The strains of English folk music, performed on fiddle, accordion and concertina, filled the Crush Hall courtesy of performers from The Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading, as guests moved between interactive stalls which offered a tiny slice of the huge array of activities taking place over the next 10 days.
Organised by SOAS, University of London, the fascinating Living Zoroastrianism stall allowed participants to view a 3,000-year-old Yasna ritual (originating in ancient pre-Islamic Iran) via an immersive VR experience, filmed in Mumbai last year with spherical video technology.
“We are translating parts of the Yasna from the manuscripts,” SOAS’s Dr Martina Palladino said. “For example, I’m working on the Sanskrit translation. At the Brunei Gallery, as well as the Virtual Reality experience you will also see some ritual objects and clothes. It’s very interesting, even for me – I’ve studied these things, but seeing it is another matter.”
Building on research into the Proust Phenomenon, which suggests that odours can evoke powerful memories of past events, Snidge Scrumpin’: Mapping Smell and Memory (University of Wolverhampton) mapped the specific smells that belong to the Black Country and demonstrated the importance of smell and taste for our sense of regional history.
Organised by Queen Mary University of London, The Last of the London was very much in keeping with this year’s theme of 'Origins and Endings', as QMUL’s Dr Nadia Valman explained:
“Our event involves projections on to the old Royal London Hospital building in Whitechapel Road, which is now empty and awaiting transformation into the new Tower Hamlets Council Town Hall. The building, that was once very imposing and powerful, is now in a state of decay. We’re projecting photographs of people on to the building in giant form – quite obscure, ordinary people as well as some famous people – who worked at, or were treated at, the hospital.”