Canal End at Broadway Market, Hackney London Brownfield Cycle Ride

Experimenting with virtual space exhibitions using SmileBox (Ok its my holiday snaps really)

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Make a slide show, scrapbook or ecard

The Attic:

The Attic - blog for the Museum Studies Research Students University of Leicester The Attic: CFP: London Journal of Tourism, Sport & Creative Industries

Evoke - illuminating York

A great project to illuminate the front of York Minister with coloured lights - the patterns of which vary according to the voices of the people watching. Evoke

Blogging - is it worthwhile? Do Web metrics have the answer?

Further to my April post about the usefulness of blogging in the Museum and Heritage World, I have been looking at my web metrics to see if they have an answer. The first thing is the number of visitors has considerably risen. This seem good although this mostly depends upon the number of posts I add. So, by adding material I increase the number of people who pick up the site from the search engines. But this is an index of activity not usefulness. Looking at the search keywords certainly suggests that the content in my blog would be useful to searchers on the basis of their search keyword. Yet, mostly they are searches of a type you might do occasionally - for example I mention a meeting in a particular pub - someone searches for the pub and finds the details on the blog. Useful for them as the pub has no web site, but highly unlikely that they will ever visit my site again. (I seem to be the main resting home for people searching for Biddles Brothers pub in Clapton!) Pag

Defending Britain - Book review

I've skimmed through Mike Osborne's defending Britain book sub-titled 'Twentieth Century Military Structures in the Landscape' (2004, Tempus Publishing). It is a very dense typology of military building types - very good as a text book if researching a particular pill-box, but it really does not give a very good overview of World War 2 defensive tactics - which is what I wanted it for. What I want is a detailed analysis of placement of pillboxes on the ground, and the thinking behind that placement. It shows the problems of buying over the Internet sight unseen.

Mortality in London - Poverty makes no difference

A recent study published in the London Journal has produced some surprising results. Among the most surprising conclusion is: 'There appears to have been a minimal social class gradient in infant, child and adult mortality in London during the period 1550 - 1850.' This is the opposite conclusion to that which is commonly believed. In addition they found that infant and child mortality more than doubled between the 18th and the 18th century - i.e. child mortality was quite low during the 16th and 17th Centuries. In peaked in the mid 18th Century during which time more than 2/3rd of all children dying by their fifth birthday. Note this is irrespective of wealth of the parents!. (there was no corresponding increase in adult mortality in this period) From the middle of the 18th Century mortality fell so that by 1850 'only' about 30% died by the age of 5. The study also shows that the end of the plague made no difference to rates of mortality suggesting other dise

Seduced: Art and Sex from Antiquity to Now

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Went to the Seduced Show at the Barbican on level 3 at the Barbican. Maybe I'm jaded but I found it a little dull - I've seen examples of the various genre they display and so found I came out without learning anything new, or experiencing anything exciting. I think I'd get more out of the book. Maybe if you have never seen sexual imagery from Pompeii, Indian, Japan or Victorian pornography then it would be really exciting, but otherwise I thought the narrative was thin, giving no real insight into development of sexual imagery, or context. Surrealism was the only movement that was examined in any detail. Although there were a couple of Fragonards and a Boucher or two a tour of the Wallace Collection would give a better insight into Sex and Art from the Renaissance - 19th Century. The modern stuff was mostly not very interesting to me - and when I think that Jeff Koon seemed like a highlight,I wonder about the overall quality. My summary would be that this is a great

The appendix does have a use - re-booting the gut

A theory as to what the Appendix is for has been suggested. After illness has killed off the good bacteria in the stomach it needs reintroduction. Nowadays we get this from our friends and neighbours, but when populations were low, and an epidemic killed all friends and neighbours, the appendix would reintroduce the helpful bacteria to the stomach, helping survivors survive. The appendix does have a use - re-booting the gut - Independent Online Edition > Health

Amateur stargazers map a 'lopsided' universe - Telegraph

Using the combined might of the observations of amateur astronomers, scientists have descovered that most galaxies rotate anti-clockwise. This is important as it suggests a lopsided universe - or alternatively an unknown force acting on the universe. All part of the open source, participatory world we know find ourselves when mass action pays dividends. Amateur stargazers map a 'lopsided' universe - Telegraph

Inside Silbury Hill

Recently, archaeologists have reentered Silbury Hill as part of the works to stabilise it following the poor reconstruction work following the BBC excavations in the 1960's and other earlier mining operations. Katy Whitaker reported to members of an archaeological mailing list: 'It was truly truly amazing. On a cool, clear autumnal Wiltshire evening I found myself with seven others walking into Silbury Hill, where in truth no-one should ever have gone, and being blown away by the beautiful stratigraphy. Between them the Duke of Northumberland, Dean Merryweather and Professor Atkinson had butchered the small gravel mound of Silbury I, but there's enough of its following turf layers to get good C14 dates and soil/mineral analysis to look into the origin of this material. I so love the idea of people bringing turves from around and about - perhaps quite far afield - and placing them on the mound. Atkinson backfilled only the third of the tunnel nearest the entrance - and th

Earliest evidence of modern human behaviour

Salon IFA ( *** SALON 174: 22 October 2007 *** ) reports: 'South Africa: origin of Homo sapiens? In the 18 October issue of the journal Nature , an international team of researchers at Arizona State University have said that, in default of any other sites that can demonstrate earlier evidence of human behaviour, then Cave 13B at Pinnacle Point in South Africa has the best claim to being the birthplace of the human species. Palaeo-anthropologist Curtis Marean, co-author of the report, says that the evidence from Cave 13B – which includes ochre lumps with scrape marks, indicating the use of the red pigment in symbolic behaviour, along with complex bladelet tools and food harvested from the sea – all dates from 164,000 years ago and is thus the earliest dated observation of human behaviour.' Salon Editor: Christopher Catling Making the paperCurtis Marean : Article : Nature

Excavation of Rome's legendary King Numa Pompilius'

Italian archaeologists have discovered an early temple in Rome dating to the time, according to Plutarch, when Romulus was succeeded by Numa Pompilius First evidence from Rome's legendary second king Numa Pompilius' era unearthed @ NewKerala.Com News Channel

The Hooke Folio on display by internet

Roberts Hooke’s minutes of the Royal Society have now been made available on the internet - see below. The minutes were recently discovered in a cupboard in Hampshire, and put up for auction. They can be seen here: The Hooke Folio

Distinctiveness and Cities

Very interesting report which suggests that planners should reject bland off the shelf architecture with innovative designs that work with the grain of the idiosyncrasies of the Town. Also contains interesting quotation fro Graeme Evans which suggests that the craze for Iconic buildings leads to 'karaoke architecture' - i.e. nevermind the quality of the architecture its the verve of the statement that counts. downloadable pdf can be found here: The Work Foundation - Ideopolis: Knowledge City-Regions - Distinctiveness and Cities narrative environments

Neanderthals 'were flame-haired'

Well, DNA has shown that some neanderthals were red-haired rather than all. Good mental image though! BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Neanderthals 'were flame-haired'