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The Medicine Chest

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  • A 'Jungle'

    "A ‘jungle’ consisted of a selection of pathological specimens from the Pathology Learning Centre that had been affected by typhoid fever, ascaris adult worms, yellow fever, amoebic ulcerations, tuberculosis and malaria. The diseases that afflicted these specimens were regarded as ‘tropical’. As described in Chapter One, BWC used the jungle as a significant terrain that called for a medicine chest to combat pathogens: ‘Whether you were valiantly saving your compatriot in war, traversing a dark African jungle, navigating one of the world’s first flying machines, exploring the most desolate place on earth, ascending the highest mountain in the world, or simply enjoying the windswept British coast, the chest would be there, ready for any ailment’ (Johnson 2008b: 255). BWC promoted their chests as the ideal antidote for a tropical landscape ‘at once full of potential wealth for imperial Britain, but simultaneously rife with disease’ (Johnson 2008b: 258) and claimed that the tropical colonies were ‘by far the most dangerous regions for travellers’ (BWC 1934: 8). It was here that ‘desolating ailments’ were encountered, all ‘particularly fatal to the so-called white man who originates in temperate climates’ (BWC 1934: 8). I adapted the colour of the images of afflicted intestines, livers, stomachs and brains and used them as material to construct a dense jungle that referenced this aspect of the medicine chest’s history. Printed on separate glass sections that fit into the cabinet at spaced intervals to create an illusion of depth and three-dimensionality, the work draws on the cross-sectional display technique used in many anatomy museums worldwide, in projects such as the Visible Human Project (1995) and that the artist Damien Hirst references in his works . Creating a visual link between the UCT specimens and the history of these diseases surfaces the occluded racial undertones of these understandings" (Liebenberg 2021: 267).
  • Flight Patterns

    Flight patterns observed on a bus en route back to London from Oxford on a research trip in 2017.
  • Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning

    Cyanotype on paper. Ink on perspex. The work shows the exact positioning of the stars from J.M. Barrie’s window at 3 Adelphi Terrace, London (51°30'N 0°7'21"W), on Saturday, 19 June 1937 – the night of his death. Based on the direction of his window, I was able to locate the ‘second star to the right’ at the 45 degree angle he would have stood and viewed the night sky. Hopefully, he reached his destination, after departing the flat and traveling ‘straight on till morning’.
  • Pisces (Platichthys Fleus)

    Addressing the fact that 95% of known animal species are smaller than our thumbs, yet natural history museums displays are filled with mostly large animals, this sub-museum shows the legs of a flea highlighting its muscles; a whole squid, just a couple of millimetres long; beetles that have been sliced along their entire length, through the antennae, head, legs and body — 1/10th of a millimetre thick; as well as these two baby flounder fish.
  • Space Station

    Household objects and spray paint. A space station made with objects found around the house, spray-painted with white enamel and suspended from the ceiling with monofilament.
  • Amelia

    Amelia explaining her flight plan
  • Circumference

    On June 1, 1937, Amelia Earhart took off from Oakland, California, on an eastbound flight around the world. It was her second attempt to become the first pilot ever to circumnavigate the globe. ​
  • Woman, woman, let go of me

    In the chapter he titled, 'When Wendy Grew Up', J.M. Barrie recalls how Wendy tried, for Peter’s sake, not to have growing pains – and how she even felt untrue to him when she got the prize for general knowledge. But the years came and went without bringing the careless boy and Wendy eventually grew up and got married. If you feel sorry for her, don’t. Barrie tells us that Wendy was the kind of girl that liked growing up and that in the end, “ she grew up of her own free will a day quicker than other girls” (1989:182). All grown up with a daughter of her own, Peter visits her again one night while she’s sitting in front of the fire, darning. She hears the crow call and the window blows open as of old, Peter dropping to the floor – looking exactly the same as ever. “He was a little boy, and she was grown up. She huddled by the fire not daring to move, helpless and guilty, a big woman. ‘Hallo, Wendy,’ he said, not noticing any difference, for he was thinking chiefly of himself; and in the dim light her dress might have been the nightgown in which he had seen her first. ‘Hallo, Peter,’ she replied faintly, squeezing herself as small as possible. Something inside her was crying, ‘Woman, woman, let go of me’” (1989: 185 - 186).
  • Wings

    512 lasercut hands derived from images of healing: 2500 BC - 2000 AD.
  • Bird Mark 7 Respirator

    Dr. Bird invented a number of popular medical devices that were used to care for patients with breathing problems. During WWII he served in the Army Air Corps where, in addition to training and transport assignments, he studied aircraft and respiratory and cardiovascular problems at high altitude. Two devices that he produced during the war went into the design of his first commercial ventilator, the Mark 7 Respirator. Dr. Bird’s respirators and anesthesia ventilators have been used during many of the first human surgical procedures. Among these were the first open heart procedure and the first liver transplant.
  • Amelia's letter

