Three Galleries and a Pillow Fight

My Soul by Katharine Dawson Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

So Saturday was International Pillow Fight Day, it was also international Laura and James culture fix day beginning with a wander round the excellent Brains exhibition at The Wellcome Collection – an exploration into what humans have done over the centuries to brains in the name of medical intervention, scientific enquiry, cultural meaning and technological change – if that sounds like enough to make your brain hurt fear not, it was actually rather brilliant featuring everything from real specimens of Einstein’s brains and trepanned skulls to photographs, manuscripts and medical tools.   The exhibition (which is free I should add) looks not at what brains do for us but what WE have done to this organ in the name of science, religion, eugenics…

There was a beautiful laser etched lead crystal glass formation titled “My Soul” by Katharine Dawson created using an MRI scan of her own brain and this incredible rendition of the entire blood vessel system of the brain created by injecting the capillaries with liquid plastic that fills the blood space and solidifies…

Corrosion cast of blood vessels

The surrounding tissue is then corroded away with acid or alkaline solution, leaving a hardened cast that accurately represents the form of the original vascular system. Amazing and really quite beautiful.

The exhibition runs until June 17 at The Wellcome Collection

Sympathy in White Major – Absolution II 2006 © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd

Then a quick jaunt to the National Portrait Gallery bar for a glass of Prosecco overlooking Trafalgar Square allowed us to nip down down in time to take in the spectacle of International Pillow Fight Day. Culture indeed. From there we went on to the Damien Hirst retrospective at Tate Modern.  Here 25 years of creations are on display reliving many themes which brought Hirst such notoriety including For the Love of God (his diamond encrusted skull) which hilariously we managed to miss altogether because it’s in a separate part of the gallery and we didnt fancy the massive queues when we first went past. This exhibition is seriously popular so if you don’t fancy spending most of the day queuing book ahead. It features all the blockbusters – The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living 1991, in which he suspended a shark in formaldehyde and a room filled with pill cabinets which I wasn’t particularly taken by.   What I did love were the paintings made throughout his career using butterflies and the stunning spin paintings. Definitely worth a visit just for those paintings alone.

Damien Hirst poses next to his painting I Am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds, at the Tate Modern


Tate Modern
Damien Hirst
April 4–September 9, 2012
London SE1 9TG



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