Showing posts from November, 2008

News and Event - gangland soho lecture

News. I successfully completed my strange guided tour of the On Purpose exhibition. This was a commission by avante guarde designers Abake who asked me to do a guided tour of the Arnolfini On Purpose exhibition in Bristol. The twist was they wanted the tour to do done inLondon at the 'Wouldn't it be nice?' exhibition at the Embankment Gallery, Somerset House. If you are interested how it went please follow this link OnPurpose pdf I also gave a guided walk on archaeology of the City. During my researches I was happy to discover that archaeologists have now found evidence of early military ditches suggesting that London'sorigins are indeed military. Have a look at my blog for further comments on these ideas: Tuesday 2 December 2008, 7.30pm GANGLAND SOHO A TALK BY JAMES MORTON James Morton vividly portrays the crimes and criminals that have given Soho its infamous reputation. Behind the fashionable bars and clubs of Soho lies a fascin

Brunel Museum - opens Tunnel to view

The Brunel Museum has pulled off something of a triumph - opening up the Shaft to the Tunnel for public view - a really great piece of negotiations. I wrote to Richard Hulse the Director to offer him my congratulations. Richard was kind enough to remember that the idea for the expansion into the Shaft came about when I was running the Museum. But the idea is one thing the organisation of it into a reality quite another. Brunel Museum - Home Page

Public Health

I began writing an article on the Museum's Public Health Walks and update wikipedia in the process. Epidemiology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Garden Museum refurbished and renamed.

The Museum of Garden History has reopened with a new gallery providing more space, with new displays, new name and new £6 entrance fee. Garden Museum opens with newly pruned displays [17 November 2008]

London Fire Brigade Museum gets temporary reprieve

A temporary reprieve was given to the London Fire Brigade museum. It seems that the crass remarks made by Brian Coleman have united people in support of the Museum. His latest sally was to describe the Museum as shabby and not engaging with young people with interactivity. Southwark’s "shabby" London Fire Brigade Museum debated at City Hall [23 November 2008]

The Butcher's Shop at the Old Operating Theatre Museum

Here are some pictures of the editing event organised by Bad Idea at the Old Operating Theatre Museum. Idependent Review here. BAD IDEA magazine | The Butcher's Shop: Photos

BM embraces the Modern

I see the BM is trying to steal a little of the Tate Modern Thunder, with Antony Gormley and Ron Meurk exhibits.

Invention at the Old Operating Theatre Museum

We had 90 5 - 6 year old children to the Museum today to do a session based on invention. In the Museum they did medical invention and on a walk we looked at public health and other inventions based on Victorian London. One walk worked really well, but the second was made more difficult by need to find toilets that did not need 20p.

Babylon at the British Museum

Really enjoyable exhibition at the BM - enjoyed it much more than either Hadrian or Chinese Emperor. No longer in the Reading Room - I hope they are putting the reading room back to its proper use, the Exhibition is essentially an essay on the idea of Babylon. The narrative begins with Breughel's Tower of Babel and then shows star items from Babylon in the time of Nebucanassar and Belshazzar. Thereafter, the exhibition looks at the myth of Babylon interspersed with historical sections essentially based on the biblical stories of Daniel and the Writing on the Wall. There is a section of 'legacy' based on Babylonian science (use of base 60 and the Zodiac). At the end the exhibition comes right up to date with film clips such as Metropolis and Intolerance, and of the affect of the 2nd Gulf War on Babylon. There is a clip of an academic discussion a Rasta view of Babylon. In many ways it is quite light weight and non - threatening. The examination of ancient Babylon is

Roman London School walk

Following the success of my Archeology and the Origins of London walk for London Walks, I have revamped the walk I designed for schools based on Roman London. A pdf is available here:

'Londinium and Beyond' - Revealing Roman London – Birkbeck, University of London

Following discussion with Nick Bateman I purchased a copy of the feschrift for Harvey Sheldon which contains an article on London's population. 'Londinium and Beyond' - Revealing Roman London – Birkbeck, University of London

