Plants in and out of Place at Fragile Earth
2:00 pm14:00

Plants in and out of Place at Fragile Earth

  • Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (map)
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Exhibition Opening – 29 June 2019

Fragile Earth: seeds, weeds, plastic crust deals with the most urgent topic of the day: climate change.  It looks at the agency of plant and animal life, romantic notions of nature, human extraction of materials, global networks of trade, production of waste and questions of responsibility.  The exhibition includes existing works from the 1970s to today by 19 artists from across the globe with video, installation, drawing and sculpture. New commissions engage with the characteristics of the Tees Valley.

We have a day of making, exhibition tours, music, Community Lunch plus special guests.  ‘Remarkable Plants’ authors Helen and William Bynum will give an illustrated talk on the plants that shape our world and launch a publication written especially for the exhibition. Our Art Trolley focuses on imaginative activities that support the environment and the future of the planet.

11:00 – 12:00      Curator-led tour of Fragile Earth: seeds, weeds, plastic crust

11:00 – 13:00      Live Illustration of ‘Endlings’ with artist Amy Dover

12:15 – 12:45      The Middlesbrough Winter Garden, a talk by Dr Tosh Warwick,

Research Associate and Heritage Consultant

13:00 – 14:00     Lunch provided by MIMA Kitchen

13:00 – 16:00    Art Trolley and The Barrow activities

14:00 – 15:30    Illustrated talk by Helen and William Bynum

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6:00 pm18:00


  • Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (map)
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Tuberculosis is a contagious, infectious disease. It has been a harsh challenge over much of human history. Now, medics and scientists are grappling with the rising threat of drug-resistant tuberculosis - devastating when combined with HIV.  


That deadly combination has caused significant public health crises in recent decades – a topic which Dr Derek Sloan will explore at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (the “College”), in aone-off public event on tuberculosis: past and present (2 April).  


Dr Sloan will discuss his first-hand experiences of drug-resistant tuberculosis and HIV in South Africa, where he was based as a senior medical officer and tuberculosis lead (for Hlabisa sub-district in kwaZulu Natal) in 2005-6. He will also outline the vital programmes designed to develop treatments for drug-resistant tuberculosis and to speed up treatment times.


In contrast, Dr Helen Bynum will examine the long, dark history of tuberculosis – including how the medical community have managed and mismanaged this brutal killer. She will say that tuberculosis patients were treated initially through rest and fresh air in secluded sanatoria – then later with a cocktail of antibiotics as new medical treatments were discovered.


Ahead of the event, Dr Bynum said:


“Tuberculosis is characterised as a social disease, one that has dogged humankind for millennia. The very mention of tuberculosis brings to mind romantic images of great literary figures pouring out their souls in creative works,  their bodies seemingly consumed by this awful disease. If tuberculous is a disease that at various times has had a strange glamour associated with it, its recent history is incredibly complex too.


“It is of great concern that tuberculosis has emerged again in the developed world, both among the poorest in urban society and in association with another deadly infection – HIV/AIDS. The disease has returned with a vengeance, in drug-resistant form. Sadly its story is far from over.”


While the cases of tuberculosis are at their lowest point in Britain for 35 years, it was estimated that England still has one of the highest rates of tuberculosis in Western Europe with just under 5,200 affected in 2017. In 2017, 34 people died of tuberculosis in Scotland.


Join Drs Bynum and Sloan as they explore tuberculosis – past and present – at this one off event on Tuesday 2 April, from 6PM. Please book through Eventbrite.


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State of the Art Lecture: Spitting Blood at the Dispensary
7:45 pm19:45

State of the Art Lecture: Spitting Blood at the Dispensary

Boerhaave Nascholing Infectious Diseases 2018

I am delighted to be giving an after dinner lecture at the National Infectious Disease Congress in the Netherlands "Boerhaave Nascholing Infectious Diseases 2018".  

