Sunday, 22 September 2019

Heads in the City …




These appeared at places I visited, or had not intended to visit …


I got lost before I started - this is Brunswick Square ...
... lots of connections here too - anon!
My head too has wandered rather far and wide in looking things up for this post noting future articles … but for now we’ll stick to a few relevant heads …




Jeremy Bentham
(1748 - 1832)


I’d been to see an exhibition at Senate House Library … but on walking through to the exhibition area I passed some renowned heads … well I like to know who’s who in the library … so stopped to take photos and to find out … the first was:



Jeremy Bentham (1748 – 1832) the English philosopher, jurist and social reformer regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism …


Sorry Mr B - I chopped
your head off
Bentham thought it was unfair and wrong that universities should be controlled by religious bodies and that they were open only to male members of the Church of England.


So he helped to found University College, London, a secular college open to all males, regardless of personal belief.



UCL's beloved treasure -
his auto icon
His other claim to fame was that he wished his body to be used for medical research, but that his skeleton, dressed in his own clothes, was to be preserved in University College, so that he could continue to attend meetings there!



His clothed skeleton, with sculpted head and hands, can still be seen in a glass case in University College, being one of their treasured possessions. 

Augustus de Moran
(1806 - 1871)


The other three sculptures that I saw were men associated in one way or another with reforming Britain:




Augustus de Morgan

Augustus de Morgan (1806 – 1871) – a mathematician and logician.   He formulated De Morgan’s laws (beyond me!) and introduced the term mathematical induction, making his idea rigorous.  (father to William de Morgan, the potter and creative designer, who influenced the Arts and Craft Movement.)


Sir Richard Quain


Next we see Sir Richard Quain (1816 – 1898) an Irish physician, who enrolled in medicine at University College London … and who, along with other members of his family, left funds with which the Quain Professorships of Botany, English Language and Literature, Law and Physics were endowed.  (He was a great grandfather of author Ian Fleming).






William Shaen
Last but not least the bearded sculpture (by Thomas Woolner), no extant photo of him appears, is of William Shaen (1825 – 1892) a radical lawyer, who helped found Bedford College – the UK’s first higher education college for women.



I then went round the corner to see an exhibition at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on ‘Stolen Moments - Namibian Music History Untold’ … another post anon! 




Sculptures by Sokari Douglas Camp
But you couldn’t miss these two magnificent sculptures in the foyer of SOAS made from galvanised steel and paint by Sokari Douglas Camp …



Sokari Douglas Camp



… she works predominantly with steel (which she describes as ‘so elastic and flexible’), but also with plastic, wood, feathers, acetate, glass, paint, silver, and gold leaf. 







I quickly went to look at the Silver Vaults off Chancery Lane – I need a long time there, and preferably with a very long pocket – but I found some interesting facts for yet another post!





I was on my way down to Whitechapel, east London to the Gallery that, on Thursdays, stays open into the evening – I was defeated as the works on show or exhibited were beyond my ken!  but …




… as I didn’t actually know where the Gallery was … I had wandered into a large atrium, thinking that might be the Gallery, to ask.






I found myself with two more heads … and a delightful security guard … who - when I squizzed him about them – was somewhat bemused!



The atrium with 'Numen 2'
I understand the CEO was impressed with the sculptor –hence the placement of Numen 1 and Numen 2 in the foyer … they had been part of last year’s Sculpture in the City …




The sculptor, Thomas J Price, is a multi-disciplinary artist, London born and based, working across the mediums of sculpture, film, photography and performance.


Numen 1


His very individual work explores representation in its many forms – in addition to subconscious perceptions embedded into the human psyche …



Numen is a Latin term for “divinity”:  "the spirit of the place—its numen—was strong" – the spirit or divine power presiding over a thing or a place.




Price is talented … exhibiting at the National Portrait Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Harewood House and Hales Gallery (a contemporary art space in the Tea Building in London’s East End). 

Numen 2



Renowned artist Damian Hirst owns his work, while other works can also be found in the Rennie Collection (contemporary art) in Vancouver, Canada (but with global connections) – it’s no mean feat for an artist still in their 30s.





Heads, heads, heads and heads … including Bentham’s head (believe it or not) still preserved: mummified and securely locked away … gave me lots of insights into life in this great city from the early 1800s …



Study on proportions of Head and Eyes
by Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519)

… including the advancement of education … as evidenced in Negley Harte’s quote: ‘All universities are different, but some are more different than others.  The University of London is the most different of them all.’   

Negley Harte is an Emiritus Professor in Economic History and has written widely on the foundation and history of the University of London.



My head is bursting … to get this posted … as you can tell rather more articles to follow … so for now I’ll leave Heads in the City … in the City …

Apologies – this is long … but I wanted to at least highlight various subjects (as no doubt you can gather) referencing some background for future posts.

