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The Meroë Head of Augustus in new display at the British Museum

UNTIL February 15, 2015, The Meroë Head, one of the most important surviving portraits of Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, is explored in a new Asahi Shimbun Display at the British Museum (Room 3) together with the fascinating story of its discovery.

Originally part of a statue of Augustus that was ritually beheaded in antiquity, the bronze caused an international sensation when it was excavated in Sudan in 1910. It is shown next to captivating and rarely seen photographs of the original excavation in a free display.

A rare survivor from the period, the mesmerizing portrait retains its original inlaid eyes. The eyes consist of green and black glass paste, each encircled by a small copper ring, set into wedge-shaped, highly polished limestone. The tear ducts are indicated in reddish paste. The eyelashes, now mostly broken off, were formed by thin, serrated sheets of copper or bronze.

Masterpieces of ancient craftsmanship, they truly bring the portrait to life and capture Augustus’ much celebrated and arresting gaze, a quality noted in Roman literary sources.

Based on models from classical Greece, the portrait type used for the Meroë Head differed from earlier, more naturalistic depictions of Augustus. Its timeless and ageless character successfully communicated Augustus’ authority and the might of Rome, which he ruled from 27 BC to AD 14. Yet in a dramatic turn of fate, it owes its very survival to the triumph of Rome’s enemies far from the borders of the Roman Empire.

In 25/24 BC, soon after Augustus’ conquest of Egypt, an army of the ancient African kingdom of Kush (in what is today the Republic of Sudan), destroyed and looted statues of Augustus in raids on the Egyptian border. The portrait head became a prized trophy, and was buried beneath the steps of a victory shrine in the Kushite capital of Meroë, so that whoever entered ritually trampled the decapitated head of the ruler of the Roman Empire.

The Meroë Head was excavated at Meroë in 1910, by a team led by Professor John Garstang of Liverpool University. The discovery, captured in stunning photographs, immediately attracted international attention. Lord Kitchener, who had been touring the Sudan, arrived to see the spectacular find for himself, accompanied by the Governor-General, Sir Francis Reginald Wingate.

Modern photographs in this display illustrate how, like Augustus, leaders today use portraiture to manipulate and control their public image and how these portraits are deployed in times of conflict.

After the first Gulf War, the Iraqis installed a floor mosaic of the American President George Bush Senior at the entrance of the Al-Rashid hotel in Baghdad, so that all visitors (including Western politicians and businessmen), were forced to walk over the face of the leader of the biggest power in the West – just as the Meroites did with the face of Augustus outside their victory shrine 2,000 years earlier.

The Americans in turn tore down statues of Saddam Hussein as soon as they captured the city. Between art and politics, these portraits remain powerful objects.

Image: The Meroë Head of Augustus, Bronze head from an-over-life sized statue of Augustus, likely made in Africa, Egypt, C.27 BC – 25 BC. Excavated, Africa, Sudan, 1910. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG

Website: www.britishmuseum.org/

Sebastiaan Bremer at Hales Gallery

Work by Sebastiaan Bremer

Exhibition preview

HALES Gallery has announced Σπήλαιο (Spilaio), its fourth solo exhibition with Dutch-born, New York-based artist Sebastiaan Bremer, on display from February 3 to March 21, 2015.

The exhibition, taking its title from the Greek word Σπήλαιο (spilaio), meaning “cave”, will come to life through an amalgamation of various elements, objects and media combined to create a single large-scale installation occupying the entire space of the gallery.

The exhibition will further explore the ideas from Bremer’s recent exhibition at MOCA Tucson in Tucson, Arizona (MOCA Bas-Relief (Mike-Papa-Bravo)).

Using the Greek word for “cave” for the title of the show, Bremer hints at the mythical and almost sacred side of art-making – the faith in the final outcome upon the piece’s completion, the other side.