On Thursday evening I will explore the rise of the public dispensary movement in early 20th century Britain. These tax-payer funded dispensaries were established after the National Health Insurance Act of 1911. 

I'm focusing on the dispensary, known as the Prevention of Tuberculosis Department at the Royal Hospital for Diseases of the Chest, City Road, London. This dispensary served the people of Shoreditch, Finsbury and Islington South.

I want to talk about getting this initiative up and running, while keeping its many stakeholders (moderately) happy.  

Could the dispensary deliver their goals and improve tuberculosis care in these deprived London boroughs?

TB remains both stigmatising and a disease of social exclusion, problems which the dispensary had to acknowledge and attempt to tackle along with the coughs and night sweats, undernourishment and overcrowding. 

Two days after my talk, 24 March 2018 is #WorldTBDay2018. This year's slogan is Leaders for a TB-free world Would the Dispensary staff have made the grade?

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Botanical Sketchbooks - Ways of Seeing
1:45 pm13:45

Botanical Sketchbooks - Ways of Seeing

Finished drawings are lauded in histories of botanical art, preparatory sketches often get forgotten. We have brought these vivid, spontaneous records gloriously back into the light, in Botanical Sketchbooks as we delved into archives and attics looking for sketchbooks, field notes, notes, personal journals, works on vellum, herbarium sheets and letters and even a drawing on the back of an envelope. Which famous botanist made that one? What stories can these sketches reveal about their creators and the natural world?

We are delighted to be talking about the making of botanical sketches and Botanical Sketchbooks @ilklitfest as part of their Ways of Seeing thread.

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5:30 pm17:30

The William Bynum Lecture - 2016


The History of Medicine Society of the Royal Society of Medicine are hosting the inaugural William Bynum lecture will be held at the Royal Society of Medicine. The William Bynum Lecture 2016 is generously supported by Medical History, Cambridge University Press and the Centre for Global Health Histories at York

After a welcome from Dr Julie Papworth, President, History of Medicine Society, Royal Society of Medicine,  Bill with introduce Dr Chris Renwick Senior Lecturer in Modern History at York.

Chris's lecture will draw on his research which is part of a project entitled, “Biology, Social Science, and History: Past, Present, and Future Interactions”.

This features a group of early and mid-20th century projects involving biologists, demographers, social scientists and medical professionals who  helped to create the modern understanding of ideas such as social mobility. The aim of this meeting is to focus on how these projects have helped to create the modern sense of social democracy and the opportunities that have come with it, as well as why this is important in the history of Britain and the second half of the 20th century.

The lecture will outline and explore the early and mid-20th century scientific foundations for political and social life within Britain. 

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5:30 pm17:30

Joseph I. Waring Jr Lecture: 'Tuberculous Lives, Smollett, Keats, and Orwell"

The Waring Historical Library at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) announces that its annual Joseph I. Waring Jr. Lecture and annual membership meeting will take place on Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 5:30 pm in the Basic Sciences Building auditorium on the campus of the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Helen Bynum will present her talk, “Tuberculous Lives: Smollett, Keats, and Orwell.” This lecture discusses Dr. Bynum’s findings in her book, “Spitting Blood: The History of Tuberculosis.”

Tobias Smollett (1721-71), John Keats (1795-1821) and George Orwell (1903-1950) shared the common fate of so many throughout history: a life lived with, and death from, tuberculosis. The experiences of Smollett, Keats and Orwell span the period from the 18th century to the dawn of the antibiotic age and provide a window onto doctors’ aspirations to treat an incurable condition and patients’ hopes and despairs.

Helen Bynum (Honorary Research Associate, Department of Anthropology, UCL) is a writer with interests in the history of medicine and science. She studied human sciences at UCL and received a PhD from the same institution. Her early career was spent at the University of Liverpool and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. It was while working on the history of LSTM that she became interested in the history of tuberculosis, then regarded as a problem only in poorer countries overseas.

