Sunday, August 02, 2009

Exquisite Bodies...

'In the 19th century, despite the best efforts of body snatchers, the demand from medical schools for fresh cadavers far outstripped the supply. One solution to this gruesome problem came in the form of lifelike wax models. These models often took the form of alluring female figures that could be stripped and split into different sections. Other models were more macabre, showing the body ravaged by "social diseases" such as venereal disease, tuberculosis and alcohol and drug addiction...'

I'm a big fan of the Wellcome Collection and its latest exhibition, Exquisite Bodies, which runs until 18 October, is yet another small but perfectly formed gem hidden among the vast treasures of the capital's much grander museums and much better publicised gallery spaces.

Although it's not a massive event it manages to be gruesome, fascinating and educational all at the same time and, even better from a personal perspective, the story of the Victorian gallery owners who displayed this work but were closed down because some of it was considered obscene could well be the kernel of an idea for a new play about the Victorians and their attitude to sex.

Also running alongside Exquisite Bodies is Diary Drawings: Mental Illness And Me, an exhibition of some 159 drawings by artist Bobby Baker, which chronicle her descent into and subsequent efforts to deal with mental health problems. It sounds quite grim but it manages to be accessible, uplifting and funny.

Both these exhibitions are well worth a look and entry is free to both.

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