Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Lyric Cranium relocates.

Alas, the LYRIC CRANIUM is no more.....
On September 1st, 2017, I retired from teaching, pulled up stakes, and moved most of my collection to our new home in Ontario. Now the collection resides in many cardboard boxes, and some set up in a single room with a lack of display furniture. So in the meantime, before the vitrines are built and the collection is unpacked and sorted, a selection of it was put on display as an installation piece at the John M. Parrott Art Gallery in Belleville, Ontario, from January 5 to February 11, 2017. For The Agglomeration Imperative (#1) three display cabinets were filled with three site-specific collections that addressed Natural History, Mortality, and The Collector/Archivist.

The Artist's Statement:

My work addresses the accumulation, collection, and possible provenance of the artifacts presented (on loan from The Lyric Cranium collections and archives) and a biographical description of the characters who were instrumental in the assembly of these same artifacts.
The items within these cabinets come from the original collection of The Lyric Cranium and address the history of the Cabinet of Curiosity and the Wunderkammer. The three themes arranged within each of the three vitrines are: Natural History, Mortality, and the Archivist/Collector. Each cabinet functions as a separate still life; a collage of physical objects, ephemera, books, and works on paper. The objects within teeter on the edge between disarray and compulsive order.
             This installation marks the first time that a portion of the collection is presented out of its original context. The Agglomeration Imperative (#1) uses the format of the museum/wunderkammer to describe the very human compulsion to collect and classify. Biographical clues about Homer C. Brunion and Griff Hornan and assistants who worked with them or whose archives they collected can be found alongside the artifacts and collections within the display.

The three cabinets as seen from the hallway.         John M. Parrott Art Gallery, Bellevile, ON
 Here are some details of each cabinet:

Natural History
 Mainly a collection of animal skulls and related material.

 Death-related artifacts and ephemera. Funerary objects and items that address loss, memory, and remembrance.

The Collector/Archivist 
 Personal items related to Hornan and Brunion and their drive to collect and catalogue.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Egyptian Cat Mummy

By Einsamer Schütze - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
The Gayer-Anderson cat, believed to be a representation of Bastet
When Herodotus visited Egypt around 450 BCE, he described the temple of Bast, centered in the city of Bubastis in ancient Egypt, where the New Kingdom Cult of Bastet was responsible for mummifying hundreds of thousands of cats. Many of these mummies survive today and look very similar to the mummy seen here, now in the collection of the Lyric Cranium.

The mummy, prior to the re-introduction of the jewelry.

The mummy with other items in the Egyptology collection. See video below.
The Lyric Cranium mummy (40.2 cm x 10.2 cm x 8.3-10.0 cm) is wrapped in interwoven layers of fine linen or cotton strips and is topped with a clay sculpted cat's head with features painted on its fabric covering. This head contains the cat's skull and the mummy itself contains a mostly-complete cat skeleton. This can be seen in the X-ray of the mummy (see front and side views below).

The cat mummy was originally wearing jewelry including necklaces of pearl, shell, and clay beads, and two gold earrings (restrung and added to the mummy after the X-rays were done). The X-rays also show some oddly in-congruent items under the wraps, as of yet unexplained.

This mummy has been catalogued at the Lyric Cranium as having been found by Asaph Saif al-Haq in 1933 and eventually became part of G. Hornan's personal collection currently on display.

X-ray: courtesy of Dr. M.T. (post-production: D. Morrish)

Head detail. Paint on coarse fabric over clay. (jewelry removed)

Below is a recent video of the mummy in situ at the Lyric Cranium. The original jewelry is in place in this view.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Long overdue Update

The progress of the Lyric Cranium has been ongoing since my last post well over a year ago. Many more items have been added and the density of the collection continues to increase. As of today, the skull wall in the Animalia section looks like this:

Animal skulls along the left wall as you come in.

On the opposite wall, looking toward the entrance one can see part of the ratty collection of bad taxidermy.

Musk Ox

Guard Squirrel. Armed and dangerous.

Detail of skull wall.
  In the other room, the collection is also becoming more dense.

My next blog entry will focus on my newest addition, seen in the above shot........can you find the Egyptian cat mummy standing in the case on the right?

Monday, November 3, 2014

New still life photos.

I have long intended to photograph still life details within the installation of The Lyric Cranium. Here are some examples of the most recent. The focus for most is teeth.

 These last two show some miscellaneous details that fascinate me.



Friday, March 28, 2014

Mini bell jars

As part of the grand scheme of things, the creation of ephemera is one of the goals of my Wunderkammer. Part of that process is to create objects that inspire said ephemera. So these three little bell jars with an enclosed artifact are my latest creations. The art works derived from these pieces are the photopolymergravure prints made from the manipulated photographs that document them (see below). The actual pieces will take their place amongst the scatter of artifacts in the shelves or in the display cases of THE LYRIC CRANIUM. The prints, however, will have a life of their own. One set will be sent to the Biennial International Miniature Print Exhibition (BIMPE VIII), and the remainder of each edition will be available to patrons of the museum.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lyric Cranium Video

I made a quick video in July 2013 which showcased the space as it was at that time with most of the installations in place. More items have been added since, but a new video is still in the works. Please excuse the quality, it was shot with a small hand-held point-and-shoot camera.

As you can see, both halves of the space are fairly well developed at this stage: the traditional Wunderkammer half, and the simple black and white space, inspired by Klaus Oldenburg's Mouse Museum, seen at the MoMA in 2013.

The following earlier video from January 2013 shows it just after the wallpaper was completed but before any objects were in place. It also shows the operation of the secret door/shelf. People love this.....  Please excuse the heavy breathing. :-)

I hope to update this video collection with a new one in the coming months, one with better production values.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Broadside

As one of the first ephemera projects resulting from THE LYRIC CRANIUM installation, my printing assistant, Maria M. and I made this letterpress broadside using some antique wooden type and large lead type from my type inventory. The idiosyncratic words were collected over time and all have very appropriate meaning. The image cut of the figure was a newspaper advertisement and the pupae and moth are hand carved wood engravings for a 19thC entomology newsletter. This broadside was printed in two press runs in a varied edition.

Click image to see the detail.