Archive for October, 2010

The diseases of Tamsin van Essen


Psoriasis (detail) from Tamsin van Essen’s collection “medical heirlooms”
Psoriasis (detail) from Tamsin van Essen’s collection “medical heirlooms”

The cover story in this month’s issue of Ceramic Review is about Tamsin van Essen’s work in her project “medical heirlooms”. It’s a fabulous project at the cusp of art and science, reflecting in clay various human ailments. Her idea is in the ether at the moment as I’ve seen it picked up in other craft/art disciplines (for example Laura Splan’s lacework doilies depicting the SARS, HIV, Herpes, etc. viruses)

One of Laura Splan’s 2004 freestanding computerized machine embroidered lace doilies mounted on velvet, depicting the SARS virus.

Reading the Ceramics Review article I was taken back to 2007. At work we do a lot of research about the interplay of computing, social science, and design and so every year a few of the team (myself included) try to visit as many of the degree shows as we can, plus combined shows like New Designers. Central Saint Martins is always a high-spot, and I make sure I climb the stairs to visit the work of Kathryn Hearn’s Ceramic Design BA.

Tamsin van Essen - Medical Heirlooms
My snap of Tamsin’s medical heirlooms at her degree show in Central Saint Martins in 2007

Tamsin’s work was tucked in the corner in the 2007 show, and like so much of the work coming out of the CSM Ceramic Design BA it redefined what I thought was possible at BA level, it must have given the masters students a shock! This week Graham Pullin, Jon Rogers, Richard, and I are writing up our thoughts about two years projects from Dundee design undergraduates in Microsoft’s Design Expo, and were reflecting there on how sometimes undergraduate work, when placed alongside higher level work, can really pull its weight.

The pictures taken by Tamsin of her work and used in the Ceramics Review article are amazing. She’s just finished an exhibition at the Wellcome Collection and it will be worth keeping an eye on her site to watch for forthcoming exhibitions:


Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus at Kings


Judas Maccabaeus menorah 2008 by Sara Hopkins on flickr
Judas Maccabaeus menorah 2008 by Sara Hopkins on flickr

I while back I wrote a blog post in response to the amazing production of Britten’s “Turn of the Screw” put on by the Cambridge University Opera Society. One of the things that made that production so magical was the lad playing Peter Quint, one Matt Sandy. I’ve just picked up the Cambridge University Musical Society brochure for the 2010-2011 season from our post room and notice that Matt (now listed as Matthew – this must be posher) is singing in the CUMS Chorus performance of Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus. It will be at 20:00 on Saturday the 13th in Kings College Chapel. If you don’t know Judas Maccabaeus (I don’t) Spotify has at least two versions: the Sir Charles Mackerras (with the English Chamber Orchestra, Felicity Palmer, Dame Janet Baker, John Shirley-Quirk, …) and the Nicholas McGegan with the Philarmonia Baroque; plus there’s an informative Wikipedia page.

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Darn it – I cannot go. It clashes with a concert by the Cambridge Concert Orchestra at Comberton Village College which I’m playing in.