Thanks very much to the lovely Kate Bentham for her great summary of the week 7 posts – I always enjoy reading her summaries (and think they’re better than mine).
Amongst the excellent posts for week 8, two caught my eye immediately. First, Dr John Taylor’s A bolshie young consultant which instantly conjured up for me the kind of confidence we have/had when young that enables us to question without hesitation the status quo, the old methods of doing things. Sometimes things are a certain way for a good reason that isn’t immediately obvious. Other times, one discovers that it’s simply because a process or a structure grew organically and nobody reviewed it before and it could be better and work better for all the people involved.
Louise Atkinson’s Art and research week 93: Eduardo Paolozzi’s ‘Lost Magic Kingdoms’ was the second post to sound a particularly strong chord in my mind at the mention of the Museum of Mankind in London. I sometimes visited that museum when I worked for a few years in London from 1985, based in offices in Savile Row. Their old-fashioned approach to displaying as many objects as possible within cabinets, with scant information, fascinated me. If I had had the leisure and confidence, I would have spent time drawing in there. I could understand why Eduardo Paolozzi spent time thinking about that museum’s displays.
As a historian, I want to know more about objects – how they were made, what their context and meaning was, what influenced the appearance – but as an artist, I can connect in other ways with artefacts as objects made by human beings. Simple things can connect me to past makers, like the fingerprints of one or two of the people who made the bricks of my home in the 1930s. I know what clay feels like when it’s wet, drying out, dried before firing, and I know where they dug up the clay. It adds something to the quite ordinary bricks for me.
Whatever we do, having a sense of humanity is important. Digital technology is seen as dehumanising by some but Ron Johansen lists some apps and websites that can help us when we’re at our most vulnerable and have health concerns in Healthcare in the Digital Age – What is the world coming to? I must admit that watching some healthcare staff using computers can tempt me to offer to input my information myself, but I’m aware that I don’t use any health apps yet and could find one or two useful.