    Amelia Earhart sat down on the morning of February 7th, 1931, and penned this letter to her publicist and future husband, George Putnam: "Please let us not interfere with the others’ work or play, nor let the world see our private joys or disagreements. In this connection I may have to keep some place where I can go to be myself, now and then, for I cannot guarantee to endure at all times the confinements of even an attractive cage".
  • Earhart's pilot license #6017 photo

  • The Sea Birds of Isabella

    Aired between 1968 and 1976, 'The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau' was a documentary television series about underwater marine life. It was directed by Alan Landsburg and hosted by French filmmaker, researcher, and marine explorer Jacques Cousteau. In the 33rd episode of the series, titled 'The Sea Birds of Isabella', the crew journeys off the coast of Mexico to an island to study its tropical birds. ​Three years after it was shown, Cousteau's son, Phillipe (then aged 38) died trying to land his seaplane, called the Flying Calypso, on the Taos River in Portugal.
  • Murmeration

    Heart murmurs are sounds – such as whooshing or swishing – made by turbulent blood in or near the heart. ​When doctors listen to a child's heart, what they usually hear is a simple rhythm: "lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub..." Sometimes, they'll hear an extra sound in between the lub and the dub. That extra sound is called a heart murmur. Heart murmurs can be harmless or abnormal. In the case of the latter, it is usually the result of abnormal blood flow through the heart caused by a heart valve not working properly.
  • Amelia

    "We are on the line 157 337. We will repeat this message. We will repeat this on 6210 kilocycles. Wait." On July 2, 1937 Model 10 Electra 1055 piloted by Amelia Earhart with navigator Fred Noonan took off from Lae Airfield, New Guinea and was never seen again. Earhart's last radio message was estimated to be within 200 miles of her destination Howland Island. Burn holes made with a magnifying glass on a handkerchief which corresponds to the positioning of the stars as observed from the place, date and time Amelia Earhart sent her last broadcast.
  • Amelia (detail)

    "We are on the line 157 337. We will repeat this message. We will repeat this on 6210 kilocycles. Wait." On July 2, 1937 Model 10 Electra 1055 piloted by Amelia Earhart with navigator Fred Noonan took off from Lae Airfield, New Guinea and was never seen again. Earhart's last radio message was estimated to be within 200 miles of her destination Howland Island. Burn holes made with a magnifying glass on a handkerchief which corresponds to the positioning of the stars as observed from the place, date and time Amelia Earhart sent her last broadcast.
  • Flight

    A chorus of juvenile heartbeats affected by Atrial Septal (ASD) and Ventricular Septal Defects (VSD), Patent Ductus Arteriosus(PDA), and Aortic Valve Stenosis (AVS), transposed to a higher frequency to simulate birdsong
  • The Lost Boys

    After they left Neverland, Mr and Mrs Darling adopted the Lost Boys. Before they had attended school a week they saw what goats they had been not to remain on the island; but it was too late, and they settled down to being as ordinary as “you or me or Jenkins minor” (Barrie 1989: 180). It is sad to say that the power to fly gradually left them. “At first Nana tied their feet to the bedposts so that they should not fly away in the night; and one of their diversions by day was to pretend to fall off buses; but by and by they ceased to tug at their bonds in bed, and they found that they hurt themselves when they let go of the bus. In time they could not even fly after their hats. Want of practice, they called it; but what it really meant was they no longer believed” ( Barrie 1989: 180-181).
  • Icarus

    Perspex wings with histology slides. Histology slides are prepared by taking a sample of biological tissue and fixing it to preserve the tissue in as natural a state as possible and prevent postmortem decay. The tissue is immersed in a chemical fixative and then embedded in wax to make it hard enough to cut into very thin sections of tissue (usually 5 to 7 micrometers in thickness). It is then passed through baths of solvents which remove the wax, then through graded alcohols, water and finally through baths of haematoxylin and eosin to stain it for better viewing under a microscope.
  • Electrocardiograph of first heart transplant

    “The ventricular peaks would shoot up as in wild flight, and their intermediate planes would begin to jumble against one another like the sudden crashing of cars on a freight-train. The heart’s beautiful symmetry would then be reduced to an erratic green line of wild jerks until it entered the final isoelectric phase resembling a sawtooth – jagged lines of the heart seeking to rise like a dying bird, fluttering upward, only to fall once again onto its flat plane of death” (Barnard in Young 2002: 79-80).
  • Denise Darvall

