Collecting & Interpreting Human Skulls & Hair in Late 19th Century London
Private view Thursday 7 June 2018
7 – 9PM
Friday – Sunday 8 –10 June 2018
12 – 6PM
The Wildgoose Memorial Library presents LOST BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Collecting & Interpreting Human Skulls & Hair in Late 19th Century London at the Lumen Crypt Gallery St. John on Bethnal Green from 8th – 10th June 2018.
LOST BUT NOT FORGOTTEN is an archive assembled by Jane Wildgoose, which focuses on the late nineteenth century: when human skulls were collected in great numbers for comparative anatomical and anthropological research in museums, while in wider society the fashion for incorporating human hair into mourning artefacts became ubiquitous following the death of Prince Albert (1819-1861).
Bringing together documentary evidence, including letters from suppliers of human skulls in the colonies; diaries, catalogues, hairworkers’ manuals, and examples of Victorian mourning culture from The Wildgoose Memorial Library collection, the LOST BUT NOT FORGOTTEN archive presents a comparative perspective on the ways in which human skulls and hair were treated as object and subject in late nineteenth-century London.
At the heart of the LOST BUT NOT FORGOTTEN archive is the LOST BUT NOT FORGOTTEN hairwork wreath, made by Jane Wildgoose and inspired by nineteenth-century women who made flowers from the hair of family and friends, which they presented in commemorative wreaths with numbering systems identifying the individuals included by name. Jane’s wreath is a work in progress and a commemorative tribute to the “lost but not forgotten” individuals, whose mortal remains were removed - in great numbers and without consent - from colonial burial sites, hospitals, execution grounds and battlefields during the late nineteenth century, in order to be objectified as scientific specimens on the shelves of metropolitan museums.