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Emotional Objects: From Lost Amulets to Found Photos

Monday 20th November, 2017

2-5pm and 6-9pm, Royal College of Nursing, 20 Cavendish Square, W1G 0RN

A lost necklace received as a gift from a loved one, a stash of photographs found in a dusty attic… What objects are you emotionally attached to, and what feelings do they conjure up? Explore your emotions and how they are shaped by the objects around you at this drop-in event at the Royal College of Nursing, run by the Centre for the History of the Emotions as part of the Being Human Festival. Find out about gut feelings, add your emotional talismans to our display and explore your emotions and how they are shaped by objects through a series of drop-in activities. Attend short talks covering everything from fetishes to the hidden objects found in houses. This event will run in two sessions: 2-5pm and 6-9pm (talks in the evening only). Booking is essential and available on the Being Human website.

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Emotional Talismans
Do you carry an object with you that has emotional meaning? Or did you have a comfort blanket or similar item as a child? Bring it with you and we’ll photograph it for our picture wall or you can write a description on a parcel tag for our display. Learn about East End folklorist Edward Lovett and his collection of charms and amulets.

Signs of Life: emotional objects
Puppeteer Mervyn Millar will lead short practical workshops on animating objects that he has brought (but feel free to bring your own too). Emotions will be provided by the participants. Workshops will last about half an hour and will have limited numbers.

Invoking Memories: Sense of Place
Encounter objects designed to provoke an emotional response and evoke memories with artist Georgie Fay. Learn how to make monoprints of your important remembered spaces which will be displayed at the event.

Sentiment or sensation? Using historical images (2-5pm only)
In the digital era, historical images of people can be circulated more widely than ever before. In this workshop, participants will be asked for their thoughts on a range of historic images that have been re-used in various ways – from advertising wine to being transformed into video game characters. What are the ethical issues of such re-use? And how do they make us feel?

Please note that we will be using some medical photographs in this workshop; participants can choose whether or not they wish to see these. Workshops will last about half an hour and will have limited numbers. Under-18s will need permission from a parent or guardian to participate.

Gut Feelings

What’s your gut feeling? Our abdomens have long been recognised as sites of emotion, and cutting-edge research into the gut microbiome is bringing us closer than ever to unveiling this mystery. Our emotions and decisions are wrapped up in our digestive systems. Join us as we look at what the gut does for us – from past to present!

Belt Up: Accessories of Care

Reflect on your achievements while making your own belt buckle with the RCN Library & Archive team. Historically, belt buckles (given to nurses as gifts on their graduation) and hospital badges were the only way nurses personalised their uniforms, and these items have strong emotional resonance.

London’s Lost Dead

In 2012, Richard III’s grave was found under a car park in Leicester. But what lies buried beneath London’s streets? Learn about the city’s lost burial grounds and the unexpected places the dead are often found. How might the city and culture change memorial practices?

‘Orrible Objects

Explore a collection of objects now thought of as disgusting, offensive, uncanny, unpleasant and horrifying. How can we transform them into something acceptable and what does this tell us about how ideas of what’s ‘horrible’ has changed?

Do You Have a Theory of Other Minds?

Since the early twentieth century, psychologists have developed tests to see if you can understand the thoughts and feelings of other people.  Come and try some of those tests and consider what it means to have a “theory of other minds”.

Cocktails with Killgrief and Comfort

Explore the relationship between taste and memory with these evocative cocktails from Killgrief and Comfort. Experience Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter in a glass! (£7 alcoholic; £5 non-alcoholic)


Compered by Jules Evans

6.15 Rhodri Hayward ‘Messy Feelings and the Magic of Tidying Up’

6.45 Ceri Houlbrook ‘Hidden in the Home: The Concealed Revealed Roadshow’

7.15 Paolo Gervasi: ‘Fetishizing Memories: Emotional Objects in Literature’

7.45 Hannah Williams ‘Finding the Artists of 18th-Century Paris: Stories in Maps’