Jan 2 2011: Five Engraved Plates from an Unknown Nursing Manual (c.1900)

When looking for material to cut up and turn into Robert Holcombe’s fictitious works (all purportedly made between the 1950s and 1970s) I’m purpsefully seeking out badly damaged encyclopaedias, magazines and books: often, the things found seem far too good to destroy without pangs of conscience, so it’s always perversely gratifying to find volumes with water damage, missing pages, bindings that are already falling apart and all the other features that would normally lead to disappointment when seeking out copies of particular books and ephemera. In the case of these five plates, they were among a selection of pages torn out from what I assume must have been a nursing training manual of some sort from the early twentieth century and gathered – along with other random papers, in a brown envelope bearing a postage stamp from the 1950s and a Nottinghamshire address – for some unknown purpose: perhaps study, perhaps a more speculative interest on the part of the person who filed them. The plates themselves show various anatomical samples, ranging from two views of the brain to methods of applying bandages; from maps of retinal and corneal cells to cross sections of the eye-ball. Each is a small work of art in its own right.

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