Botanical illustration is often admired for its beauty and accuracy, which can mask the ways in which the plant was acquired in the first place and the brutality of the war and violence which enabled the plant to be seen, studied, collected and painted.
In the collage Woven Histories, Claire O'Brien weaves together the Fitzwilliam Museum's beautiful watercolour of the plant josephinia imperatricis, named for the French Empress Joséphine, with a commanding image of Joséphine's husband Napoleon Bonaparte. It's impossible to see one without the other.
What can the botany-loving Empress Joséphine, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, tell us about the relationship between science and empire?
Helen Grundy's artwork Josephine Hybrid is inspired by a botanical watercolour in the Fitzwilliam Museum by Pierre-Joseph Redouté. The watercolour depicts the plant josephinia imperatricis, named after Empress Joséphine. In this collage, Helen splices together josephinia imperatricis with a portrait of its namesake.
Carole Bouvier's collage wraps the Fitzwilliam Museum's marble portrait of Queen Victoria in patterns inspired by traditional Nigerian fabrics.
Queen V: the roots of cultural appropriation
Would you consider a pair of glasses to be a disability aid?
Thomas Chandler's collage is inspired by the Fitzwilliam Museum's portraits of Sir John Finch and Sir Thomas Baines by Carlo Dolci.
Finch and Baines, both trained physicians, met while studying at Cambridge in the 1640s. They were inseparable throughout a relationship that lasted 36 years, and were buried together in a joint monument in Christ's College.
A Song Incomplete
Collage with paper and paint
Katy Whitaker's Asylum Zine is inspired by a pair of 18th-century spectacles in the Whipple Museum of the History of Science and the questions they raise around definitions of disability, how these change over time, and who gets to decide who is disabled and who not.
The zine, or mini magazine, is comprised of layers of a historical Ordnance Survey, text from Historic England's National Heritage List for England (seemingly "objective" and "official" records) and contrasts two institutions for patients with mental ill-hea
Our second Live Q&A for Museum Remix: Unheard is your chance to ask our museum experts your questions about the figurine from Naukratis and the British Sign Language alphabet plate.
Live on YouTube: Tuesday 28 July, 12.30pm
- Sade Ojelade, Museum and Collections Assistant at the Museum of Classical Archaeology (MOCA)
- Eleanor Wilkinson, Teaching and Collections Assistant at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA)
and George Doji, Museum Remix host.
In June 2020, the Museum Remix: Unheard project challenged the world to creatively interpret nine objects in the medium of sound.
Journey with us to the windswept Arctic, hear silenced figures given voice, and listen to the ballad of an unsung quarryman...