news | Wednesday December 18, 2013
That elusive Wigrum (Daniel Canty, translated by Oana Avasilichioaei) has popped up in the Glasgow Review of Books.
Here is a tantalizing excerpt from the review by Calum Gardner, which explores the history of curio cabinets and their relationship to this odd and delightful book of baubles:
The “cabinet of curiosity” was once a staple of the private home of the wealthy eccentric, containing unique and unusual objects from around the globe. When Elias Ashmole donated his collection – by that stage rather larger than a cabinet – to found the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, it contained a stuffed dodo, said to be the last to be seen in Europe. Thanks to the magnanimity of people like Ashmole, objects of private curiosity became those of public education as the modern museum evolved. However, a few in the old style remain … But perhaps the institution which best preserves the spirit of the cabinet of curiosities is the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles, whose miscellany contains dioramas depicting obsolete theories of magnetism, portraits of every dog sent into space by the Soviet Union, and a carving of a scene of a room with figure and furniture all inside the stone of a peach. The museum never admits its own absurdity and anachronism, its dim rooms behind a near-anonymous storefront maintaining the experience that visitors to a private cabinet would have had, that they were privy to a secret history of which the world outside was ignorant. To those who have visited the Museum of Jurassic Technology, the experience of reading Daniel Canty’s Wigrum will be strikingly familiar.
To see a few of the darling illustrations from the book and read selections from its intriguing chapters, also see the latest issue of Geist magazine.