The Ink Exhibition


“Ink is all around us, seeping, permeating, spreading. We trust ink to register our births and our deaths. We eat ink, squid and cuttlefish blackening our pasta. We smell the sweetness of ink as it corrodes unforgivingly through ancient parchment. We hear ink as its tackiness is rolled smooth across a printer’s plate. We fear the red ink of the teacher and the black inked border of the mourning card and we are empowered by the permanence of election ink that helps to bring about democracy. We ink our bodies proudly with tattoos to shout out our identity. Others are marked to rob them of theirs.

This exhibition is an eclectic collection of 120 museum artefacts, artworks, texts, films and other items all relating to the history and substance of ink. It is about ink and not merely of ink. With few exceptions, the exhibition draws extensively from the remarkable teaching collections, personal archives and the work of staff at University College London.

Contemporary artworks by Madi Boyd, Samuel Keyte, Ruth Maclennan, Janne Malmros, Jo Volley and Barry Sykes sit alongside a Roman ink well, a fossilised squid, a 15th century German prayer book, a miniature Hampton Court Maze made of ceramic ink, a plastic unicorn and many many more.

Every day a ‘live respondent’ will inhabit the space, including Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson, artist and poet Ansuman Biswas and calligrapher Paul Antonio. They will respond to the exhibition, producing an object that will be added to the ever growing repository of ink.”

And J said ‘why are you going to see an exhibition about ink?’ Well, I’d like to see what he says AFTER the exhibition, I bet he will enjoy it.

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