Here too are some links … on the artists …

Thomas J Price – website

Sokari Douglas Camp -  the sculptor


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

43 comments:

lostinimaginaryworlds.blogspot.com said...

I do envy your ability to walk out of your home, at any time you like, and go anywhere. We don't realise what a gift this is until, through circumstances, it is taken from us. But as it's not to be, I'm pleased you share your experiences. On this occasion, at the beginning of your excursion, you walked me down memory lane, through my 6th form history lessons. I was delighted you found dear Jeremy Bentham. I'd only seen a photograph 🤗

David M. Gascoigne, said...

As always, Hilary, your whimsical, eclectic contributions are wonderfully entertaining. Perhaps you have given me a whole range of new ideas as to what I might like to have done with my body! Not for a while yet, however. It is interesting, and a reflection of the times no doubt, that all the heads are of men! Maybe it's time to hunt up some women. I always find it interesting that the term "bust" is used for a head such as this, and also for a very appealing part of the female anatomy! If there is a connection and you know about it, please explain.

Jz said...

Finding those Numen was certainly a happy accident!

BookMan has been to see Jeremy Bentham but I'm kind of thinking that's one novelty I could take a pass on... (Did you actually go see him, or is that a pic you found online?)

Botanist said...

I think everyone knows de Morgan's laws intuitively, but they get hard to fathom when put into mathematical language rather than talking about everyday objects.

Suppose you have a tube of Smarties and red or yellow are your favorites. If you pick one up and it's not your favorite (either red or yellow) then clearly it's not red and it's not yellow. That's all there is to it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Carole - I appreciate what you're saying ... when I was near my mother for her 5.5 years in a Nursing Centre - it was a challenge and I wasn't doing the caring ... just the responsibility of one's mother in her final years. It's tough ...

So now I do appreciate when I can 'wander off' and 'wander around' or just travel to London as and when ... and then write some of it up in some form or other.

I never did history at a high level - and only really started picking up history since I've been blogging and visiting various places. I think I might have seen Jeremy at UCL - as that's where he 'lives' ... but that codicil to his will - to make sure he had an auto-icon made, and is still around ... I've never forgotten. Glad you enjoyed 'seeing him again' ...

@ David - this was a stretch ... but I'm glad I checked things out. Gosh I wonder if I've set up a trend for us all to add preservation of our bodies in a codicil to our wills - not me!! But let me know if you have or do!

Well men rule the world - so I've been led to believe and have always done so ... isn't the pink one 'a lady'? Men would support men ... still do - but life is changing slowly ... Barbara Hepworth, Claudel Camille, Elisabeth Frink ... well also I don't know if they've sculpted womens' heads ...

Re busts - well I found the answer to that one!
Originally:

'bustum' in Latin was a tomb, sepulchral, monument;
Italian it was 'busto' ...
then French 'buste' ...

and in mid 17th C it became 'bust' in English ... denoting the upper part or torso of a large sculpture ...

So every time you touch up a woman or stare at her 'bust' - you are looking at that part of a large sculpture - possibly made of marble!
Hope that answers the question ...

@ Jz - yes I was really pleased to come across the Numen - and another happy accident occurred there too ...

I took his sculpture photo in the Library, the others are c/o Wiki ... I'm sure I've seen Jeremy in situ at UCL ... but I don't think I took a photo of him at that stage ...

@ Ian - ah well now you've explained it so succinctly ... I can see it's easy ... on top of that I can see where his son got his love of colours from - those smarties! Thanks for the explanation ...

Thanks so much to you four - interesting comments ... keeping me on my toes - cheers Hilary

A Heron's View said...

I recall visiting a Tussauds display of heads in Cheddar and it gave me the creeps, so much so that I had leave and go outside. Never since having had that experience can I ever look comfortably at such again.

Chatty Crone said...

You have a T O N of knowledge there- hard to know where to start. I guess the most interesting to me was Bentham - at first I thought it was old George Washington - but no. I think that is so cool he gave his body to science and then left his bones to attend the meeting!
Love, sandie

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

A delightfully unpredictable ramble. I made the acquaintance of Mr Bentham many years ago when at university in London - not the sort of thing one can easily forget. The others are all unknown to me so I shall see if I can find out about them.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Mel - Tussaud was a just brilliant sculptress ... but we seem to be made to be scared by 'models' ... so can believe you and your visit ... sorry this post has formed in your mind as one of those ...

@ Sandie - yes - there is a lot of information here - hence my need to post a long article with the links and information ... I'm glad you found it interesting ... and yes Bentham was a special person - as a philosopher with a wild imagination - he was serious - as he's been remembered ...

@ John - it was a tiring ramble - pavements aren't the kindest! Oh great - you've met Mr Bentham - he was a fine gentleman ... and I can bet you learnt wouldn't forget him. It must have been wonderful studying in London ... and thank you for wanting to check out the other people mentioned ...