In myths and folklore caves have long been regarded as entryways into the Underworld and as links to sacred existences. Σπήλαιο (Spilaio) is precisely that – an entryway into the different layers of Bremer’s practice and an exploration of his inspirations, from classical sculpture to totemic objects and modernist photography. All of these, either in spirit or in form, will be present in the final installation.

For his 2-dimentional works, Bremer employs various techniques to distort and change the image and the surface of the photograph: cutting and carving away sections of emulsion, which are then backfilled with paint, or using ink and photographic dyes to produce fine patterns of lines reminiscent of cobwebs or readings from seismographs.

For Σπήλαιο (Spilaio), this layering of mediums on a 2-dimentional surface of a photograph will be recreated in the space of the gallery, with the installation acting as a 3-dimensional realisation of the artist’s 2-dimensional photographic pieces, brought to life through a blending of modernist and prehistorical influences and layering of objects and media.

For Σπήλαιο (Spilaio), Bremer will transform the gallery into a mystical and dark cave or grotto-like space, inhabited by artist-made, industrial and found objects as well as image projections which also act as the only source of light. For Bremer, none of the objects in the work, seemingly selected at random, are accidental. All of them, together with the piece that they create, are part of a journey – a well-situated path where each encounter is symbolic and bears significance.

Each of the items has a unique history and background: from building materials, metal wires, glass and papier mâché to sea shells and artefacts found on the bed of the river Thames, each of them carries a unique aura which contributes to the creation of the communal being.

Now, like in Plato’s ancient Greek allegory of the cave where shadows of the objects are confused for their real essence, the shadows in Σπήλαιο (Spilaio) deceive the eye creating an image constructed from different layers, making the viewer question the levels of reality within the space. Objects, other media, art-historical and mythological references come together to create a collage which can be experienced both 2-dimensionally (as projection and shadow) and 3-dimensionally (as the inhabited space), encompassing the viewer into the work.

Sebastiaan Bremer (b. Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1970) attended the open studio program in Vrije Academie in The Hague (1989-1991) and moved to New York in 1992. Selected shows include Tate Modern (London), The Brooklyn Museum of Art (New York), Het Gemeentemuseum (The Hague), MOCA Tucson (Arizona), The Aldrich Museum (Connecticut), Marlborough Gallery (New York), Mia Sunberg Gallery (Stockholm), Projektraum I (Berlin), and the Warhol Museum (Pittsburg).

Bremer’s work is represented in important private and public collections such as the Victoria & Albert Museum (London), MoMA (New York), LACMA (Los Angeles), Berger collection (Zurich), and The Rabobank Collection (The Netherlands).

Bremer lives and works in New York.

Opening Times: Wednesday to Saturday, 11am – 6pm; or by appointment.

Hales Gallery, Tea Building, 7 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA

Website: www.halesgallery.com/

The X Factor 2015 Live Tour - 3rd O2 show confirmed

Event preview

A THIRD show has been confirmed for London’s O2 – on the evening of Saturday, March 21, 2015. Tickets are now on sale.

Previously Posted: The top eight acts taking to the stage on this year’s live arena tour are: Andrea Faustini, Ben Haenow, Fleur East, Jay James, Lauren Platt, Only The Young, Stevi Ritchie and Stereo Kicks.

Previously posted: Due to demand, four extra dates have been added to The X Factor 2015 Live Tour:

Thursday, February 19 – Bournemouth International Centre
Tuesday, March 10, Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
Tuesday, March 17 – Brighton Centre
Saturday, March 21 – London The O2 – Matinee show with doors opening at 12:30pm.

Tickets for the extra dates go onsale Friday, October 24 at 9am (all other shows onsale now).

Previously Posted: You’ve taken the journey with them from the room to the arena, sat on the edge of your sofa during the dramatic six-seat challenge at bootcamp, travelled to judges’ houses and will be tuning in to the studio shows; now is your chance to see The X Factor live.

