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  • Face value

    "In 1993, the [Lydenberg] heads were temporarily moved from the SAM stairs into the SANG as part of Payne’s exhibition. In the gallery context, where ‘the shifting definitions of art, the meaning of objects, the contexts of spaces as well as the politics of culture are continuously examined’ (Martin in Payne 1993: 4), these objects became part of an exhibition of Payne’s own terracotta heads, painted and sculpted cases, etchings inspired by the heads, drawings and a collection of supermarket trolleys" (Liebenberg 2021: 159 - 160).
  • Lodestone

    An example from demonline (UCT Physics Department’s website with descriptions of educational demonstrations). Its description reads: ‘A lodestone is suspended by a string. Show that it rotates on bringing a magnet near it. Dip it into iron filings and show that it picks them up.’
  • Capitance

    "Strategies such as juxtapositioning also served to highlight poetic and emotive qualities in fields not known for encouraging them, as in a cabinet curated by Langerman titled Capitance. This featured a range of instruments from the Physics department used to measure electrical currents (galvanometers, capacitors and Wheatstone bridges); a crystal goniometer measuring crystal face angles and crystal 175 from the crystal collection in Geological Sciences; M.R. Drennan’s models of the human embryo and a wax model of flesh; and a white tutu from the School of Ballet. In combining this selection of scientific instruments with a tutu, Langerman made allowance for the materials to be considered in a more poetic light, inviting the viewer to consider how a grand jeté defies the laws of physics, for example" (Liebenberg 2021: 186).
  • Prisoners on a Projecting Platform

    Etching from Giovanni Battista Piranesi's 'Carceri d'invenzione (Imaginary Prisons)' ca. 1749–50
  • The Pier with Chains

    Etching from Giovanni Battista Piranesi's 'Carceri d'invenzione (Imaginary Prisons)' ca. 1749–50
  • Kimberley, South Africa: miners and washing gear at the Bultfontein diamond mine

    Woodburytype
  • Griqualand West, South Africa: Kimberley diamond mine.

    Woodburytype
  • Kimberley Mine

    A detail from the wallpaper used outside the Cape Town Diamond Museum in the V&A Waterfront.
  • The Drawbridge

    Etching from Giovanni Battista Piranesi's 'Carceri d'invenzione (Imaginary Prisons)' ca. 1749-50
  • Kimberley Mine 1886

    Plate from Williams, G. 1902. 'The Diamond Mines of South Africa: Some Account of their Rise and Development'. New York, London: Macmillan.
  • Unconquerable Spirit: George Stow and the landscapes of the San

    In 2008, the exhibition 'Unconquerable Spirit: George Stow and the landscapes of the San' opened at the Iziko Museum of South Africa. Curated by Pippa Skotnes, the exhibition featured the work of a relatively unknown figure in 19th century South African history. George William Stow was a British born, South African geologist, ethnologist, poet, historian, artist, cartographer, and writer who was responsible for a creating large collection of watercolours and drawings that documented the rock art he found in the caves and shelters of South Africa. The exhibition brought together a vast range of materials representing Stow’s life and the period in which it was produced – from his drawings and paintings; his letters, documents, and poems; to his maps, and field diaries. ​ The display shows one map in particular which is kept as part of the National Library of South Africa collections, and was drawn by Stow during the period he was conducting geological surveys of the country surrounding the diamond fields of Kimberley, down to the junction of the Orange and Vaal rivers and beyond. It shows amongst other things, the diamondiferous deposits of the Vaal river during the late 19th century and, as part of this section of the exhibition which focused on Stow the geologist, Skotnes displayed it alongside relevant disciplinary materials she sourced from the Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town.
  • Geological Map of the Vaal River (from 'Stow: a geological fieldguide of UCT')

