Week 9 | East is East: 08.03.10



March 8, 2010

“The dome-shaped acoustic amplifier sounded as dubious as the super loud Spinal Tap amps that go all the way up to eleven.”

The Man from Del Monte

Looming deadlines have kept us chained to our desks for most of the week and we don’t expect to shake off the shackles until late next week. Nevertheless, we did manage to attend a lecture at the Bishopsgate Institute on Thursday evening. The lecture kicked-off ‘Building East London’, a series of architectural events curated by the BBC television personality Dan Cruickshank, who introduced the evening dressed like the man from Del Monte. 

The main event was a talk by the English Heritage historian, Peter Guillery, on ‘Silk Weavers Tenement Houses in Georgian Spitalfields’, a subject we are currently researching at the V&A. In fact, many of the silk prints that Peter featured in his presentation have been directly lifted from the museum’s collection. 

Unfortunately, our attempts to talk to Peter about his research were thwarted by a mob of hysterical middle-aged women scrambling for his autograph. From where we were standing, it even looked like the historian was drawing more attention than the bona fide BBC Two celebrity. Who knows, perhaps Andy Warhol was right…

Speaking of Spitalfields

Because no sooner had the sexy historian’s fifteen minutes of fame died down, than it was time for the noise of our own weekly speaking engagement to build up to a…err…bewildering echo.

Central St Martins

On Friday morning we talked to a group of foundation and first year students from Central St Martins about our own research into silk weaving in 17th century Spitalfields. Our ‘work-in-progress’ presentation took place in the V&A’s 300-seater lecture theatre, a ‘magnificent Victorian auditorium’ according to the museum’s website, with a ‘lavishly decorated ceiling’. 

But for us, the most impressive feature in the auditorium was the dome above the speaker’s podium. We were told that if we stood in the correct spot on the stage (actually marked out with an ‘X’), the dome would project our voices without the need for a microphone. 

At first, we were sceptical. The dome-shaped acoustic amplifier sounded as dubious as the super loud Spinal Tap amps that go all the way up to eleven. Even so, we stood in the correct position on the stage, and much to our astonishment, the dome actually works like a microphone.

As for next week’s speaking engagement…well, next week we have nothing in the diary, but screw Andy Warhol, that guy didn’t know what he was talking about. If we carry on at this rate, you never know where our weekly speaking events might take us. We may become sought after keynote speakers by the end of our residency, like Steve Jobs, Tony Blair, and Bill Clinton, or perhaps even Eric Hitchmough from the Coventry conference!

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