Kicking off on February 13, 2015, in Belfast, The X Factor 2015 Live Tour is a country wide arena tour which will travel to Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Birmingham, Brighton, Cardiff, Dublin, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield with contestants performing classic songs and viewers’ favourites from the TV series.

Attended by over three million people, The X Factor Live Tour has been one of the most successful annual arena tours in the UK for the past ten years. Tickets go on sale Friday, October 10 at 9am – so don’t miss the opportunity to catch this year’s stars live in an arena near you.

TOUR DATES:

February

Friday, February 13 – Belfast Odyssey Arena
Sunday, February 15 – 3 Arena Dublin
Wednesday, February 18 – Bournemouth BIC
Friday, February 20 – Manchester Arena
Sunday, February 22 – Nottingham Capital FM Arena
Thursday, February 26 – Newcastle Metro Arena
Friday, February 27 – Glasgow The SSE Hydro

March

Sunday, March 1 – Aberdeen GE Arena (AECC)
Thursday, March 5 – Sheffield Motorpoint Arena
Saturday, March 7 – Leeds First Direct Arena
Sunday, March 8 – Liverpool Echo Arena
Monday, March 9 – Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
Thursday, March 12 – London The SSE Arena, Wembley
Saturday, March 14 – Birmingham LG Arena
Monday, March 16 – Brighton Centre
Friday, March 20 – London The O2

Tickets: from £19.50 (subject to booking fee).

Tickets including limited availability Family Tickets (4 tickets maximum 2 adults) are available from the venue box offices, select ticket agents and online at www.gigsandtours.com/ or www.ticketmaster.co.uk/. Alternatively, call 0844 811 0051 or 0844 826 2826.

24 HOUR IRISH TICKET HOTLINES

Belfast: 0844 277 4455 or online at www.ticketmaster.ie/ and Dublin: 0818 719 300 or online at www.ticketmaster.ie/.

Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon - NPG

Exhibition preview

AUDREY Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon, a photography exhibition celebrating the life of the actress and fashion icon, will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery from July 2 to October 18, 2015.

The exhibition, which marks the 65th anniversary of Hepburn’s career-changing performance at a leading West End night-club called Ciro’s (in the same building that now houses the National Portrait Gallery’s public archive), charts those early years through to her philanthropic work in later life.

A selection of more than sixty images will define Hepburn’s iconography, including classic and rarely seen prints from leading twentieth-century photographers such as Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Angus McBean, Norman Parkinson and Irving Penn.

An array of vintage magazine covers, film stills, and extraordinary archival material will complete her captivating story. These will include the actress in her Broadway dressing room when she starred in Gigi, and family shots of her performing ballet as a young girl.

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE

Tel: 020 7306 0055

Website: www.npg.org.uk/

William S. Burroughs: Can you all hear me?

Exhibition preview

AS THE final event celebrating the centenary of William S. Burroughs’s birth, October Gallery, London, is presenting an exhibition of his art, including rarely-displayed pieces.

The exhibition, William S. Burroughs: Can you all hear me? is on display from December 4, 2014 to February 7, 2015, and will highlight artists who have been profoundly influenced by Burroughs’ life, including Brion Gysin, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Liliane Lijn, Shezad Dawood and Cerith Wyn Evans.

Throughout all Burroughs work – art, novels, essays, film and sound experiments – Burroughs wove a passionate message: deconstruct control systems and think for yourself. His art is a personal exploration of intelligence.

Artists working in all genres have heard his message, and references to Burroughs’ works are now deeply embedded in our culture, from painting to film to advertising to literature to journalism to music.

Burroughs practiced visual art throughout his life. For decades he produced photographs, collages and film, then in his later years he became a prolific painter. The last fifteen years of his life, he lived peacefully in Lawrence, Kansas, near his boyhood home in St. Louis, Missouri. During this period, he produced a large body of art, and some of his greatest works of literature.