    "Stow’s discovery of coal deposits in 1878, found in the beds of the Vaal River, was of interest to the diamond magnate, Sammy Marks. Marks realised the importance of Stow’s discovery and the opportunity for using coal at the Kimberley diamond fields for energy generation (Leigh, 1968:112). He believed he could transport the coal from Vereeniging to Kimberley by floating it down-river by a series of weirs to his diamond claims. This turned out to be impractical and he had to resort to using ox-wagons as a method of transport instead (Leigh 1968:17). ​ Marks & Lewis who at that time owned a quarter of all the Kimberley diamond claims, sold most of their Kimberley claims to concentrate on the coal finds through their newly formed mining company, the Zuid-Afrikaansche en Oranje Vrystaatsche Mineralen en Mijnbouvereeniging (later to become the Vereeniging Estates Limited). In 1892, the small village of Vereeniging was formally established" (Liebenberg 2021).
  • Geological Map of the Vaal River

    Geological Map of the Vaal River, from Fourteen Streams to the Kareyn Poort shewing the Various Formations, and the Positions of the Diamantiferous Deposits. Sheet No 11'.
  • The Tralfamadorians

    In Kurt Vonnegut's 'Slaughterhouse-Five', the protagonist Billy, is abducted by aliens and taken to their planet, Tralfamadore. Throughout the novel, Billy imparts what he has learned from the Tralfamadorians, whilst there. In one instance, in a letter to a late night radio station, he writes about their views on time: "The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just the way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads in a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever. When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that someone is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is 'So it goes' " (Vonnegut 1969: 24 - 25).
  • Ma

    The Japanese have a word, ‘ma’, for this interval which gives shape to the whole – this ‘gap’, ‘opening’, ‘space between’ or ‘time between’. Ma is not something that is created by compositional elements, rather it can be understood as the thing that takes place in the imagination of the human who experiences these elements. A room, for example, is called 'ma', as it refers to the space between the walls. Or a rest in music, which indicates a pause between the notes or sounds (Pilgrim 1986: 255).
  • Wave

    Vaal river mud on paper
  • Vaal Bridge

    The train crossing the Vaal bridge in the picture was the funeral train of Paul Kruger, the former president of the ZAR. He died in 1904 in Switzerland and his remains were taken to Pretoria. ​
  • H.4

    This object, a leather cartridge case said to belong to Sammy Marks, occupies a place in the Special Collections of the University of Cape Town. It forms part of the Sammy Marks Papers (BC770).
  • Sharpeville

    The predominantly black community of Sharpeville was established near Vereeniging. On the 21st of March, 68 years after Vereeniging was first established, the Sharpeville massacre occurred.
  • Barkly Bridge over the Vaal River and a barge

    Woodburytype
  • Devils Bridge sketched by Lister

    'Devils Bridge' sketched by Lister on his travels through Europe showing a bridge crossing the Gotthard Pass, northern approach, Switzerland. ​The term 'devil's bridge' is applied to many ancient bridges found primarily in Europe. These were stone or masonry arch bridges and, because they represented a significant technological achievement in ancient architecture, were objects of fascination and stories. The most popular of these featured the Devil, either as the builder of the bridge (relating to the precariousness or impossibility of such a bridge to last or exist in the first place) or as a pact-maker (sharing the necessary knowledge to build the bridge, usually in exchange for the communities souls). The legend attached to the bridge sketched by Lister is of the latter, and was related by Johann Jakob Scheuchzer in 1716. According to Scheuchzer, the people of Uri recruited the Devil for the difficult task of building the bridge. In return for his expertise, the Devil requested the soul of the first thing to pass the bridge. To trick the Devil, the people of Uri sent across a dog by throwing a piece of bread, and the dog was promptly torn to pieces by the Devil. Reference: Scheuchzer, J. , 1747 [1716]. Naturgeschichte des Schweitzerlandes. Vol. 2: 94.
  • Where their lives took on true weight

    In Alice Munro's short story 'Post and Beam', the two protagonists return home from a short vacation: "Up Capilano Road, into their own part of the city and their own corner of the world, where their lives took on true weight and their actions took on consequences. There were the uncompromising wooden walls of their house, showing through the trees" (Munro 2001: 212).
  • House

