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Exhibition showcases fascinating fragments

A fossilised dinosaur, a cod skull and a fork surgically removed from a sailor’s back are among the highlights at a University exhibition.

The exhibition is inspired by the recent gift to the University of artist Eduardo Paolozzi’s colourful mosaic archways, which were removed from Tottenham Court Road underground station in pieces. The wide-ranging exhibition, which runs from 8 December to 24 February, showcases fragments from across the University’s collection.

Shored Against Ruin: Fragments from the University of Edinburgh Collections

8 December – 24 February

University of Edinburgh Main Library

Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm (closed 23 December 2017 until 3 January 2018)

Intriguing items

The fossil of a baby Ichthyosaur – a species of reptile – is approximately 200 million years old.

The partial specimen highlights that palaeontological knowledge is not complete, and that there are many discoveries waiting to be found.

The delicate cod skull was used for teaching in the 1800s. It has been dissected and mounted to show each bone in its head to help students to understand anatomy.

Medical marvel

In 1831, the two-pronged Georgian fork was surgically removed from a Royal Navy sailor’s back. While the angle suggested he had been stabbed, the sailor denied any knowledge of how it came to be there.

A small piece of the fork then travelled across his body and was removed from his neck six years later. It was donated to the University as an example of a notable medical case.

Wide-ranging exhibition

Further attractions include fragments of 2,000 year-old Egyptian papyrus divorce papers, part of a vibrant suffragette belt and a large painting by William Johnstone, one of the first British artists to paint purely abstract pictures.

A plaster maquette from one of Paolozzi’s sculptures at the University of Edinburgh’s Kings Buildings will also be on show.

Public art trail

The exhibition includes a self-guided trail, highlighting art on campus that is sympathetic to the themes of the exhibition. As well as extending the exhibition beyond the gallery, the trail offers a different way of looking at art on campus.

We are thrilled to showcase such a wide range of fascinating items from the University’s collection. Inspired by the Paolozzi mosaics received in 2015, this exhibition questions the nature of a fragment and examines why we care for them, whilst also considering the hidden histories they can tell us.

Liv LaumenechUniversity of Edinburgh Public Art Officer

Related links

Exhibition information

Centre for Research Collections