    "During the first heart transplant a shift occurred in the heart of Denise Darvall, the young brain-dead car accident victim whose family had allowed her heart to be given up. In his account of the operation, Barnard writes how her heart’s life fluid returned from the lungs – how many million times had it happened? – but different this time, void of oxygen. How her heart would react, at first, as if meeting only a small inconvenience. Unaware of what was happening, it would simply pump more excitedly – expecting some relief. Yet this would never come, and it would fall back in the first wave of confusion and fatigue. Barnard equates Darvall's heart with a bird trying to take flight" (Liebenberg 2011: 107-108).
  • SP-368 Biomedical Results of Apollo

    Electrocardiograph signal received at Mission Control during various periods of the Apollo 11 mission
  • Moon landing

    "FIZZY LIFTING DRINKS, it said on the next door. ‘Oh, those are fabulous!’ cried Mr Wonka. ‘They fill you with bubbles, and the bubbles are full of a special kind of gas, and this gas is so terrifically lifting that it lifts you right off the ground just like a balloon, and up you go until your head hits the ceiling – and there you stay.’ ‘But how do you come down again?’ asked little Charlie. ‘You do a burp, of course,’ said Mr Wonka. ‘You do a great big long rude burp, and up comes the gas and down comes you! But don’t drink it outdoors! There’s no knowing how high up you’ll be carried if you do that. I gave some to an old Oompa-Loompa once out in the backyard and he went up and up and disappeared out of sight! It was very sad. I never saw him again.’ ‘He should have burped,’ Charlie said. ‘Of course he should have burped,’ said Mr Wonka. ‘I stood there shouting, “Burp, you silly ass, burp, or you’ll never come down again!” But he didn’t or couldn’t or wouldn’t, I don’t know which. Maybe he was too polite. He must be on the moon by now’” (Dahl 1974: 95).
  • The Eagle has landed (Apollo 11 Lunar Module Ascent Stage Photographed from Command Module)

    The Apollo 11 Lunar Module ascent stage, with Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. aboard, is photographed from the Command and Service Modules (CSM) during rendezvous in lunar orbit. The Lunar Module (LM) was making its docking approach to the CSM. Astronaut Michael Collins remained with the CSM in lunar orbit while the other two crewmen explored the lunar surface. The large, dark-colored area in the background is Smyth's Sea, centered at 85 degrees east longitude and 2 degrees south latitude on the lunar surface (nearside). This view looks west. The Earth rises above the lunar horizon.
  • Perla Wings

    Addressing the fact that 95% of known animal species are smaller than our thumbs, yet natural history museums displays are filled with mostly large animals, this sub-museum shows the legs of a flea highlighting its muscles; a whole squid, just a couple of millimetres long; beetles that have been sliced along their entire length, through the antennae, head, legs and body – 1/10th of a millimetre thick; as well as the wings of a Chrysopa perla, a fearsome predator in the insect world.
  • Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air

    "In the struggle to add the air to man's dominions, no less than in the task of opening up the unknown and the waste places of the earth's surface, 'Tabloid' medical equipment have played an important part. In balloon, airship and aeroplane, they have been, and are being, used by men whose initiative , resource and daring we owe it, that today the 'conquest of air' is no longer a vision but a reality" (BWC 1934: 12).
  • Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air

    "In the struggle to add the air to man's dominions, no less than in the task of opening up the unknown and the waste places of the earth's surface, 'Tabloid' medical equipment have played an important part. In balloon, airship and aeroplane, they have been, and are being, used by men whose initiative , resource and daring we owe it, that today the 'conquest of air' is no longer a vision but a reality" (BWC 1934: 12).
  • Situations in which a Tabloid medicine chest made by BWC would be useful.

    Situations in which a Tabloid medicine chest made by Burroughs Wellcome and Co. would be useful. Colour process print, ca. 1909. The Tabloid medicine chests were distributed free to well known explorers such as H.M Stanley and Ernest Shackleton. The word 'tabloid' was coined by the firm of Burroughs Wellcome and registered as a trademark.
  • The Jaguar Shark

    In Wes Anderson’s 2004 film, 'The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou', Bill Murray plays the part of eccentric oceanographer, Steve Zissou. Zissou is both a parody of and homage to Jacques-Yves Cousteau, to whom the film is dedicated. The characters were inspired by The Great Gatsby and The Magnificent Ambersons, whilst the plot has been compared to Moby Dick. While filming a documentary, Steve’s partner and close friend, Esteban du Plantier, is eaten by a creature Zissou describes as a “Jaguar shark.” For his next project, Zissou orchestrates documenting the shark’s destruction.
  • Amelia

    Amelia Earhart explaining her flight and the welcome she received
  • Murmeration

    A short film that follows the journey of two girls in a canoe on the River Shannon and how they stumble across one of nature's greatest phenomenons; a murmuration of starlings.
  • 'Tabloid' A Brief Medical Guide (p12-13)

    A guide to illnesses common to tropical regions and how to cure them using Burroughs Wellcome & Co.'s products
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