    Lokrete with metal armature Grove Road, London, E3 (Destroyed 11 January 1994)
  • Perpetuum Mobile (2400KG)

    Water, bucket, hydrophone, mist-machine, 2 400kg cement, relay timer, amplifier and cable. Water is set in motion by means of ultrasound (at times amplified by loudspeakers), generating steam that slowly spreads through the exhibition space and envelops sacks of cement whose mass is changed as the exhibition proceeds by the meandering atmospheric humidity.
  • Einstein's abstracts

    Cibachrome on aluminium. Microscopic magnification of Einstein’s equations from a blackboard that had been preserved in the History of Science Museum in Oxford
  • Micrographia

    Engraving, magnified view of the forms of small diamonds or shining sparks in flints (fig. 1), "the forms of gravel in urine (fig. 2), and a variety of regular for resulting from various combinations of globules (fig. 3, 4)"; Schem. 5. From 'Micrographia: or some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by magnifying glasses with observations and Inquiries thereupon' by Robert Hooke, Fellow of the Royal Society, 1665.
  • Kimberlite

    A display outside the Cape Town Diamond Museum in the V&A Waterfront
  • Kimberlite

    Kimberlite specimens, UCT Mantle Room
  • Kimberlite

    Kimberlite specimen, UCT Mantle Room
  • Cecil John Rhodes statue

    The man who consolidated thousands of small diggings in Kimberley to found De Beers Consolidated Mines was Cecil Rhodes, who then used the profits to extend into gold mining in and around Johannesburg.
  • The Diamond Mines of South Africa: Some Account of their Rise and Development.

    “In the mines operated by the De Beers Company alone, more than eleven thousand African natives are employed below and above ground, coming from the Transvaal, Basutoland, and Bechuanaland, from districts far north of the Limpopo and the Zambesi, and from the Cape Colony on the east and the south to meet the swarms flocking from Delagoa Bay and countries along the coast of the Indian Ocean, while a few cross the continent from Damaraland and Namaqualand, and the coast washed by the Atlantic. The larger number are roughly classed as Basutos, Shanganes, M'umbanes, and Zulus, but there are many Batlapins from Bechuanaland, Amafengu, and a sprinkling of nearly every other tribe in South Africa” (Williams 1902: 412-413). ​
  • The Diamond Mines of South Africa: Some Account of their Rise and Development.

    “The initial impetus for establishing a collection of mantle materials for research purposes in South Africa was provided by Gardner Williams and his son Alpheus Williams in the late 19th and early 20th century. These two American mining engineers shared a great interest in the mining methods and geology of the South African kimberlite-hosted diamond mines they were supervising. Each wrote books on the subject and the two men assembled a collection of scientifically interesting rock samples and minerals from the mines. Subsequent to the death of Alpheus Williams, the Williams family donated this collection to the Geology Department at UCT for teaching and research purposes” (Department of Geological Sciences 2021).
  • The South African College

    “UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, a high school for boys. ​ The College had a small tertiary-education facility that grew substantially after 1880, when the discovery of gold and diamonds in the north – and the resulting demand for skills in mining – gave it the financial boost it needed to grow. ​ The College developed into a fully fledged university during the period 1880 to 1900, thanks to increased funding from private sources and the government. ​ During these years, the College built its first dedicated science laboratories, and started the departments of mineralogy and geology to meet the need for skilled personnel in the country's emerging diamond and gold-mining industries” (University of Cape Town 2021).
  • Looking down

    Educational graphs spotted en route down to the Mantle Room, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town. Situated in the bowels of the Leslie Social Sciences Building on upper campus, the Mantle Room "houses a collection of upper mantle-derived materials (mantle xenoliths and xenocrysts, kimberlites and related rocks and megacrysts, as well as deep crystal xenoliths) that is most likely the largest of its kind. The collection was assembled over the past 50 years and has been and continues to be an invaluable and irreplaceable resource for mantle research. Informally named the “Mantle Room” collection, it is maintained under the auspices of the Department of Geological Sciences”(Department of Geological Sciences 2021).
  • Geometry in unlikely places