This centenary year has seen William S. Burroughs: A Life, the definitive and lauded biography by British writer Barry Miles. Burroughs’ aesthetic and methodologies have influenced generations of writers, artists, filmmakers and musicians.

Featuring Burroughs’ paintings, drawings, and sculpture, the exhibition will celebrate the transcendent magic of his work and its influence upon present art, culture and media. The show will be the last event of the centenary year.

This exhibition based in Britain, where Burroughs’ fiction was censored and yet became so significant, will address his legacy and offer a new discourse between his work and those of the artists exhibiting. When he lived in London in the late 1960’s and early ‘70s, Burroughs made strong connections with many noteworthy figures of the British art scene.

October Gallery’s long association with William Burroughs began in 1988 with his second solo exhibition, his first outside of the United States. The founders of the October Gallery have worked with Burroughs since 1974. Burroughs pioneered incisive tools – ‘cut-ups’- to deconstruct mechanisms of institutionalized control systems that corrupt inborn intelligence.

Although he is often called the father of the Beat movement, Burroughs did not associate himself with the Beats except that Ginsberg, Kerouac and Corso were personal friends. ‘We’re not doing at all the same thing, either in writing or in outlook.’

In 2012 and 2013, there were major museum shows of his art and work, at ZKM in Karlsruhe, the Vienna Kunsthalle, and at the Hamburg Deichtorhallen/Sammlung Falckenberg. This year, the Photographers’ Gallery in London exhibited Taking Shots: The Photography of William S. Burroughs.

Admission: Free.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday, 12.30 to 5.30pm.

Website: www.octobergallery.co.uk/

Tel: 020 7242 7367

October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AL

João Maria Gusmão + Pedro Paiva: Papagaio - Camden Arts Centre

oão Maria Gusmão + Pedro Paiva: Papagaio

Exhibition preview

THIS January, celebrated Portuguese artists João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva will present a magical, immersive film installation at Camden Arts Centre – their first major show in London.

The kaleidoscopic world created by 27 16mm films and two camera obscura installations, takes viewers on an imaginative journey into science, philosophy and religion. Each film examines a particular subject – a treatise on material, animal or human behaviour that probes at the nature of truth and perception.

João Maria Gusmão + Pedro Paiva: Papagaio runs from January 30 until March 29, 2015.

Gusmão and Paiva’s work draws attention to the paradoxes in the appearance of reality. Most of their films are shot with a high-speed camera then projected in slow motion, revealing ordinarily imperceptible detail with ghostly effect.

There are few contextual cues that would enable the enigmatic scenarios to be located in a specific time or place. Starting from journeys, stories, anecdotes or cinematic allegories, the veracity of each scenario is ambiguous.

The exhibition is titled Papagaio [Portuguese for Parrot] and the first work encountered, Glossolalia (“Good Morning”), 2014, is a portrait of a magnificent Macaw in flight, beckoning visitors into the mosaic of visual delights inside the galleries.

The first of the films, Falling trees, 2014, plays repetitively, acting as a consistent reference point to the other films which play in sequence. It shows the dissection of a pumpwood tree from which wooden canoes are traditionally made.

The whirring mechanics of the projectors create a soundscape that draws attention to the absence of sound in the films themselves. Concerned with ‘analogue’ approaches and technologies, any editing is done ‘in camera’ and several films contain multiple exposures within the same frame.

The two camera obscura installations directly investigate and display the behaviour of vision and light, and the aperture motif which is reiterated in other works, connects representations of the eye to the camera.

A major new 16mm film work Papagaio (Djambi) 2014, shot in São Tomé and Príncipe (a Portuguese speaking Island nation off the western coast of Central Africa), bears witness to a West African voodoo ritual, known locally as D’Jambi.

Whilst intoxicated, the participants dance and enter a state of trance in which they channel the spirits of the dead. At times the footage is shot by the artists, and at other moments the camera becomes an alibi, held and manoeuvred by one of the participants.

