If there was a prize for the friendliest of venues we have visited this year, and the one with the largest array of free handouts and the loveliest cloakroom facilities, and the most helpful of reception staff – then it would surely go to the Royal College of Physicians.
Space-age, Grade 1 listed and uber-welcoming, the RCP is currently displaying their permanent collection of silverware, medical instruments, and Delftware apothecary jars in the context of a temporary exhibition on alcohol and addiction: ‘Bewitching Poison’ exploring 300 years of drinking history, and including artwork from Hogarth to Paula Rego.
Select an object from the permanent display (nipple guard? walking stick with secret chamber housing a vial of alcohol? double ended spoon?)
Take a phrase from one of the speakers in the films on display.
Use some of these key words: temper, temperance, dutch courage, gin lane, beer street, spirit, sobriety…
Think about the connections between the bigger social picture and the individual – historically and right now.
Taking the theme of maps – the College Museum and Architecture, its Medicinal Gardens, and the route back to Mary Ward via the derelict Temperance Hospital…
Back at base we shared our writing (see page: Bewitching Poison: Beer Street and Gin Lane) compared notes on our urb-ex’ing sorties, and read from John Healy’s Grass Arena.