Clarke's Cabinets of Cures: Blood, Mermaids and Madness
14 October 2008
Taking inspiration from Wellcome Collection’s rich archive,
‘Clarke's Cabinets of Cures’ by Mark Clarke is a series of
mismatched cabinets with fascinating stories to tell.
Each cabinet is created from disparate reclaimed fabrics and
everyday products to reveal a series of surreal moments in medical
history. An intriguing cast of characters emerge, from the Crimean
War heroine Mary Seacole to the Spanish Countess of Chinchón
seeking a cure for malaria.
Clarke’s Cabinets of Cures: 14 October 2008-25
Private view: Wednesday 22 October 2008, 19.00 (contact
Mike Findlay for details)
Tickets: FREE of charge. No need to book.
Venue: Wellcome Collection, 183
Euston Road, London NW1 2BE
Opening times: Mon.-Wed., Fri.-Sat.: 10.00-18.00;Thurs.:
10.00-22.00; Sun.: 11.00-18.00.
James Peto, Senior Curator at Wellcome Collection comments:
"Mark Clarke's work brings wit, inventiveness and no little skill
to the world of the museum vitrine. His delight in the materials he
finds and in the stories he uses them to convey is infectious."
Mark Clarke commented: “I’m delighted to showcase this work at
Wellcome Collection and have the opportunity to tell the stories,
myths and legends behind these fascinating and colourful
characters. The materials have been sourced from the markets of
Belfast and the skips of Paris, while decommissioned cabinets have
come from the ceramics department of the Victoria & Albert
Museum, porcelain tiles have been derived from the bathroom
department of a local DIY superstore.”
The five cabinets will be on display in the auditorium and
ground floor of Wellcome Collection.
The cabinets and the stories that they tell:
The Countess of Chinchón
When court physicians were unable to treat her malaria fever, the
wife of the Spanish Viceroy of Peru (the Countess of Chinchón)
turned to an alternative native remedy: cinchona bark that later,
farmed in India and Africa, became known as quinine. We see her en
route on elephant-back wearing golden designer trainers in a seed
Hildegard of Bingen
Hildegard of Bingen began having religious visions at an early age
and practised medicine in her role as Abbess of Rupertsberg. Her
main work was on the curative powers of herbs, stones and animals.
Here this 12th-century nun features as part of a felt-worked altar
inside the case of an 18th-century grandfather clock.
The classic shipboard disease triggered by a deficiency of vitamin
C. The cabinet features a Biba Nova scurvy-scarred mermaid basking
on a mirrored seabed of 1930s sequinned fruit.
Mary Seacole is the Jamaican-born nurse who battled against
prejudice and travelled under her own steam and at her own expense
to care for the troops in the Crimean War. She was a character as
exceptional and heroic as her ventures. The cabinet features
Seacole toting her bag of lucky charms in her makeshift field
hospital under a patchwork parasol.
Through history, blood-letting has been used to treat all manner of
ills including madness, syphilis, fevers and love-sickness. The
cabinet features a Revolutionary merveilleuse dripping her way
through an upturned Paris, trying out the treatment and putting on
a ball-of-string aristo’s wig. She is dressed in a Victorian muslin
collar, dragging a World War II nurse’s apron.
Notes to editors
For further details, images, interview requests or to attend the
press private view please contact:
Media Officer (Wellcome Collection)
T 020 7611 8612
Mark Clarke was born in Belfast. He studied visual communication at
Edinburgh University. Based in London, during his career he has
worked in illustration, interiors and film. Last year he relocated
to Bath. He now works out of Widcombe Studios where he continues to
develop his 3D narratives.
Clarke’s work is a mixed marriage of cut-up cultural references
- think Alexander Calder’s ‘Le Cirque’ sculptures, Guy Peellaert’s
‘Rock Dreams’, Joseph Cornell’s boxes, the Tales From Europe’s
‘Singing Ringing Tree’, Eduardo Paolozzi’s ‘Lost Magic Kingdom’
blended together in a modern 21st-century kind of way.
The Wellcome Trust is the
largest charity in the UK. It funds innovative biomedical research,
in the UK and internationally, spending over £600 million each year
to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. The
Wellcome Trust supports public debate about biomedical research and
its impact on health and wellbeing.
The Wellcome Trust's former headquarters, the Wellcome Building
on London's Euston Road, has been redesigned by Hopkins Architects
to become a new £30m public venue. Free to all, Wellcome Collection
explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the
past, present and future. The building comprises three galleries, a
public events space, the Wellcome Library, a café, a bookshop,
conference facilities and a members' club.