Monday, 14 November 2016
In a jar, part two
After my visit to the Gordon Museum I went to the Hunterian museum on Lincolns Inn Fields. This is a public museum but still not to be taken lightly. As I mentioned in the previous post I knew that I would find this difficult .
I had come to see the Evelyn anatomical tables.These are seventeenth century wooden boards with the veins,nerves and arteries of a body laid out on each like a strange piece of lace.So delicate and so unnerving, you are looking at the wiring of a human who walked and talked set against a dark wooden board with knot holes looking out at you from between the vessels.The rest of the body had been dissected away from them rather like cutting away the fabric from the seams of clothes instead of unpicking them.
Much of the museum consists of displays of wax topped glass specimen jars with beautiful hand written labels and it was these that moved me most. I found that I was mourning the puss moth in a jar and thinking of the hyacinth flower that never was, floating like a strange jelly fish with its' long white roots.I kept asking myself if it was necessary to truncate so much life in order to study it but answered straight away that it must have been.
Knowledge is made up of tiny stitches, like Charlotte Waite's cross-stitch celebrating her survival of chloroform. And like the film I watched three times upstairs of a coronary bypass. And the latex skin pads for students to practise suturing which resemble trapunto quilting. Fragments of knowledge made from lives and sewn together.
The next day I sat in my studio and sobbed.