    "These bladder stones are most likely made up of calcium oxalate; they are faceted because they rub against each other. (Faceting only occurs when there are two or more stones together)".
  • Haematite Miner's Lung (Or Sidero-silicosis)

    Catalogue No: R3-d55-0331. Origin: UCT Anat Path museum. Old Museum No: V:x:6. Year: not recorded. ​Clinical data: No further clinical or laboratory details are available other than that the patient was an emaciated 50 year old man. Macroscopy: The specimens preserved are both lungs, the heart, kidneys, spleen and and portions of liver. In the thorax, both pleural cavities were completely obliterated by a fibrous pleurisy of long-standing and both lungs were universally adherent throughout. They were stripped off with difficulty and were found to have thickening of the pleura over the upper lobe on the left side and the upper and middle lobes on the right. The lower lobes on both sides were soft and spongy while the upper lobes were dense and firm on palpation but on section there was no cavitation and no evidence of tuberculosis. The left lung showed a dense fibrosis of the whole of the upper lobe and the upper third of the lower lobe; no crepitant lung tissue could be found in the upper lobe while the lower two-thirds of the lower was crepitant and showed emphysema of a hypertrophic nature. The lung was a dull brick colour and haematite dust flowed out with the fluid when the lung was sectioned. The right lung presented a similar appearance to the left. There was a solid dense fibrosis of the upper and middle lobes and the lower lobe showed fibrosis with hypertrophic emphysema. There was no evidence of tuberculosis and on palpation, a dense fibrosis was found with no nodular formation whatever. On section, it showed a similar appearance of a brick-dust colour, dilated bronchi and uniform fibrosis of the upper and middle lobes with no crepitant lung tissue. The pericardial sac was slightly increased in size due to a hypertrophied and dilated heart. The hypertrophy was mostly on the right side and there was a terminal dilatation of the right atrium; the valves and coronary vessels unremarkable.The liver was small and on section showed venous congestion and cloudy swelling. Microscopy: On microscopy, sections of lung show a diffuse fibrosis of both upper lobes with no recognizable lung tissue. The fibrosis in areas has a slightly whorled arrangement, the centre of which is hyaline and contains no iron pigment and surrounding it is a zone of cellular tissue containing masses of iron. In the upper part of the lower lobe where the lung tissue is recognizable as such, a few nodules definitely resembling silica nodules are to be seen. In the both lower lobes a solid oedema was noted and emphysema marked. The fibrosis was not present to anything like the same extent in the lower lobes, the emphysema being the most marked feature. No evidence of tuberculosis was found in either lung, though a calcareous gland was found in the hilum. Under polarised light, the iron showed up as a golden brown with a few points of light, clear, needle-like in contra-distinction to the iron lying free in the fibrous tissue. The macrophages are beautifully shown lying inside the alveoli filled with iron dust. Percentage of Ash 16.6 Percentage of silica to ash 6.6 Percentage of silica to dry lung 1.1 Percentage of iron to ash 10.3 Percentage of iron to dry lung 6.7 Comments: In summary, the post mortem findings were of: Dense pulmonary fibrosis; hypertrophied and dilated right ventricle; failure of compensation. This condition is described as haematite miner's lung or sidero-silicosis, caused by the inhalation of dust containing silica and ferric oxide which is the principal component of the ore. The fibrosis is thought to be caused primarily by the silica and the exact role of the iron pigment in the pathogenesis of the lesion is not clear. The earliest lesions occur as small densely fibrous, sub-pleural foci usually in the upper lobes; these grow by coalescence of adjacent foci until a diffuse fibrosis of the whole lobe is produced. Haematite miner's fibrosis is commonly associated with tuberculosis and other chronic lung infections; in addition there is quite a high incidence of carcinoma of the lung reported in these cases.
  • Silicosis

