Smoke & Mirrors: The Relationship Between Magic & Psychology. The Wellcome Collection's New Exhibition In London

escargot

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#1
Looks good!

Smoke and Mirrors

From the seduction of the 19th-century séance through to the sensationalist stunts of contemporary mentalists, we cannot resist the lure of the seemingly impossible. But why? What can magic and conjuring tell us about the human mind?
The exhibition will cover three themes: The Medium, Mentalism and Misdirection. It's all on the website.

As the Wellcome Trust is a health research institute, all their exhibitions are on a health-related theme. Sometimes the criteria are stretched a bit thin! The health aspect here is psychology which is perfectly appropriate.

Must admit, I am SICK with excitement about seeing this. It's about as perfect a theme as anyone could come up with to interest Techy and me, and totally Fortean!

We will be popping along as soon as we can and will give a full report. There's also a book which I might buy.

The Wellcome Collection is wonderful. It's across t'road from Euston Station, kitty-corner to the right. I use the pedestrian crossing directly in front of the station as it's the safest.

Admission is free and there is always LOADS to see.

They also have a posh/expensive cafe. If you want a cheap hot picnic meal or sarnies/snacks instead you might try Sainsburys at the same front end of Euston Station. At the other front end is M&S Food so nobody's starving. You can eat al fresco in the gardens across from the station.

(I visit t'Wellcome whenever I'm in London. Sometimes I just pop to the Reading Room and choose a book to read for an hour. Once I was so interested in the subject of one I'd picked up that I looked it up to buy and found it was already on my Kindle!
I bet nobody would guess the subject: Sex and the Law.)
 

escargot

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#13
Had nearly an hour at the exhibition today so saw everything but not all in depth.

Absolutely brilliant. You can tell Derren Brown's involved as it's all about trickery and sleight of hand!

Loads of fascinating exhibits including various props for use in séances and a couple of gigantic theatrical posters. It was all a huge business!

The Victorian home-made ouija board was impressive. Someone went to a lot of trouble to contact their own dear departed.

The display of props made especially for fraudulent mediums to con their customers with is astonishing. There are catalogues of them. Highly lucrative!

We also see how sceptics like Houdini and Harry Price laid into the so-called psychics and repeatedly exposed them, with little effect on the industry as a whole.

There are lots of movie clips to watch and listen to. The one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle asserting that he KNOWS Spiritualism is real because he can tell the difference between 'knowing' and 'believing', when we're aware that he believed in fairies - that's just mad.

Loads more to tell about - would it be naughty to scan and post the brochure? Or is it up already on the Wellcome website?

I'll have to go back for another look with Techy.
 
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skinny

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#17
Confession: I've never read a single ACD novel, and I'm an EngLit major. However, after having heard him I think I shall have to begin. Which is your very own favourite, scargy?
 

escargot

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#18
Here's another link -
Smoke and Mirrors

You can see a Houdini poster, Paul Daniels' sawing-in-half box and a spirit clock.

The spirit clock was a prop. It would mysteriously stop at a time predicted by the Spirits.
The exhibition explores the close relationship between fraudulent mediumship and stage magic, which had much in common.

(Strangely, as I was looking at the Paul Daniels box he was mentioned on t'wireless in a rather laboured reference to Boris Johnson.)
 

escargot

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#19
Confession: I've never read a single ACD novel, and I'm an EngLit major. However, after having heard him I think I shall have to begin. Which is your very own favourite, scargy?
I'm assuming you mean Sherlock Holmes stories? :sherlock:

Read'em all over and over as a teenager and learned a lot about life and especially deception!

Doyle based Holmes on Sir Joseph Bell, his former tutor, who was a fascinating character in his own right.

During Bell's time as a doctor in a far-flung corner of the Empire he solved a murder case by examination of the victim's bones. He could tell so much about the poor deceased woman that the locals assumed he must have summoned her ghost and personally questioned it.

When you read the stories you'll see how Holmes is everywhere, even today. Some of the clues that Holmes spots, which a lesser mortal might miss, have passed into folklore. As you haven't read the stories I won't quote any spoilers!

You might try Silver Blaze for starters. You'll learn about Victorian horse racing and will recognise a concept that's become almost Shakeapearianly famous. Don't read anything about it first or you won't enjoy the whodunnit aspect.
 

Frideswide

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#24
A few years back I bought Mr Frideswide a book which has the Holmes and Watson stories, as they were originally printed in The Strand. Tiny letters, weird columns.... it's brilliant!

We spent a happy winter reading them out to each other in front of a coal fire, with whisky to hand!

Bliss it was, utter bliss.
 

Frideswide

Fortea Morgana :) PeteByrdie certificated Princess
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#29
Mr Frideswide has expressed a fondness for The White Company. He obviously has /excellent/ taste!
 
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