Co-curated with Vicente Todoli and organised in association with Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, the exhibition is accompanied by a new artists’ book, assembling meditations on philosophical subjects including Taoism, Buddhism, Decartes and Wittgenstein.

Admission: Free.

Opening Times: Tuesday to Sunday; 10am to 6pm; Wednesdays late, 10am to 9pm; Closed Mondays.

Website: www.camdenartscentre.org/

Tel: +44 (0)20 7472 5500

Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, London, NW3 6DG

Graphic Novel Exhibition - K: KafKa in KomiKs

Exhibition preview

K: KAFKA in KomiKs, an exhibition for anyone curious to see what a cartoon version of Kafka’s works looks like, is on display at the Goethe-Institut London until Friday, December 19, 2014.

Curated by American comic and audio book author David Zane Mairowitz and Polish author and radio producer Małgorzata Zerwe, the exhibition is based on his three graphic novels on Kafka: Introducing Kafka, The Trial and The Castle.

In 1992, Mairowitz collaborated with American cult cartoonist Robert Crumb on the production of Introducing Kafka, which quickly became a classic. Together with French graphic artist Chantal Montpellier, the publication of The Trial followed in 2008.

Then, last year, he teamed up with Czech illustrator and musician Jaromír 99 for the adaptation of Kafka’s novel The Castle.

On Wednesday, December 10 at 7pm there will be a film screening of Das Schloss/The Castle. A film adaptation of Kafka’s absurdist masterpiece. Austria 1997. German with English subtitles. Director: Michael Haneke. With Ulrich Mühe, Susanne Lothar, Nikolaus Paryla. Tickets: £3, free for Goethe-Institut language students and library members, booking essential.

Admission to Exhibition: Free.

Goethe-Institut London, 50 Princes Gate, SW7 2PH

Anthony Lister: Hurt People - Hurt People at Lazarides

Anthony Lister: Hurt People - Hurt People

Exhibition preview

LAZARIDES Rathbone has announced a major new body of provocative work from Australian artist Anthony Lister.

Hurt People – Hurt People, on display from November 28 to December 20, 2014, presents a series of multi-faceted portraits saturated in celebrity and media obsessed disaster, continuing the artist’s distinguished superhero series featured in 2013’s Unslung Heroes.

The exhibition extends the artist’s exploration into the innate sense of chaos and false sense of security existing in modern society, distracting us from the current continuum of corruption and tragedy.

The Brisbane-born painter illustrates themes existing between high and low brow culture whilst questioning a society immersed in obtrusive media and poisonous lifestyles. Coining the term ‘adventure painting’ Lister’s large-scale canvases are hedonistic yet demure, constantly evolving stylistically whilst extending an impressionist approach to contemporary portraiture.

Dark undertones often cloud the artist’s seductive figures, constructed from a harmony of unapologetic brush strokes and bold colour palette. Loaded with authentic energy Lister animates his ominous characters within each composition, merging technical execution of old masters with free-hand spontaneity associated with his street art peers.

Having consistently exhibited throughout Europe, America and Australia, Lister’s return to London follows recent solo exhibitions in New York and Miami, turning the artist’s focus once more to the human form and cultural identity.

The nomadic artist’s latest high-profile commissions include: The Standard in New York City’s Meat Packing district, public mural’s in conjunction with Soho’s L.I.S.A project and a newly released artist book, Anthony Lister – Adventure Painter, “documenting Lister’s physical and intellectual travels as he’s explored themes ranging from flawed superheroes to characters portraying classical mythology’s pop equivalents.” – Roger Gastman through Ginko Press.

Hurt People – Hurt People promises to transcend categorisation, unleashing a body of work both within the gallery and off-site, responding to poignant contemporary issues with an unashamed idiosyncratic delivery.

Raised in a broken home in suburban Brisbane, Anthony Lister is today among the world’s most collectable urban artists. Introduced to art by his orphaned grandmother, Lister graduated from the Queensland College of Art in 2001 before moving to New York in 2003 to apprentice alongside his mentor, Max Gimblett.