Cheers to you three - so glad the post seems to be of interest - take care - Hilary

Anabel Marsh said...

Interesting! I know about Jeremy Bentham, in life and in death, but most of the rest was new to me.

Elephant's Child said...

As always, a fascinating post which has triggered my mind to wander.
I suspect I would do a lot to NEVER attend another meeting, so am intrigued that Mr Bentham wanted to attend in perpetuity.
Interestingly a street very near to my childhood home was Bentham Street, and I strongly suspect it was named for him (which I never knew).
Many thanks.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Thank you, Hilary!

Liz A. said...

So many heads to get my head around.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

His clothed skeleton still sits there...so creepy!

Hels said...

What a very special family those de Morgans were! Dad Augustus was a clever mathematician and logician and son William was an important designer in the Arts and Craft Movement. Both made their mark on the world.

DMS said...

I think it was a "heady" time for you for sure. Can't believe all the ones you saw! I love that you wandered in to a building think it was a gallery and found more heads and learned about them. Art is everywhere! Thanks for sharing. :)
~Jess

Joanne said...

you do get around. Quite the head swiveling needed. Glad to see the female artist with some female heads. It is quite the stuffy male world, when you put them all together. Interesting and mind (head) blowing journeys in the city.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Anabel - yes there was a lot of interesting 'stuff' ... while Jeremy Bentham was the only one I knew.

@ EC - I do meander off ... but good to know you are taken to wander too. I still do a few meetings - but certainly not in perpetuity! I'm sure a lot of the thoroughfares are named after local dignitaries or a person of fame from days gone by ...

@ Pleasure David ... it was an easy answer.

@ Liz - yes I couldn't decide how else to post about them ... so they all got put together ...

@ Alex - yes - he now permanently resides in a main building on public display. However for the retirement of Sir Malcolm Grant as provost of University College in 2013 - Bentham for the one and only time, after his death, attended Sir Malcolm's final council meeting!

@ Hels - I was interested to find that Augustus was father to William de Morgan the amazing Arts and Craft designer. Both certainly made their mark on the world ... I've just noted one of his students was Ada Lovelace.

@ Jess - especially as my brain was working overtime, as I looked at and explored these heads. That so-called gallery turned out to be really interesting and I came away with more information ... art is everywhere ...

@ Joanne - yes this visit covered a few exhibitions and areas to see - so much more ... but enough is enough sometimes and I accomplished what I set out to visit - and then some.

I did have a brief look for female busts (as in sculptures) - but decided enough was enough ... the two 21st century artists were really interesting to learn about.

Thanks so much - delighted you appreciated my 'Heads in the City' - opened my eyes to more ... so much to learn and to explore ... cheers Hilary

Keith's Ramblings said...

I have to say I do find heads on plinths a bit creepy, and as for a dressed skeleton...! A fascinating and informative piece which is what I always expect when jumping into one of your fact-filled posts! Nice one Hilary.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Not sure I'd want a giant head staring at me.

Jo said...

You do get around Hilary. Interesting about the universities. We females were considered unsuitable for higher learning in those days. Like Diane, not sure I would want a head staring at me either.

Kelly Hashway said...

I'm always amazed at artistic ability like this.

Jacqui Murray said...

I really need to hang out with you, Hilary, view the world through your eyes for a few hours.

D.G. Kaye said...

What a gift to be able to have so much rich history at your fingertips - or footsteps. :) Fascinating snippets Hilary. Thank you :) x

retirementreflections said...

"I got lost before I started" is such a great quote! I will definitely be borrowing that! :D

Stephen Tremp said...

Hi Hilary, I've often wondered at the skill of making a bust. I'm really good at a lot of categories of art, but I've always been a bust at making a bust.

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

Now this was a truly interesting post

Nas said...

Interesting about all the heads!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Keith – the 200 year old ones were head size, I guess, but the other five were very large – wonderful to see. I quite understand your reservation re Bentham in his clothes – an unusual request to be sure.

I just saw a lot during my travels and wanted to remember them, and who they were or who they were by …

@ Diane – the atrium was large and airy – the company that designed the building is another interesting subject …

@ Jo – these were areas or exhibitions I’d wanted to visit and I got caught in the ‘fun of the visit’!! So I enjoyed seeing the sculptures … a learning curve. It was interesting finding out about the universities and how they came about: something I’d been wanting to understand for ages.

@ Kelly – I agree it’s wonderful to see beautiful works by such talented artists …

@ Jacqui – well I’d love to share a few of my trips and visits with you … or just a few hours over a repast or two … it’d be fun – I’d learn lots from you.

