Trip by bike to the Ink Exhibition


This was at the University of London and I did think the exhibition was interesting (I love ink and I enjoy pen and ink drawing myself so I had to go).

A gorgeous ‘Hermes’ bike saddle in their bike racks (I want one!) I never knew you could get these types.

A Roman Inkwell – apparently they used soot for ink.

Black Pasta – the ink is made from Octopus ink

Parcetamol uses edible ink

Ink can be made from lamp soot.

Registrars use a special kind of blue/black ink for birth certificates, marriage certficates etc. It is also used in passports. You write it with blue and turns black and is supposed to prevent forgery.

Martin Rowson, the Guardian cartoonist was there chatting to the University of London archaeologist helping out with the exhibition.

As a cartoonist from time to time I wanted to have a chat, as I hadn’t met other cartoonists. Then after he was chatting away to the UCL lady helping run the exhibition he went back to his drawing. I was a bit disappointed he didn’t talk to anyone visiting, well, not as far as I could see. Not even a hello. He looked a bit ‘busy, serious and unapproachable’ to be honest and my bf said I ought to have word but I said I wouldn’t bother. If he wasn’t going to talk to anyone visiting the exhibition, why bother to turn up. He could have posted the picture to the exhibition instead.

The exhibition, however, was interesting and even J enjoyed it. But I did find the display was confusing as the numbers of the exhibits ‘were all over the place’ which was really annoying. It was hard to find what they were and they weren’t even labelled – you had to read this leaflet and hunt hard for the exhibit. I think the priority was for the exhibition to ‘look pretty’ but that was a right pain. If I wanted to find a particular item, it was easier to ask someone, and even she had a problem hunting for it and showed me the wrong item!

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4 responses to “Trip by bike to the Ink Exhibition

  1. You really should have said hello. I was happily talkling to lots of other visitors who, observing that I was obliged to work with my back to the room, alerted me to their presence, as I don’t, as they say, have eyes in the back of my head. Enough of the cavil. Let’s talk now. And what kind of cartoons do you do? And do you want to send me some? You can get my email address by visiting the cartoon archive on the Guardian website.
    Otherwise, I’m sorry you got the impression I didn’t want to talk. This was not the case.

    very best wishes

    Martin Rowson

  2. Hello.

    That’ll be my fault for making Martin have his back to the room! The trials of curating in a VERY small space. Glad you are talking now.

    I’m pleased you enjoyed the exhibition though. On the numbering front, it is deliberately not too easy to navigate as I really want to encourage active visitors. Exploration was one of the main characteristics in the establishment of museums and I am trying to keep that spirit going by making the visitor work for their INK experience, be that through talking to others in the room, cross referencing the leaflet, or hopefully discovering their own thoughts, ideas and connections between the objects. Apologies if you just found it disorientating, it is interesting to get the feedback.

    Best wishes
    Simon Gould
    INK Curator

  3. Hello Simon thanks for your comments.

    I was going on to the British Museum afterwards and so we didn’t have a huge amount of time so it was important for us to find things quickly. As I was reading about ancient history I was particularly looking for the ‘old stuff’ although some of the modern exhibits were interesting, particularly the black and blue ink and the dead mouse in formaldehyde. Both of us came back appreciating the history of ink and wanted to know a lot more. I may even do some ‘googling’ of it. There is no end to my geekiness.

    I really didn’t want to miss a thing though, hence it would have been great to have it in numerical order and people who visited later would ‘not be in the way!’. (Some of us ‘awkward Brits’ like ‘our space’)

    What may have been interesting would be to have a simple ‘timeline’ of ‘ink history’, so you could see what say, the Egyptians wrote with, the Greeks, the monks, right through to the 21st Century where we seem to have a great variety of inks to suit every occasion.

    It was good talking amongst ourselves about the objects, that was fun. But where did you get all those objects, were they really all from the University of London and not in the British Museum? If so, I didn’t realise the University had so many exhibits like that.

    Anyway I was glad to go to the exhibition, it was great overall.

  4. Well, I thought as you looked busy scribbling it would be annoying if someone disturbed your train of thought so I thought I better ‘play it by ear’.

    I would have liked to know what pens you prefer to use for cartooning, whether you favour the architect-type drawing pens or the traditional fountain pen and whether or not you sometimes use the computer which seems to be very popular with many cartoonists. Personally I like the good ‘old fashioned’ fountain pen style; the wash gives it more of a ‘handmade feel’.

    I didn’t get to see the picture you did on the day? Where can we see it?

    My main themes for cartoons are: feral motorists, cyclists, road safety, relationships and the environment. Living in Kent in solid Daily Mail country, there is endless source of inspiration. I tend to draw ‘just for fun’.

    I have already made a few small ‘cartoonlets’ and popped them round pubs or cafes in London, because my cartoons have a slightly anarchist/leftfield feel.

    I don’t know any cartoonists in Kent and the only woman cartoonists I have heard of is the one living a few miles from me and she does the cartoon in Country Life but that is all horribly ‘right wing’ for my taste. So I usually go to Orpital Comics in London because there’s a lot of off-the-wall stuff there and off-the-wall people.

    I could pop a few cartoons in for you at your email address.

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