1793. The Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Birds shot, plants grown, fossils found, a mummy unearthed and creatures not yet defined – all were placed on a table to be studied and discussed. Each around that table had different interests; some wanted to map the structures of flora and fauna, others worked to understand the volatility of ‘damps’ and more searched for the age of the Earth but all were called Natural Philosophers.
This in the environment that fueled the flames of the Industrial Revolution, brought the first light bulb and birthed many of the institutions which define the North East.
2013. Dawn Felicia Knox along with Irene Brown, Sally Madge, Iris Priest, Isabel Lima, Stephen Livingstone, Katy Cole and Benjamin Lawson evoked this environment in Returning to the Philosophers’ Table, an integrated arts project that was presented at the Festival of the North East in June. It featured art exhibitions at the Lit & Phil and the Gallery of Wonder: Great North Museum along with cross-disciplinary collaborations and events.
This website stands as a dynamic archive of the project with links to the objects, the artists and the work they inspired. Click on a tile that interests you and follow the links through our site, through our project. Many of the images will act as portals – clicking on them will take you to further websites.
This project was funded by the Arts Council England and supported by the Literary and Philosophical Society, The Great North Museum: Hancock, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, the University of Newcastle, the Mining Institute, the Society of Antiquaries Newcastle and the Natural History Society Northumbria.