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Read, Watch and Listen

Textile sample registered by H C McCrea & Co on 1 June 1875

BT 43/414/291681. This textile design in the Anglo-Japanese style uses decorative motifs associated with Japanese art, and geometric design has given way to an asymmetrical pattern. Although it is not possible to attribute the design, a number of Aesthetic designers were working in this style in the mid-1870s. Christopher Dresser undertook detailed studies of Japanese design and was particularly productive at this period, designing hundreds of textiles for a range of manufacturers. H C McCrea had connections with key designers, and it seems reasonable to speculate that this design might be by Dresser.

Edmund Richardson, University of Durham

Edmund Richardson is working on a book about the lost cities of Alexander the Great and the history of their discovery by adventurers and tricksters rather than scholars. His first book was on Victorian Britain and the ‘lowlife’ lived by magicians, con-men and deserters. His latest project is on Victorian ghost-hunters and their obsession with the ancient world which led Houdini to fight against the con-artists making a fortune from fake ‘spirits’.

Assessment of accuracy using living subjects

A blind accuracy study, using CT data collected from a living subject, superimposed the facial depiction with the subject’s face (using the skull for alignment) and the contour map represents the differences. Blue represents good accuracy (<2mm) and the largest error (>5mm) is red/orange. 67% of the facial depiction is blue. Image courtesy of Caroline Wilkinson and Chris Rynn, University of Manchester; Myke Taister and Heather Peters, FBI Academy; Stephen Richmond, Cardiff Dental School.

Richmond cell walls: drawings

The Richmond visit provided insight into the conditions of imprisonment for conscientious objectors in WW1 and WW2. Covered with drawings of family, supportive phrases and religious texts and symbols, the cell walls are testimony to the faith of the imprisoned men. Further research provided information on the experiences of individual prisoners, with drawings such as ‘N.Gaudies mother’ cross-referenced to Norman Gaudie, writer of ‘The Courage That Brings Peace’ (1922) (www.coproject.org.uk). 

‘The Sunflower’ wallpaper designed by Bruce Talbert

Registered by Jeffrey & Co on 22 January 1878. Bruce Talbert was one of the most prolific and influential designers of the nineteenth century, who designed furniture and metalwork as well as wallpapers and textiles. His ‘sunflower’ series of wallpapers were his most popular, and his style, with its use of flat patterns and sharply delineated flowers, fruit and leaves, was much imitated. This design was displayed at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1878, where it won a gold medal. The sunflower was perhaps the most popular and enduring motif of the Aesthetic movement, appearing in wallpapers, textiles, ceramics and even in the external brickwork of buildings.

Katherine Cooper, University of Newcastle

Katherine Cooper is working on a project exploring the ways in which British writers including H.G.Wells, Graham Greene and Margaret Storm Jameson helped in the escape of fellow writers facing prosecution and imprisonment under fascist governments in the period between WW1 and WW2.

Realistic faces from archaeology

Examples of highly realistic facial depictions created using the 3D manual methods. Left-Right:

  • Lady from the Early Middle Ages, the Netherlands © Maja d’Hollosy (www.skullpting.com)
  • Tut Ankh Amen © P.Plailly, Elisabeth Daynes (www.daynes.com)
  • Phillip II of Macedon © Richard Neave and John Prag (University of Manchester)
  • Richard III © Professor Caroline Wilkinson and Janice Aitken (University of Dundee)

Richmond Castle: conscientious objectors’ cells

Narration through cloth was the primary focus of the research, a reflection on family history, religious motivation and social exclusion. The recollections of John Edgar Bell’s daughter formed the first facet of background research, with a limited number of family photographs to inform the visual narrative. This was supplemented by investigation into the experiences of conscientious objectors and their families in WW1, later contacting English Heritage to arrange access to photograph the cells at Richmond Castle.

Swan, rush and iris design for a wallpaper dado by Walter Crane

Registered by Jeffrey & Co on 16 August 1877. BT 43/101/313051. This is one of Walter Crane’s earliest wallpaper designs, and was intended as a dado. Crane was the first President of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, and believed passionately that design and craftsmanship deserved to be regarded on an equal footing with the ‘fine arts’. This is reflected in the pictorial quality of designs such as ‘Swan, rush and iris’, which demonstrate his mastery of flat pattern design. Crane was introduced to Metford Warner, the proprietor of Jeffrey & Co, by the designer Bruce Talbert, and became one of their most important designers.

Leah Broad, University of Oxford

Leah Broad’s research is on Nordic modernism, exploring the music written for the theatre at the turn of the 20th century, taking her to Finland and Scandinavia to search out scores which have not been heard since the early 1900s. As a journalist Leah won the Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism in 2015. She is the founder of The Oxford Culture Review, a website communicating arts and humanities research and arts reviews.