Well, other things might not be happening today, 31st October 2019, despite the premature minting of ‘Brexit’ coins, but Halloween is still on. And, this post, photographs of skeletons on display at the Ipswich Museum, is a little contribution to the general spookiness of the day.
Some skeletons are easily identifiable, but this massive bone arrangement for the Woolly Mammoth has an air of a rocky outcrop about it and I had to take a hard look to figure out what I was seeing.
However, this dramatic looking skeleton caught my attention with the obvious rib cage and the recognisable skull. It was displayed in the post-glacial section of the exhibition, so I guessed it might have been a badger, but I was wrong. It was a beaver. Skeletal remains of beavers are quite common in the fens of East Anglia and this one was found in the peat in Burwell Fen, Cambridgeshire. Sadly, the beaver was hunted for fur and food and finally exterminated in England in the Saxon times. However, recently there have been successful re-introduction programmes in several parts of Great Britain (see Devon Wildlife Trust’s Beaver Project).
After being sidetracked by the Ice Age displays I went off to the Geology Room to find what I had actually come to see, a really, really big skull. The skull of a whale. It was from a whale that swam up the River Orwell in 1811 and died after becoming stranded on Denham Beach.
It is so large it is difficult to photograph and get a sense of its size, I guess its about 3 metres by 1.5 metres. It is also difficult to comprehend what you are seeing especially if marine mammal anatomy is not your field.
Beneath the whale skull were a range of cabinets with skeletons of creatures from modern times. Specimens of mammals, birds and fish are displayed and, although, a casual visitor may not be able to identify individual species, it was not hard to guess the animal from the bones. For example, you would know that this was a skeleton of a primate, but was it a chimpanzee, a gorilla or perhaps even an orangutan?
At first glance you might even briefly think it was an early human skeleton, but the main differences between a gorilla skeleton and a human skeleton are seen in the teeth, skull, pelvis and large toes. That looks quite a jaw and heavy brow on this lady.
Back in my studio and always interested in finding interesting shapes and patterns for my work I took another look at my photographs. The fish, the gorilla and the ostrich bone pictures had possibilities.
The fish skeleton makes for perhaps a better print-like image (top of this post) than a glowing line treatment, but the gorilla skull is transformed with glowing lines into an impressive Halloween portrait.
However, easily the most elegant of all the bones I saw at the Ipswich Museum was the ostrich skeleton and it’s made the best picture.
12 thoughts on “Bones for Halloween”
Bones is quite a change for you. Let’s see how this works out! Interesting ….
Yes, not sure if it is going to really work for me – the late Alexander McQueen along with Damien Hirst have rather done skulls to death!!
I have to say, I remain unconvinced that you’ve found your next niche theme.
I know I definitely won’t be using the gorilla skull, but I think the beaver with its ribcage might yield something. It will be a while before I have a go with the bones as I am still working on a large, intricate scarf using the Iceni horse motif at the moment.
Keep us posted!
Goodness me, what a lot of bones!
Yes, I think those ‘bone collections’ were quite a favourite with Victorian curators when local museums first arrived on the civic scene. Ipswich Museum is very much a mixture of the old, traditional town museum together with some 21st innovations.
Fascinating images and stories that accompany them Agnes. Locally in cliffs and the shoreline waters bay we have one of the richest fossil sites in Australia and internationally very significant. My brother in law is a very keen amateur palaeontologist and has made important finds.
Thank you. Australia is home to such a unique and interesting range of plant and animal life I am not surprised that it has an amazing fossil record as well. Your brother-in-law must be thrilled to find fossils that provide evidence of such diversity. I am pea green with envy.
Very interesting possibilities!
I’m thinking possibly the beaver skeleton.
I’m waiting with curiosity!