The lecture falls on and marks World TB Day, March 24th, which is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries. World TB Day commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced to the world that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus.

Following the lecture will be a reception to celebrate the Grand Reopening of the Waring Historical Library. Attendees are invited to tour the Waring Historical Library and view the recent renovations, new exhibits, and historical collections on display.

This event is free and open to the public, though reservations are required.

For more information or to RSVP, please contact the library at 843-792-2288 or


Joseph I. Waring Jr. Lecture "Tuberculous Lives, Smollett, Keats, and Orwell"

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6:30 pm18:30

‘Design for Living’: life inside the tuberculosis sanatorium

  • The Florence Nightingale Museum (map)
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“It took me the whole summer to lean that you do not dispose of eight and a half months in a sanatorium just by leaving the grounds. I had had to struggle and bleed to adjust to sanatorium routine and I had to struggle and bleed to adjust back to normal living” wrote the author Betty MacDonald in 1938. Sanatoria were the institutional answer to tuberculosis from the end of the 19th century until the successful outpatient use of anti-tuberculosis drugs in the 20th century, but what was life like inside? And did it work? 

Admission price for all talks £8.00 (Members of the Florence Nightingale Museum FREE) and includes a glass of wine and a chance to view the museum. To book, please contact Stephanie Tyler on or 020 7620 0374.

This lecture is part of the current exhibition The Kiss of Light: Nursing and Light Therapy in 20th-century Britain, generously funded by the Wellcome Trust.

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4:00 pm16:00

'Tuberculosis as a Romantic Disease: Artistic, Historical and Literary Perspectives

'Tuberculosis as a Romantic Disease: Artistic, Historical and Literary Perspectives'

A workshop funded by the Leverhulme Trust

Location: Old Library Building, Research Beehive, Room 2.21 
Time/Date: 18th June 2015, 16:00 - 18:30 

Speakers:Dr Helen Bynum (Historian), 'Tuberculous Lives - Conforming to the Stereotype?’

Anna Dumitriu (Artist) ‘The Romantic Disease: An Artistic Investigation of Tuberculosis’

Dr Helen Bynum, studied human sciences and medical history at UCL and the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, before lecturing in medical history at the University of Liverpool. She is the author (as Helen Power) of Tropical Medicine in the 20th Century, (Kegan Paul, 1999) and co-editor of the ‘Biographies of Disease’ series. In this series, she is author of Spitting Blood: The History of Tuberculosis (OUP, 2012). 

Anna Dumitriu’s work is at the forefront of art and science collaborative practice, with a strong interest in the ethical issues raised by emerging technologies and a focus on microbiology and healthcare. Her installations and performances use a range of biological, digital, and traditional media. She has exhibited in Barcelona, Dublin, Taipei, and London. She is Artist in Residence on the Modernising Medical Microbiology Project at The University of Oxford, and holds Visiting Research Fellowships with the Dept. of Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire, and with the Wellcome Trust Brighton and Sussex Centre for Global Health Research. Her exhibition ‘The Romantic Disease: An Artistic Investigation of Tuberculosis’ premiered in London (2014) and has since toured to Amsterdam and Berlin. It entails an artistic investigation into Tuberculosis from early superstitions about the disease to the latest research into genome sequencing of bacteria.

This workshop is organised by the ‘Fashionable Diseases: Medicine, Literature and Culture, ca. 1660-1832’ project team, a Leverhulme funded collaboration between colleagues in History of Medicine at Newcastle University and English Literature at Northumbria University.

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12:30 pm12:30

Hexham Book Festival

Humankind has always relied on plants for food, medicine, shelter, clothing, fuel and transport.  Focussing on 80 key plants, the medical and scientific historians Helen & William Bynum take us through how humans have engaged with them, from the practical to the obsessional.  The book is lavishly illustrated by hundreds of images of the diversity of the plant world from the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.

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