Adventure and Legacy

Symposium, 2020

Posted on Tue, April 5th, 2022

Convenor-online symposium: De Montfort University, Leicester. U.K.
Keynote Speakers: Alistair Grant and Angus Patterson, authors of the book, ‘The Museum and Factory: The V&A, Elkington and the Electrical Revolution’ (V&A/Lund Humphries, 2018), presented a joint paper, Electro! Two Object Studies in Electrotyping, 19th-Century Design and the Legacy of Empire for 21st Century Museums.
Electrotypes are not benign: the decolonisation of museums is not confined to ‘original’ works. 19th-century Museums collected electrotypes as both drivers internationally of British design as the blueprint of good taste and as powerful expressions of colonial conquest. Two objects from the vast numbers of surviving electrotypes, both produced by the pioneers of electro-metallurgy, Elkington & Co., show how an interdisciplinary approach to the interpretation of electrotypes can offer today’s audiences a broad, complex, nuanced and relevant context for their creation. The electrotypes of the ‘Perak Royal Regalia’ produced in 1874 and ‘The Apotheosis of Homer: An Electrotype from the celebrated original bas-relief preserved in the British Museum’ produced in 1848 were made for very different reasons but both, historically, help us address key issues being tackled by 21st century museums: industrial innovation, artistic inventiveness, cultural transformation and the enduring legacies of slavery and empire.