    A gold miner using a rock drill with a water spray in an attempt to prevent the occupational disease silicosis, caused by dust inhalation.
  • Deductions from smooth rocks

    Extract from Bettie Higgs's reading of rocks in 'Visual Practices Across the University'. Most of the rocks in this photograph are about 360 million years old, so the grains that comprise them are substantially older. The grains came originally from a mountain range, as large as the Himalayas, whose roots can still be seen in counties Mayo and Donegal, in the northwest of Ireland. The grains were carried south by rivers and deposited in this area; the smallest grains were carried all the way to the ocean, which was far south of Cork at the time, in what is now the Atlantic Ocean south of Ireland. (There was very little rainfall at the time: the portion of land that is now Cork was 10° south of the Equator. This can be deduced from the properties of the iron in the rock.) The water in which the grains were transported was oxygenated, and the iron precipitated out as iron oxide (haematite), which cemented the grains and which accounts for the red color (Elkins 2007: 74 - 78).
  • Observing marbling in Edirne

    A marbling demonstration observed during a 2012 trip to Istanbul and a visit to the neighbouring Edirne's Health Museum. Opened in Sultan Bayezid II külliye in 1488, the hospital treated patients for over 400 years, until 1909, along the tradition of Turkish-Islamic medicine, which included the treatment of diseases by music.
  • End papers of 'What to Observe'

    Published in 1841, Jackson’s guide was the first of a series of guides published during this period which offered notes for the traveller on appropriate conduct in the field – from providing methods for training the eye to observe what was deemed as relevant details, to instructions on which precision instruments should be carried and how to use them to record and inscribe the results of observations made (Withers 2013: 170). As Jackson states, his guide pointed out to the “uninitiated Traveller what he [sic] should observe, and to remind the one who is well informed, of many objects which (…) might escape him” (Jackson 1841: i).
  • Burrowing

    Extract from 'A Child in Time': "Later, in the sorry months and years, Stephen was to make efforts to re-enter this moment, to burrow his way back through the folds between the events, crawl between the covers, and reverse his decision. But time – not necessarily as it is, for who knows that, but as thought constituted it – monomanically forbids second chances" (McEwan 1987: 14).
  • A1.21-A1.21.1

    An object from BC666: Walter Floyd's physiology notes from when he was a student.
  • Mary Anning

    Henry De la Beche's portrait of Mary Anning, the English fossil collector, dealer, and palaeontologist who became known around the world for finds she made in the cliffs along the English Channel at Lyme Regis. These cliffs consisted of alternating layers of limestone and shale, laid down as sediment on a shallow seabed early in the Jurassic period (about 210 - 195 million years ago). ​As a woman, Anning was treated as an outsider to the scientific community. The increasingly influential Geological Society of London did not allow women to become members, or even to attend meetings as guests.
  • On the External Characters of Minerals

    "The chest is designed to meet the requirements of travellers, miners, missionaries and others who need a chest of sufficient capacity to take a good supply of medicines without undue bulk and weight. It is very portable, and, on account of the material of which it is made, capable of standing hard usage" (BWC 1934: 24).
  • Timekeeper

    Installation view of a hole revealing all painting of successive exhibition layers, 20 cm in diameter at the Viennese Secession
  • Dis-Location/Re-Location