With draughtsman skills likened to Australia’s Brett Whiteley and a creative output that exceeds most of his peers, the multi-disciplinary artist has participated in an impressive list of sell-out solo and group exhibitions spanning Europe, America and Australia.

In addition to a strong background in street art he employs a sophisticated painterly style, drawing inspiration from the works of Francis Bacon and Egon Schiele as well as popular youth culture and graffiti. High and low culture clash too in the content of his paintings, drawings and installations – boorish superheroes, flirtatious ballet dancers, bad-tempered old masters and imperious vamps raucously coexist at the party rapidly deteriorating inside Anthony Lister’s head.

His work can be found on the walls of everyone from Geoffrey Rush to Hugh Jackman, as well as recent acquisitions from Australia’s National Gallery. In 2010, Lister was named one of the top 50 collectable artists in Australia by Australian Art Collector and has recently undertaken an extensive research residency in Berlin. His work has been featured in numerous publications by Taschen, New York Times, Gestalten and Phaidon.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 7pm.

Lazarides Rathbone, 11 Rathbone Place, London, W1T 1HR

Website: www.lazinc.com/

Also at Lazarides: Jonathan Yeo: The Print Retrospective, on display at Sea Containers on the Thames South Bank until December 20, 2014.

The Photographers 2014 - Osborne Samuel/Beetles+Huxley

Image courtesy of Beetles + Huxley and Osborne Samuel.

Exhibition preview

THE Photographers 2014, a collaborative exhibition between Beetles+Huxley and Osborne Samuel is on display until December 23, 2014.

This major exhibition, which celebrates the variety and influence of photography through the ages, crosses both of these leading London galleries to showcase over 150 important photographs from the 19th century to the present day.

The exhibition displays a range of arresting and iconic imagery from all periods of this groundbreaking medium, including works by legendary photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, Horst P Horst, Walker Evans, Cecil Beaton, Robert Mapplethorpe, Lord Snowdon, Brassai, Bill Brandt, Man Ray, Irving Penn, William Klein, Bruce Davidson, Berenice Abbott, Margaret Bourke White and Edward Steichen.

Previously unseen self-portraits by American street photographer Vivian Maier will be showcased for the first time. During her work as a nanny, Maier took more than 150,000 photographs of the people and architecture of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. She recorded some of the most interesting marvels and peculiarities of urban America in the late 20th century.

Also presented is a rare and unusual group of exploration photographs, including the work of travel photography pioneer Herbert Ponting, who produced some of the most enduring images of the Heroic Age Antarctic Exploration, as well as Frank Hurley’s photographs of the Shackleton Expedition. Featured alongside these are original, rare NASA photographs from seminal space missions.

The exhibition displays significant works by mid-20th century French masters such as Willy Ronis, Brassai, Robert Doisneau and Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose focus on capturing the “decisive moment” exemplifies the innovation of this influential period of photography.

Contempary photographs include those with a particular focus on the natural world, with photographers including Edward Burtynsky, Michael Wolf, Alex Maclean, Justin Blau and Michael Najjar examining mankind’s impact on the landscape. Powerful works by important contemporary practitioners Ruud van Empel, Susan Derges, Julie Blackmon, Nadav Kander and Mona Kuhn are also presented.

Osborne Samuel, 23a Bruton Street, London, W1J 6QG www.osbornesamuel.com/

Beetles+Huxley, 3-5 Swallow Street, London, W1B 4DE www.beetlesandhuxley.com/

The Curiosity Cabaret - The Old Operating Theatre (Old St Thomas' Hospital)

Event preview

IMAGINE an era when surgery was performed without anaesthesia, when aseptic technique and antibiotics did not exist. Imagine a time when doctors still clung to their superstitions and medicine was much more art than science…

Imagine no further. Instead, step into the timeless world of The Curiosity Cabaret where past and present collide head on.

