@MarDixon Passionate about culture internationally. Run remixing events, workshops, create solutions, and an international speaker. Over sharer and Mom who loses arguments to a teen. Projects created: @CultureThemes @lovetheatreday @AskaCurator @MuseumSelfieDay @TeensInMuseums @52museums
  • Review: Smoke and Mirrors #WellcomeMagic & Misbehaving Bodies #MisbehavingBodies @ExploreWellcome

    June 21st, 2019mardixonCulture

    There are currently exhibitions running at Wellcome Collection which I was able to see on different days

    Smoke and Mirrors The Psychology of Magic on from 11 April 2019—15 September 2019

    I popped into this exhibition on my way to the train station and was so glad I did! It’s a fabulous exhibition that researches the history dating back to the 19th century on human psychology that is used with magicians. 

    As soon as you walk into the exhibition there is a dark playfulness that hits you.  Maybe it’s the large Carter The Great Banner or the variety of unique objects such a Wheatstone’s portable ABC Telegraph from 1858 (to send telegraphs to the deceased) or a homemade Ouija board.

    The first room was centered around The Medium which seems to have started during the late 19th and early 20th centuries when war and disease caused a lot of deaths.  Mediums seems to have started during the late 19th and early 20thcenturies when war and disease caused a lot of deaths.  Many people started to believe other people could communicate with the dead and this was exploited by a lot of people (mainly trying to make a quick buck or two).  

    In about 1882 the ‘disciplines and institutions of modern science’ was created called the Society for Psychical Research which was the first organization to research what was happening in séance rooms. 

    It was almost like cat vs mouse but the exhibition doesn’t really say who the cat was and who the mice were – that is up to the visitor. 

    For example, there were examples of Spirit photographs and a camera that would have ‘ghostly’ appearances on the photographs

    Rapping Hands – a life-size version of a hand that would tap once for yes, two for no and three for unsure

    Next to a Haunting and poltergeist investigation toolkit (1920s-60s) which belonged a member of the Society for Psychical Research.  The kit included luminous pins, a compass, bulbs, a weighing measure and of course a notebook.

    And Illustrations from Pearon’s Magazine in 1910 which commissioned magician William Marriott to write a series of articles investigating mediumistic fraud.

    Next section was ‘Misdirection’ – how a magician draws attention to one thing to ensure we miss the other thing they are doing.  Could be by making the audience relax or guiding us to look in the wrong place.  ‘Psychologists study the art of misdirection to help understand how we perceive and process our daily experiences’

    There were a few videos with this section which I didn’t get to view as they were being viewed by others.

    The last section was on Mentalism – when the magician includes mind reading and mind control stunts.  Some use illusion and ticks while others use psychological ‘tells’.

    And no magic exhibition would be good without the sawing cabinet!  This one was used by British magician Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee.

    There was a bit more covered in this exhibition (esp, etc) but I didn’t get enough information to properly share but as you can see, there is so much to see and digest with this exhibition that I’ll be going back!


    Misbehaving Bodies: Jo Spence and Oreet Ashery on from 30 May 2019—26 January 2020

    Hands up, I didn’t really like Misbehaving Bodies as much as Smoke and Mirrors – but that’s allowed!  I appreciate the conceptwhich is about photographer Jo Spence‘s self-documentation of her breast cancer journey through the 1980s.  She was very honest and open and it was poignant about how her body was misbehaving and not for the first time in her life. Sadly she passed away from cancer in 1992.

    I went with an artist friend who absolutely LOVED this exhibition, to the point where I had to leave to go to the café to wait for her.  She appreciated every video, journal and label the exhibition had, and to be honest the only reason we went was because she recommended it.  

    A quote from artist friend Jo Stanton-Brown:

    For me Jo Spence’s art reminds me of journalistic war photography. The recording of her personal war between body, disease and the depersonalization of being a patient.  This exhibition is a brilliant resource for people struggling with similar issues.

    I must emphasis that I didn’t hate it – it just wasn’t for me.  Did I appreciate Jo Spence journey? Absolutely.  Did I appreciate how hard and painful it must have been for her to document?  Yes!  It may have been a bit too honest and raw for me.  Or maybe it was too linear.

    The exhibition was packed with so many people who I overheard talking and absorbing all the information and truly valuing Jo Spence and her work.

    There is always something interesting to see and do at Wellcome and it’s free. There are often extra activities that happen throughout the day – also free! And I can vouch for how wonderful the cafe and shop is and it’s right by Euston so very easy to get to! Check out their website site to find out more information.

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