Saturday programme: 17 July, 10.30-17.30

10.30: Brian Dillon and Javier Moscoso - Opening remarks
11.00: Walter Bodmer - Why are we naked?
11.40: Coffee break
12.05: Glenn Smith - Whatever happened to Byron's Pool?
12.45: Philip Carr-Gomm - Ordinary heroes: how nakedness can be used to enlighten, empower and entertain
13.25: Lunch
14.25: Jill Burke - Renaissance art exposed
15.05: Michael Yorke - The skyclad ascetics of India
15.45: Coffee break
16.10: Roundtable discussion
16.45: Brian Dillon - Concluding remarks
17.00: Drinks reception
18.00: Wellcome Collection closes

Tickets must be booked in advance.

£30 full price/£20 concession for both days, including refreshments and lunch.

Please call 020 7611 2222 to book.

To accompany our 'Skin' exhibition.

More about the sessions

Why are we naked?
What was the special advantage to humans of becoming naked of hair? Was it temperature adjustment, resistance to parasites, sexual selection, social organisation or some combination of all of these? Were neanderthals naked and what can studying their genome and that of chimpanzees tell us about these questions? Did evolution of dark skin colour have anything to do with nakedness? There are many questions and few definite answers. With Walter Bodmer

Whatever happened to Byron's Pool? A journey into the relationship between naturism and sexuality
Organised naturism argues that social nudity is asexual. The public, and the authorities, remain sceptical. This talk is a personal and historical journey into the experience of naturism and its relationship with sexuality. It suggests that this relationship is more complicated, and that neither extreme view - naturism as asexual or as a 'ruse for randy men' - offers a helpful way forward. The talk concludes that naturist environments could provide a unique place to enhance sexual wellbeing in modern society. With Glenn Smith

Ordinary heroes: how nakedness can be used to enlighten, empower and entertain
How many of us are comfortable enough in our own skins to feel free of any sense of embarrassment about our bodies? Despite the religious, legal and cultural restrictions that surround its display, nakedness has been used creatively by mystics, political protestors and artists for centuries. Today it is also being used by 'ordinary people' to break free from feelings of 'body shame' and from the tyranny of stereotypical ideas about beauty. With Philip Carr-Gomm

Renaissance art exposed: sexual culture and the birth of the artistic nude
Recent research on Renaissance sexuality can be startling: in the 15th century, about half of Florentine men were indicted for sodomy; the term 'courtesan' was coined, in 1501, to describe the naked women attending the Pope's parties. At the same time, a revolution in the representation of the naked body was taking place. Focusing on work by Michelangelo and Raphael, this talk will place the emergence of the Renaissance nude in its cultural context, and ask what effect this new type of idealised figure had on the body image of the viewer. With Jill Burke

The skyclad ascetics of India - better known as naked holy men
A presentation of the story of Vasistha Giri and other Naga Baba. Nineteen years ago a 16-year-old Indian boy called Vasistha Giri, ran away from his family in central India and joined the radical sect of Hindu ascetics called the Juna Akhara. After his first 12 years of training he finally became a Naga Baba - a full member of his monastic order. He must now be 'Digamabara', or 'skyclad'. When not in public he does not wear any clothes but covers his body in the holy ash from his sacred fire. With Michael Yorke

Find out about the speakers

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