Can these dry bones live? In ‘Bone’, a new exhibition at the Florence Nightingale Museum, Simon Gould and Rhiannon Armstrong demonstrate triumphantly that they can. ‘Bone’ brings together 45 objects from museums and collections around the world, and uses them to transform the way we think about our most enduring remnants. Like a growing number of contemporary curators, Simon and Rhiannon have eschewed a single, fixed narrative, preferring a more open and poetic process that enables visitors to explore the resonances and intersections of these objects for themselves. So an X-ray of Sigmund Freud’s head is displayed close to a pair of medieval ice-skates, a bone china teacup and saucer, and a box of blood, fish and bone fertiliser. In this talk Simon and Rhiannon join me to discuss the symbolism of skulls, the haunting beauty of PET scans, and the power of bone to reconnect us with deep history and death.
You can listen to & download the podcast using the embedded player below, or (if you prefer) you can go straight to the Sick City Project page on Soundcloud. This is the sixth in a regular series of podcasts, in which I explore the history, literature, art and science of medicine in London (and occasionally further abroad). Keep an ear out for future talks on leprosy in London and nineteenth-century wax museums.