The Origins and Archaeology of London

Yesterday I gave an archaeology walk around London concentrating on the Origins of London. A lot to get into one walk and also I still had the myths and legends in my mind so a bit of that seeped in too. In the end only got to Guildhall and did not get to the intended end point which was St Aphage. Most interesting thing I discovered is that one of the summaries of excavations from Walbrook House suggests that MOLAS found a large fortified enclosure around a Roman conquest period military zone. These were evidenced by N-S v-shaped ditches one had late iron pottery in it. The report goes on to suggest this could be the boundary of the early City. Not sure which side of the Walbrook the site was . I emailed Nick Bateman about it and he tells me the date of the ditches are 43-50 AD so not necessarily 43 AD as the summary suggested, but it does seem to imply a defended early settlement on the Cornhill with its western boundary on the east bank of the Walbrook. I'd like to see a d

Black Death book published by Museum of London

The excavation of the East Smithfield cemetary has been published by the Museum of London. It reveals that burial was organised and not rushed although the finding of coins in pockets suggests the family and grave diggers were too afraid to go through the clothes of victims. Analysis of the burials shows that 40% are young people but there are few infants and hardly any old people. Men were more likely to be victims than women. Spread was probably human to human and not via rats - the report says. Click here for details

Wouldn't it be Nice Conceptual Tour part 4

To recap: I am describing my guided walk of the On Purpose Exhibition at the Arnolofini in Bristol which was given at the Wouldn't it be Nice Exhibition at The Embankment Galleries, London. The models in Jurgen Bey's piece had a parallel at the Arnolofini in Yuri Suzuki's piece Sound Chaser. So I described the little models as if they were train trucks which had a stylus on the bottom and they ran over tracks made of old vinyl. The story I gave out was the Suzuki wanted to return to the physicality of vinyl. His second piece at the Arnolofini was similar here users could (if they were very lucky to work out how the system worked) a bring a MP3 and engrave the sound onto a piece of plastic jewellery - viz a bracelet which could be played on a turntable. I asked my audience to split into two's, one of the pair to think of some wonderful music to give as a gift to their partner, and then to clap or click out the rhyme . This gave a pleasing noise. I then told t

On Purpose Conceptual Guided Tour part 3

Here, I continue the narrative of the Guided walk around the On Purpose Exhibition at the Arnolfini, which paradoxically, took place at the 'Wouldn't it be nice' exhibition at the Embankment Galleries. The next piece on my Arnolfini tour was Alex Rich's 'Things to Say. Rich used a series of workshops with children and explored the use of simple shapes to make up letters. At the Arnolfini the first words by Rich on the wall of the Exhibition spelt out 'Suki Yaki'. My insight into Rich's work was helped by an examination of 'Book Circle' the last piece in the Arnolfini exhibition, only 2 authors could be identified from this piece and one was Bruno Munari. I looked him up and found that the font Rich was using with the children was identical to Munari's font see above. Munari believed that progress is simplification and was trying to find the fewest shapes that were needed to make a fond. He thought only one font should be necessary fo

Embankment Galleries Conceptual Tour narrative Part two

In my previous post, I described the beginning of the tour of Arnolfini Exhibition 'On Purpose' which took place at the Embankment Gallery. After the start outside the Gallery we went into the Book Shop. This is where the Exhibition 'On Purpose' began, the Arnolfini shop sold magazine's Frieze and Venue, in each magazine was an advert for the Arnolfini Exhibition designed by Abake and Alex Rich. Abake's advert was a printout of a plan spreadsheet, Rich's was a flow chart. So I had planted a magazine 'Move or Improve' in the Shop - I had purchased the magazine earlier choosen because it was the tackiest 'design' magazine I could find. In it I placed my Asus EEE PC - I was trying to go one further than Abake - they used a printout of a Spreadsheet I used an actual spreadsheet on a computer. I suggested that ABAKE were given away a computer with each magazine so cheap were the EEE pcs. The only problem was that the computer froze and

