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- Looks at the inspiration of coral since Antiquity to present day - Beautifully illustrated and affordable publication - Images from fine art, scientific drawings, prints, textiles, jewellery

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Foreword Introductory Essay Marion Endt-Jones A monstrous transformation: coral in art and culture Interview Marion Endt-Jones Shared forms in nature: an interview with Gemma Anderson Something Rich and Strange 1 Dmitri Logunov What are corals? 2 Dmitri Logunov Manchester Museum's coral collection 3 David Gelsthorpe Fossil corals in the UK 4 Bryan Sitch and Keith Sugden Perseus, Medusa and the birth of coral 5 Campbell Price Coral jewellery from Egypt 6 Melanie Giles The Danes Graves wheel-headed pin (The Yorkshire Museum) 7 Stephen Terence Welsh Red coral beads, Benin City (nineteenth century) 8 Henry McGhie The Challenger expedition 9 Henry McGhie Sydney Hickson (1859-1940) 10 Marion Endt-Jones Coral shrine from Trapani (c. 1650) 11 Gerhard Theewen Mark Dion, Blood-Coral (2011) The experiment: a recollection 12 Susannah Gibson Living rocks: the mystery of coral in the eighteenth century 13 James Delbourgo Expiscatus! 14 Alistair Sponsel Darwin's theory of coral reef formation 15 Katharine Anderson Victorian coral jewellery 16 Pandora Syperek The Blaschka glass models of marine invertebrates (c. 1860-1890) 17 Carol Mavor The ceaseless seas of magical, miraculous, marvellous coral 18 Patricia Allmer Eileen Agar, Coral, Seahorse (1935) 19 Donna Roberts David Gascoyne, Perseus and Andromeda (1936) 20 David Lomas Max Ernst, Antediluvian Landscape (1967) 21 David Lomas Pipilotti Rist, Sip My Ocean (1996) 22 Clare O'Dowd Mike Nelson, The Coral Reef (2000) 23 Marion Endt-Jones Hubert Duprat, Costa Brava Coral (1994-1998) 24 Marion Endt-Jones Mark Dion, Bone Coral (Phantom Museum) (2011) 25 Marion Endt-Jones Ellen Gallagher, Watery Ecstatic (2001-present) 26 Karen Casper Karen Casper, Underwater Love Meets Primal Futurism: Miss Coral (2012) 27 Marion Endt-Jones The Institute for Figuring's Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef (2005-present) Epilogue Mark Dion Oceanophilia - Oceanocide Contributors Index

About the Author

Marion Endt-Jones is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Manchester.


Coral is hard to categorize. Is it animal or plant, beautiful or monstrous, natural or magical, scientific specimen or cultural artefact? As the Shakespearian title of Endt-Jones's edited collection announces, coral is a complex object with a rich and strange history. Its multiple explanations and connections are something that have continued to infuriate and intrigue scientists as well as appealing to collectors and artists since antiquity. The wealth of contributors to the volume testifies, likewise, to coral's ongoing ability to excite academic interest. It is the rich attraction of this object that lies at the heart of both the successes and the limitations of this set of essays. Coral has been produced to accompany and expand on an exhibition of the same title staged at Manchester Museum from 29 November 2013 to 16 March 2014. As the foreword stresses, it is well suited to the mixed nature of university museum collections and the need to make research open and accessible to a wider public. The book functions as part catalogue, part journal collection, pulling together thirty short, pithy essays and thought-pieces that consider coral from every possible perspective. As one might expect from a set of essays drawn from an exhibition, it is pleasingly object-focused. Endt-Jones provides an introductory overview of the changing history of coral from its supposed classical origins, petrified by the blood of the Gorgon Medusa, to contemporary art responses and its twenty-first-century vulnerability to pollution and exploitation. She then interviews contemporary artist Gemma Anderson about her interest in coral as both an artist and a researcher. There follow a group of essays considering coral within the Manchester Museum collections, written by its curators. First, we encounter coral as a living object, as a scientific specimen, and as a fossil. Next, we are introduced to its importance as both symbol and material in broader cultural artefacts: ancient Roman coins, Egyptian beads, Iron Age jewellery, kingly ornament in nineteenth-century Benin, deep-ocean exploration by the Challenger expedition, the development of disciplines and collections at the University of Manchester itself. Further essays open up the broader cultural significance of coral, with objects and contributors from beyond Manchester. A brooch from the Fitzwilliam Museum allows for the importance of coral fishing and craftsmanship in Trapani, Sicily, to be highlighted, while Sir Hans Sloane's coral-encrusted shipwreck spar points to coral's place within networks of early colonial violence and exploitation. Mark Dion's 2011 work Blood-Coral brings in Renaissance ideas of coral's role in detecting poisoned food, and pre-Raphaelite portraiture shows the Victorian craze for coral jewellery. We are introduced to eighteenth-century natural-philosophical ideas that led to coral being identified as animal rather than plant, and to the importance of Charles Darwin's work on coral as informing his first scientific theories. The ever-wonderful Blaschka glass models highlight the difficulties of preserving a living object within the museum space. Next, essays deal with coral's potent appeal to surrealist artists, philosophers and writers since the nineteenth century as a transformative and boundary object. Coral is key to much-loved stories, from science fiction to fairytale, and has continued to appeal to artists from Max Ernst to Pipilotti Rist. Indeed, it has particularly struck the imagination of contemporary artists. Six essays draw the volume to a close, highlighting how coral's attraction comes fromprecisely the wealth of connections and complexities that the previous essays discuss. The epilogue ends with a list of man's positive and negative interactions with the ocean, 'Oceanophilia/Oceanocide', by Mark Dion. Thus Coral is bookended by the perspectives brought by contemporary art, highlighting how this object's elusion of categories continues to intrigue and appeal. The question of its vulnerability to modern environmental damage is one that floats across the essays, but could have been given more weight. The volume is extensively illustrated, with over half of its pages devoted to images, and excellent photography bringing the objects alive. The images provide an added layer of connection and cross-referencing across the essays as specific illustrations are mixed with ones of broader relevance, some given context through additional short captions. Specimens appear alongside paintings, prints and decorative arts. The addition of an excellent range of featured quotations in amongst the essays and images also serves to show quite how many writers have said witty and interesting things about coral over the centuries. Yet there is a tension at the heart of Coral that speaks to the vulnerability of such interdisciplinary subjects and objects within academia. What the images and quotations serve to connect, the essay organization severs. For a work that is born out of an interdisciplinary approach to an object that refuses categorization, the subjects are oddly separated between sciences and arts as the book progresses. Likewise, the museum curators, scientists, scholars and artists appear in distinct groups of authors. What emerges is, precisely, a volume that is both rich and strange, satisfying and unsatisfying in the breadth and variety, but unconnectedness, of the ideas it offers up. Perhaps coral is just too enigmatic an object for modern disciplines and academic procedures to encompass, too multifaceted to be contained within the format of an edited volume. Coral highlights what wealth can come out of cross-disciplinary approaches to objects, and what appeal they continue to offer. In approaching such objects, the interdisciplinary scholar has become the new polymath, an animal as sensitive to classification as many of its most rich, and strange, objects of study. -- Katy Barrett The British Journal for the History of Science Volume 48, Issue 01 Coral highlights what wealth can come out of cross-disciplinary approaches to objects, and what appeal they continue to offer. In approaching such objects, the interdisciplinary scholar has become the new polymath, an animal as sensitive to classification as many of its most rich, and strange, objects of study. The British Journal for the History of Science Volume 48, Issue 01

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