@ Donna – it really was like that: I came out of the wrong side of the tube station and wandered off into a beautiful sunny day and a Square (Brunswick) I’d never visited before … so please enjoy the ‘quote’ …

@ Stephen – being completely non-artistic I just love seeing things up close – these heads are superb … such talented artists. You’re lucky being able to use your artistic talents …

@ Jo-Anne – there’s a lot here, but am glad you found it interesting …

@ Nas – lots of heads from the two eras … they were all fun to see – both to find out their history from the 1800s and then these two practising artists of today – I learn (a little more) as I find out about each of them …

Thanks for visiting – cheers Hilary

Susan Kane said...

I have seen death masks in museums and I'm amazed how much they show us.

Vallypee said...

What a lot of heads indeed, Hilary. That was interesting about Jeremy Bentham and his support for a secular university (if I've got that right(. I didn't know they were generally run by the church. Thanks for what you've taught and keep on teaching me!

Mark Koopmans said...

Bentham sounds like he was a fellow with a decent amount of humor and forgive me if I'm not the first to say it, a splitting image of Benjamin Franklin, whose head on the $100 bill I would love to see so much more of :)

Sue Bursztynski said...

Dear me, you HAVE been busy! Sounds like you’ve seen some fascinating stuff, without having to travel far. I’m assuming the word “numen” is where we get “numinous”...

Deborah Weber said...

Quite a heady post Hilary - one that I found quite entertaining. You always amaze me with your jaunts and fact gathering. I never fail to learn something.

Pradeep Nair said...

Hi Hilary,
Quite an interesting theme to research and write about.
I wasn't aware of a lot of stuff you have written about.
Thanks for sharing.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan - yes the death masks they made can be so realistic ... they usually served as a model for future portraits of the dead person.

@ Val - I know ... I couldn't resist writing about them all and learning about the two modern sculptors. Also learning about London University and its beginnings ... universities in the early days were run by religious organisations various. The founding of the various London colleges, which turned over time into the University of London ... muddling names!

@ Mark - I see what you mean ... that rounded mostly balded 'pate' - they do look similar. I feel your nostalgic for times previously enjoyed - all things will work out.

@ Sue - yes I had a few wanders in London town. I have to say - I'd not come across the word 'numen' before ... but yes you're right ... numinous - "arousing spiritual or religious emotion, mysterious or awe-inspiring". It's an interesting title for each of the two sculptures - Numen 1 and Numen 2, and there's a third - I'm not sure where that one is located.

@ Deborah - very heady ... glad you found it entertaining. I like to understand and find out more if I can ... hence 'heads in the city'. Glad you learnt something - I do too!

@ Pradeep - lovely to see you. Trouble is once I started looking a few things up - they lead to other things ... and I too didn't know most of the things I write up here ... but enjoy 'the research' and then having the post to refer back to.

Thanks so much for visiting - it's 'heady' post ... but for me it's that's record of these talented people ... cheers Hilary

Deniz Bevan said...

Ooh, what a neat idea for a post, Hilary! I miss visiting your blog. I hadn't known the history of University College or Bedford College, never mind De Morgan's laws... There's something fascinating to learn everywhere we look!

Sandra Cox said...

I love that Beckman wanted his skeleton to attend the meetings and that he wanted a secular school.

Christine Rains said...

Those are a lot of of fascinating heads! :) I do wonder if our university here in town has any skeletons for me to discover... On display. Not the scary way! Thanks for the tour and have a lovely week.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks for the 'heads up' Hilary. That was quite a tour. Thanks for the history. I love the idea of that skeleton attending meetings!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Deniz - it was just I really wanted to post about the heads, who they were or their sculptors ...

... and then as you noted - I found so much else, with lots of other articles that will be forthcoming shortly ...

@ Sandra - I don't think Beckham would want his skeleton attending football meetings ... but love 'the turn' of name - poor Bentham would be turning in his grave ... I'm not even sure he's got one - after all his bits are at the University?!

It's interesting the development of the 'schools of learning' and fairly shortly thereafter women were starting to be educated.

@ Christine - they fascinated me that's for sure! I'm sure your university will have skeletons ... whether you'll want to discover them - I'm not sure. I've no idea if Bentham's ghost wanders around the campuses!

@ Denise - I suddenly thought of the title ... so away I went - my heads and sculptors are recorded here. It was an interesting day - and there's lots more to it ... and yes Bentham's skeleton in fact only attended one meeting - but so be it ... at least the living sorted that out for him.

Cheers to you all - thanks for enjoying my Heads in the City ... Hilary

Rhonda Albom said...

Good ideas by Jeremy Bentham but the clothed skeleton is just too weird for me.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rhonda - he was ahead of his time ... and was a great social reformer in the late 1700s, early 1800s. I'm sure leaving his skeleton on display as it now is ... reminds us all to remember his philosophy on life ... we certainly can't easily forget him. But it is a little weird - as you mention. Cheers Hilary