Tuesday, 17 May 2011

University of Oxford

Last week we took part in a seminar at the University of Oxford, Creative ecologies: conditioning inventiveness.
The other people invited were eminent geographers, archeologists, political theorist, musicologist, philosopher and anthropologist, an amazing combination of knowledge.
To put it simply, we were looking at creativity in its wider sense, basing the discussions on some of the objects from the awe inspiring Pitt Rivers Museum which hosted us for 3 days. The objects used, which we were allowed to manipulate,
included a tupilak,
a mandrake root,
a desiccated heart encased in a heart-shaped lead container and a Micronesian Nautical chart.pictures from the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

From the introducing paper by Charlotte Bates, Joe Gerlach, Thomas Jellis, Wendy Morrison, and Sefryn Penrose, the seminar aimed to engage "with objects which are in some ways unfamiliar to us, which will stimulate us to engage and to talk in ways unusual in an academic meeting. As we have stressed above, the idea of mutual making of people and objects is key to many current approaches to the material world. Academics tend to write and talk about this mutuality, rather than engage with it. There is risk as well as potential in such engagement, but we are hoping not just to consider creativity from a distance, but also to set up some of the conditions in which creativity occurs."
As part of our engagement for the seminar we devised a workshop session looking at the importance of individual recollection of objects and their personal meanings.

We felt very privileged to be able to spend a week discussing and exploring such notions in the company of fascinating people and with the access to such unusual objects.

Thursday, 5 May 2011


Last week we went to Marseille to meet some people (amongst others Vanessa Santullo one half of the great culture blog Marseille face b) and, after talking about it for many years, we finally started to discover this exciting city.

Along the way we were advised to check the Bonne Mère (the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde) to see the ex-votos.
There were indeed some fascinating ex-votos paintings but the most amazing sight was the of dozens of models of boats of different periods, and a few planes, hanging from the ceiling, placed there in gratitude to the Saints. Boats floating in church.

We look forward to returning to Marseille soon.