Audiences are invited to prepare their minds and senses for the magical, macabre and marvellous world of medical history. This debut show, set to take place from December 2 to December 7, 2014, is equal parts fascinating and entertaining and promises to be just the tonic for relieving the dark winter evening blues.

Taking its inspiration from Renaissance Europe’s ‘cabinets of curiosities’ – encyclopaedic collections of objects whose categorical boundaries were yet to be defined – The Curiosity Cabaret is a brand new London-based production and is the first ever cabaret in the style of a medical lecture. It is an interactive theatrical experience that will delve into the depths of 19th Century medicine.

Plans are already in place to produce a number of other productions over the next 12 months. Each event throughout the year will have a different scientific theme that will teach people about medical history creating a theatre of knowledge, using storytelling, immersive theatre, music, dance, poetry, cabaret and circus.

The fascinating theme of the first show will be The Science and History of Voice in the 19th Century. Dr Anna Maerker, Senior Lecturer in history of medicine at King’s College London, has a specialist interest in this subject and has created a lecture especially for the show. This will set the tone for the whole night.

Dr Maerker is passionate about her subject and will be spending several weeks with the artists before the show to provide them with the stimulus and inspiration to create new work.

The first piece of work will be showcased in a perfect venue for the purpose; Britain’s oldest surviving operating theatre, dating from 1822. A place of education as well as entertainment, the Old Operating Theatre of the Old St Thomas’ Hospital was used mainly for amputations.

The operating theatre is contained within the Herb Garret, at London Bridge (opposite Guy’s Hospital) a beautiful Apothecary’s museum, and is brimming with medical artefacts that provide a rare glimpse at some of the wonders and horrors of medicine before the age of science. Audiences will have a unique chance to witness the amalgamation of science and art in one of Britain’s most unique pieces of living history.

Audiences will hear about the many weird and wonderfully intriguing medical machines popular at the time. These include the ‘Ammoniaphone’, a device which allowed people to inhale ‘Italian Air’ (thought to be the reason why the country produced so many excellent tenors). This was, in fact, a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, ammonia and peppermint oil.

They will also hear about the exceptionally creepy ‘talking machine‘ known as the ‘Euphonia’. This was a bizarre sight to behold: A machine bearing a wax bust of a disembodied woman’s head that shocked and delighted crowds as it ‘spoke’. Concealed from the visitors were sixteen levers, a small pair of bellows, and numerous little bits of metal, wood and rubber that provided the elementary sounds for words. With a skilled operator it could speak in several languages and even sing God Save the Queen.

The Curiosity Cabaret has been developed by (genuine) medical doctor and circus owner Dr Clive Selwyn (of Dr Clive’s Circus, famed for his immersive circus-infused performance nights) and is co-hosted and co-written by Dr Clive and spoken word artist, writer, and storyteller, Rachel Rose Reid (BBC3’s Queen of the Storytellers) who has had her work commissioned for BBC Radio 3, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Billy Bragg.

Intertwined with fascinating scientific stories, will be bespoke performances from internationally renowned and award-winning composer, lyricist, performer and cabaret favourite, Desmond O’Connor, as well as poet, artist, puppeteer and cabaret delight Zoie Kennedy and hosts Dr Clive and Rachel Rose Reid.

Special guests include the contortionist Bendy Bendini, puppeteer Henry Maynard (Co-director of Flabbergast Theatre and co creator of Boris & Sergey) and the multi award-winning 1927’s actor and storyteller, Eleanor Buchan.

For those with an appetite for the weird and wonderful, this event will truly bring history of medicine to a wider audience, illuminating its dark forgotten secrets and gruesome practices…

Tickets: Available at www.thecuriositycabaret.com/. The capacity of the theatre is only 50 people, so seats will be very limited.

Time: 7.30pm.

The Old Operating Theatre, 9a St Thomas Street, London, SE1 9RY