featured-image-2

Christmas: Part the second

Wellcome Collection might not be the first place to pop into your head when you think of Christmas. But it turns out that a holiday full of indulgence, excess and merriment is very revealing about the human condition. Elissavet Ntoulia explores how our objects can tell some unexpected Christmas stories in this two part series leading up to the big day.

Spoiler: Santa Claus isn’t real

Apologies for shattering any remaining childhood hopes, but a jolly grandfather figure dressed in red and white riding his reindeer sleigh full of presents through the Christmas sky from the North Pole to your house has never existed.

The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back to a real person though. Saint Nicholas was a Greek monk born in Myra (in modern day Turkey) around 280 A.D. He was known to help the poor and the sick. By the Renaissance he was the most popular saint in Europe, especially in Holland where he was called Sinter Klaas. Sinter Klaas stories reached the other side of the Atlantic with Dutch immigrants and they became more popular when Washington Irving referred to him as the patron saint of New York in his 1809 book ‘The History of New York’. Continue reading

featured-part-1

Christmas: Part the first

Wellcome Collection might not be the first place to pop into your head when you think of Christmas. But it turns out that a holiday full of indulgence, excess and merriment is very revealing about the human condition. Elissavet Ntoulia explores how our objects can tell some unexpected Christmas stories in this two part series leading up to the big day.

Pagan beginnings

A painting in our Medicine Man gallery shows a man in a field with a long white beard, dressed flamboyantly in a green tunic and trousers and a ‘shaman’ style fox-skin headdress. He was William Price, an eccentric Welsh doctor attracted to the cult of Druidism, something that was very popular in Wales in the Victorian era. Fleeing to Paris to escape capture for his activity in the Chartist movement, he claimed that the engravings of a 2,000 year old stone in the Louvre had ‘spoken’ to him revealing that his first born son would become a Druid Messiah. Continue reading

featured-image

A drop in the ocean: In the old asylums

‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond’ interrogates the original ideal that the asylum represented – a place of refuge, sanctuary and care – and asks whether and how it could be reclaimed. This blog series intends to showcase as many different voices and perspectives from people with lived experience of mental ill health and explore their ideas of personal asylum.

This post is from David Beales, an artist and writer who showed work in Bethlem Gallery’s ‘Reclaiming Asylum’ exhibition. In his own words, David confronts the issue of prejudice against the mentally ill by using informative illustration and captions to raise awareness of the problems confronting the mentally ill in the community.

Though there were overcrowded dormitories in the old asylums and patients were caught in a poverty trap, usually inmates for life, it was not all grim. The food may have been overcooked, but it was at least regular and on time. In one hospital I remember (and they tended to be similar) there were films in the hall on Wednesday afternoons: pre-war black and white films, ghostly projections on a large, old roll down screen, with the dated dialogue and classical music soundtrack adding to the eerie effect. Continue reading

New Way (Derrick Xtravaganza)

Strike a pose: Performance categories

This blog series guides you through a brief history of ballroom culture and voguing. From the beginnings in New York to modern voguing and performance categories, Duane Nasis explores this dance culture.

Initially conceived as ‘posing’, Vogue performance as we know it today has developed into three distinct styles which, in competition, are mutually exclusive. Continue reading

trike-a-pose-the-international-ballroom-scene

Strike a pose: The international ballroom scene

This blog series guides you through a brief history of ballroom culture and voguing. From the beginnings in New York to modern voguing and performance categories, Duane Nasis explores this dance culture.

“I want to take voguing to Paris, and make the real Paris burn,” declared Willi Ninja in 1990’s ‘Paris is Burning’. Almost a generation later and Paris has one of Europe’s most vibrant and authoritative ballroom scenes cultivated and nourished from the start by Lasseindra Ninja.

Continue reading

stike-a-pose-uk-vogue-bw

Strike a pose: UK Vogue

This blog series guides you through a brief history of ballroom culture and voguing. From the beginnings in New York to modern voguing and performance categories, Duane Nasis explores this dance culture.

When voguing came to the UK it was entering an environment with its own multifaceted history of subversive cultural practices. From cabaret and pantomime to glam rock and punk, Britain’s relative acceptance of queerness meant that social tensions tended towards lines of class rather than race, which was crucial to the DNA of New York ballroom.

Continue reading

strike-a-pose-vogues-emergance

Strike a pose: Vogue’s emergence

This blog series guides you through a brief history of ballroom culture and voguing. From the beginnings in New York to modern voguing and performance categories, Duane Nasis explores this dance culture.

By the 80s, aside from evolving to become a mecca for gay and trans People Of Colour, the ballroom scene in Harlem had developed it’s own unique set of performance conventions.

Continue reading