Sir Peter Blake hand-wrote the foreword for Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy.
Tuesday, 27 August 2013
My granny and grandpa used to live in Littlehampton, by the sea in West Sussex. My godmother would accompany me there for summer holidays. These week-long trips were full of magic and adventure for an 8–12 year-old. I remember an amusement park that boasted magic mirrors and a ghost train, and buying my mum silly souvenirs. I remember being ferried around in a shiny old Daimler and granny wearing gloves in the summertime. I remember sitting and reading for hours on the me-sized window seat halfway up the stairs. But most of all I remember Walter Potter's Museum of Curiosity at Arundel.
Friday, 23 August 2013
On The Death and Burial of Cock Robin: Guest Post by John Troyer, Centre for Death and Society, Bath University
All animal life eventually dies. This much we know. At a certain point in time, the organic structures supporting a living organism break down and ultimately cause death. How we humans then represent that organic death and decide what should be done with our dead bodies is significantly less concrete. Indeed, the human handling of dead human bodies remains one of Homo sapiens greatest inventions. But for the human inventions of burial, cremation, tissue digestion, freeze drying, etc., the dead body would remain where it died, decomposing for all to see. Such unsightliness after dying has become largely controlled in the modern West, and a dignified death can often mean a deceased person’s body was removed from public view before it looked too dead.
Walter Potter’s The Death and Burial of Cock Robin brilliantly illustrates this postmortem human inventiveness.
Thursday, 8 August 2013
Introductory Text from "Guide Book with Educational Notes and References to Potter's Museum, Bramber, Sussex," Third Edition
Thanks to Ben Hard for the copy of the guidebook from whence this was taken!
There's something about being surrounded by dead bodies that adds zest to any storytelling session. Maybe that's why so many of my gigs are beside coffin-filled catacombs (West Norwood cemetery), pickled moles (The Grant Museum), mummified social reformers (UCL main campus) or the irresistable stuffed Ursus Arctos of the Cuming Museum. And maybe that's why I'm such a huge fan of Walter Potter.
I was in my early twenties when I discovered his work. Fresh from a mushroom-hunting hike, buzzing with the elation that could only come from the mossy green sharpness of an early spring afternoon combined with the questionable fruits of the expedition having their assault on what I thought were my senses (but more likely, my digestion). My adventure had ended much too early, and I found myself looking for relief in the campus library with what I loved most-animal folklore and mythology. The library had just unveiled a computer-based catalogue, full of bugs and reliably so, as was most digital technology in 2003. And so, my search for 'Aesopica' resulted in articles about iron deficiency, while 'Baphomet' resulted in archived issues of Better Homes and Gardens from 1950-60, and Beatrix Potter resulted in Walter Potter.