Imagine Islington

Curating Imagine Islington

Roz Currie, Curator


During 2015 and 2016 Islington Museum worked on an Arts Council England project, ‘Imagine Islington‘, exploring objects from the museum collection. Three different artists and six primary school classes were inspired by six objects from our collection. The exhibition brings together the six objects and the artworks they inspired, created by the class and artist.

The whole project was experimental and playful -exploring the objects in different ways. We wanted the exhibition to reflect this and included the cast of a pregnant tummy to stroke, body noises to listen to, acetates to look through and rain sticks to play.

The objects chosen by the artists are below, click on the links to see the artworks:

  • A Wooden Water Pipe -This 17th-century water pipe was made from the trunk of an elm tree. It was used to carry water, provided by the New River Company, bringing water initially to houses and businesses in the City of London, and later to Islington.


  • Joe Orton Book Covers -Writer Joe Orton and his partner and mentor Kenneth Halliwell created ‘guerilla artwork’ using books from Islington Public Library Service. In 1962 they were each sentenced to six months in prison for causing ‘malicious damage’ to seventy two library books.
  • Objects found at 53 Cross Street -53 Cross Street, off Upper Street, was built in 1785.  The first owner was Thomas Vernon and many different people have since lived there. During the 1990s, Martin King moved in and started to explore the house, he collected the traces of those who had lived in the house before him and donated them to the museum.
  • WWI Embroidered Postcards -Leonard Mansfield sent silk embroidered postcards to his girlfriend, Margaret, from the trenches during the First World War. Silk cards were manufactured in France from 1900 onwards but became popular throughout the conflict as souvenirs for troops to send to family and friends.


  • Gas-Air Machine -Dr Robert Minnitt developed his first Gas-Air apparatus in 1933 and this refined version in the 1940s which was used until the 1970s. He was known as ‘the man who killed the agony of child birth’, providing pain relief for mothers during labour.
  • UV Light-Therapy Goggles -In the early-20th Century rickets was a very common disorder among children. It was caused by a lack of vitamin D from food and sunlight. UV light therapy was used to treat children in the Finsbury Health Centre. Children would wear these goggles to protect their eyes.


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