Bone Room Meditations I

January 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

I am in the Osteoarchaeology Laboratory. I have examined the barely existent, translucent scapulae of bats; the almost tool-like wedge of a reddish-ochre coloured pigs skull, the bones of a puffin. Adrienne points out the grooves above the eyes of a fulmar, apparently spaces once occupied by glands that secreted salt (I wonder, do fulmars weep?). The alchemical mantra continues: the cheek bones of a wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) drawn like two threads of sepia coloured cotton, the pike skull, the pollack bones and the pelvis of a stag. Then I open another draw and something really strange appears. A femur, bagged up and labelled, jaw bone, teeth and skull fragments. The femur is beautiful. Polished in appearance and brown like oak, what one appreciates at this range is the fibrous complexity of its surface, layers of material woven into the pattern of growth. I can’t help but imagine a different smell emanating from this particular draw, a kind of charnel odour … but oddly, considering my sudden proximity to animal mortality, my principle emotions are driven by the aesthetic appreciation of the object and by its connection to the hidden frame beneath the skin of my thigh.

P.S. Saw Kate Marsh in the museum today, she had quite a tan!


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