    Farber's research examines themes of adaptation to new surroundings and circumstances through the real-life persona of Bertha Guttmann, a Jewish woman brought to South Africa from Sheffield in 1885 at the age of 22. She entered into an arranged marriage with Sammy Marks, who rose from being a peddler to one of the old Transvaal Republic’s leading industrialists. They lived in a beautiful home, now a museum, called Zwartkoppies, east of Pretoria. "Rather, from the initial cut, she inserts a seedling aloe into her flesh, delicately ‘planting’ the indigenous South African succulent into her forearm. This action represents a physical grafting of an alien botanical life form into the “lily-white corpus of Europe” (Ord 2008:106)" (Farber 2012: 35). Bertha Marks’s construction of the formal English rose garden on the ‘moral wastes’ of the Highveld could be recognised as part of a broader colonial project to ‘civilise’ the ‘barbaric’ African land. The road leading to the eastern gate of Zwartkoppies is lined with Eucalyptus trees planted by Sammy Marks. Rather as in his wife’s attempt to create her formal rose garden in her new surroundings and in so doing to ‘tame’ nature, Sammy Marks embarked on an ambitious campaign to “reclaim” and “green” Zwartkoppies, “creating a civilised landscape out of what his secretary called a wilderness” (Mendelsohn 1991:104). Thousands of trees were planted, mainly exotic varieties such as pines and blue gums, as well as orchards and vineyards (Mendelsohn 1991:104)" (Farber 2012: 58)
  • Floyd in Northern Rhodesia

    "In 1913, Walter Floyd undertook a hunting trip with a few of his friends to (then) Northern Rhodesia. It was prior to embarking on this trip, that he purchased the No. 254 medicine chest in the Burroughs Wellcome & Co shop in Cape Town. ​ "With the exception of an occasional Portuguese explorer, the area that became known as Rhodesia lay largely untouched by Western intervention until the mid-19th century. It was only after 1851, when the Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone entered this terrain, that accounts of it spread to London and further afield (Taylor 2006: 11). However, a significant number of explorers, missionaries and traders began to arrive in the region after the Berlin Conference (1884–1885) (Simson 1985: 7), and in 1890 Cecil John Rhodes, spearheading British imperial interests in the area, secured, through trickery and deception, exclusive mining concessions from the local chiefs for the British South Africa Company (Taylor 2006: 11). By 1895, the area, now renamed Northern and Southern Rhodesia after Rhodes, was proclaimed a British sphere of influence" (Liebenberg 2021: 57)
  • Smallpox

    "In Kimberley in 1883-4, several leading doctors with links to the diamond-mining industry publicly denied the presence of smallpox among migrant workers, instead diagnosing them as suffering from a rare skin disease. They appear to have done so lest admitting that the dreaded smallpox was raging, which would have affected the supply of labour and materiel and thereby interrupting mining operations. Led by Cecil Rhodes’s friend, Dr Leander Starr Jameson, measures to curb the epidemic were sporadic or, in the mining compounds, non-existent, and cases topped 2000, with mortality at 3.5 per cent of the population. Only when the colonial government eventually called in external doctors to diagnose the disease, was the cover-up terminated and vaccination, fumigation and isolation vigorously pursued. The conspiracy of denial, by retarding action and sowing doubt about the need to be vaccinated, had been responsible for no small percentage of the 700 deaths in the town" (Phillips 2012: 32-33).
  • Kimberlite

    "UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, a high school for boys. ​ The College had a small tertiary-education facility that grew substantially after 1880, when the discovery of gold and diamonds in the north – and the resulting demand for skills in mining – gave it the financial boost it needed to grow. ​ The College developed into a fully fledged university during the period 1880 to 1900, thanks to increased funding from private sources and the government. ​ During these years, the College built its first dedicated science laboratories, and started the departments of mineralogy and geology to meet the need for skilled personnel in the country's emerging diamond and gold-mining industries (Ritchie 1918: 495-496)".
  • What UCT is not telling its first years

    On the 19th of January 2015, an article appeared in the Cape Argus titled 'What UCT is not telling its first years' written by Dr Siona O’Connell, a staff member of the Centre for Curating the Archive, and lecturer at the university. In it she wrote about the absence of transformation in the university, evident in its lack of black academic staff, describing the campus as "mired in unarticulated tensions and divisions, many of them pivoting on race” and “guarded by the Rhodes Memorial – a significant imperialist edifice” that continues to shadow it “in many overt and covert ways” "(O’Connell 2015). In the article she pinpoints that even though, as first years, they will most certainly be greeted by the statue of Cecil John Rhodes overlooking the rugby field during their tour of the campus, their chances of being taught by a black professor during the full span of their degree, will be incredibly slim…
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