Friday, June 10, 2011

Wellcome exhibition on the history of dirt

I'm applying for PhD funding. I hadn't missed all the deadlines and discovered more the more I applied. Anyway had an interview on Wednesday at Imperial - didn't get it, but hey-ho there's another interview next week - Yay!

After the interview me and T - an old friend of Mum's who is now a friend of mine too - went to the Wellcome Museum on the Euston Road and went to this great exhibition. Sometimes, and this is one of those times, artistic and historic museum collections leave an imprint on one's mind. This exhibition started in the seventeenth century with the invention of the microscope in Holland. That fact was one of my few criticisms of the exhibition actually - the fact that it started as late as the seventeenth century. Why not with the Egyptians? Or the Greeks? Or the Romans? Or the Old Testament? They did have a quote which mentioned the word clean from the Old Testament but nothing on the etymology of the words 'clean' or 'dirty', that must surely be very old words indeed!

Then it turned out that T had worked at one of the exhibits - The Pioneer Health Centre in Peckham. We watched this amazing half hour promotional film of the Centre from the British Film Library I think. People smoking in doctor's surgeries. Women being told they needed major operations in front of ten other people. People being watched, surveyed without their knowledge! It was incredible from the point of view of how health research has changed (for the better) but terrible from the point of view of how health resources have diminished - the amazing place (with two swimming pools) was sold off for flats in 1990. T worked in it just before then when it was an educational establishment.

Then there was the original map of how John Snow discovered the source of a cholera outbreak in 1854 - which was amazing to see!

There was other great stuff too - a copy of the Indian constitution from the 1950s - which tried to stop discrimination against the 'unclean' lowest Hindu caste. And some bricks made of human faeces and another film about the difficulties women have using and finding public toilets in India. And at the end of an exhibition a photographic exhibition of a landfill site in New York which is being converted into a national park.

Great stuff dirt!