Story of London festival June 2009

This is the web site coordinating the proposed festival based on the Story of London. Mayor of London - Story of London

Inventions Walk

We have a group of children coming to do an Inventions Day at the Old Operating Theatre museum - we are putting a session together on medical inventions and I'm thinking about the Guided Walk. First thoughts are: I, Guys Hospital - Statue of Hygia - intro to Hygiene 2. Guys Courtyard - Florence Nightingale, hospital design and hygiene 3. Victorian buildings at back of hospital talk about invention of the Flushing toilet and the good it did and the bad it did (spreading infected water into the water supply and causing cholera 4. George drinking beer and a little bit about inventions re traffic i.s stage coaches made travel to Manchester shrink form 4 days to 24 hours in the 18th Century 5. Hop Exchange hops in beer makes it preserve longer and therefore cheaper 6. market - maybe something on refrigeration 7. end at river - water supply, clean water, steam ships, invention of CPR etc.

Gift Aid Toolkit on CD

Gift Aid Toolkit on CD HM Revenue and Customs has published a CD toolkit on using Gift Aid to increase charity income. It includes basic guidance, templates, an interactive claim form and other materials. You can request the CD by phoning HMRC Charities on 08453 020 203 or emailing . (From Mla, London -newsletter)

Museums and Galleries Month killed off by MLA

The MLA has killed the Campaign for Museums and its Museum and Gallery month. Although I was never a great fan of the Month, it strikes me that this is yet another example of the arbitrary ways of the MLA. It decides something has run its course, it kills it. It just seems that museums have no voice with the MLA. MGM - Homepage

Scaffolding is finally down at the Old Operating Theatre Museum

At last the scaffolding is down outside the Old Operating Theatre! Almost time to celebrate except the building area is still there, and the toilets not yet fixed or the stairs painted. But we are nearly there!

Story Writing Competition at the Old Operating Theatre Museum

After a quick conversation with the organiser of the London Bridge Festival in July I see we are now doing a Story Writing Competition at the Old Operating Theatre Museum. The original idea was a story telling competition but maybe our cooperation with Bad Idea Magazine can be deployed to bring this about. London Bridge Festival : "Story Writing Competition"

Design Museum considers quitting Southwark for Commonwealth Institute

Its early days yet in the discussion but I think this would be a really good move (certainly for the Commonwealth Institute) although not much passing traffic in that area. Design Museum considers quitting Southwark for Commonwealth Institute [30 October 2008]

Embankment Galleries Conceptual Tour narrative

This is the narrative of the On Purpose Walk I did most of the preparation for the Walk on Friday night and Saturday morning although I had been thinking about it since my visit to the Arnolfini Last weekend. To recap on the idea - two design exhibitions, held in art galleries are twinned partly because of the participation of Abake. Benjamin, from Abake asked me to do a tour of the Somerset House 'Wouldn't it be nice' exhibition, but to talk about the 'On Purpose' Exhibition happening at the Arnolfini, Bristol. The idea being that another person would do the opposite at the same time. 'The experience will be disorienting' said Benjamin. The first task I set myself was to get to know the On Purpose Exhibition well enough to do a tour of it and to have a good mental picture of the exhibition and design issues behind the exhibition. Having been to Bristol, and met my doubleganger, I became convinced that I did not want to know anything about the Somerse

Somerset House Embankment Galleries Conceptual Tour

I have just got home from giving my Somerset House Embankment Galleries Conceptual Tour - went quite well and there is a lot to thing about - I'll be posting some thoughts in next few days - initial thoughts are that 1 I managed to keep to the sequence as dictated by the Arnolfini Exhibition and did not pick and choose my objects - there was a one to one mapping between the two tours. 2. Perhaps it became more satirical than I intended due to panic on my part. .