Lia Forslund

Royal College of Art: Albertopolis


The Papier Mache Models by Dr. Auzoux

In the history of teaching aids from the Royal College
of Science, we find papier mache models that first
allowed for detailed, three-dimensional
representation of animals and humans. Teachers
often struggled to find enough human, snake and fish
specimens; French Doctor L. TH. J, Auzoux
(1797-1880) found himself particularly frustrated by
the fact that there were not enough real samples
available for his anatomy class. Subsequently, he
began making his own versions, using a secret papier
mache mix. With cork, clay, paper and glue, the
Etablissement du Dr. Auzoux created a reasonably
accurate and incisive glimpse into anatomy that the
students had not previously been able to encounter.
With the right degree of attention, detail and
colouring, Dr. Auzoux had found a way to recreate
delicate structures without the complications of
decay. The models became an instant hit, and were
displayed at the Great Exhibition in 1851.

The Plaster Models by Martin Schilling

The emergence of geometry as a field of study
provided scientists with unprecedented insight into
the mysteries of nature’s laws, which had never
before been explicitly delineated. Practical
operations, like theories of curves, were tested using
mathematical formulas, but it was not until the
introduction of models made of plaster, wood and
metal that the magic of the earth’s golden ratio came
to life. Martin Schilling was a publisher of books
based in Halle, who made a large number of plaster
models for education in geometry and geodesy, two
fields concerned with the shape of the earth.
Schilling’s models were significant for several
reasons, but mostly because they were the first to
leave the ancient science of geometry and enter an
entirely new field of elegant mathematical
representations. By 1911, Schilling distributed 41
series, with a total of 377 mathematical models. The
wisdom and resourcefulness in the physical
manifestation made the models a well-established
part of mathematical teaching at the Royal College of
Science, and across the globe.

The Glass Models by the Blaschkas

One difficulty facing the late 19th century scientist
was how to gain insight into the life of an animal form
so impossibly delicate that it would dissolve outside
of its natural habitat. The exciting demands imposed
by the conservation of invertebrate sea creatures can
be found in the Blaschkas’ desire to replicate and
enhance the unique texture of deep sea creatures
using their knowledge of glass. Leopold Blaschka
(1822-1895) and Rudolph Blaschka (1857-1939) were
Czech glass artists in Germany, who created delicate
ornaments, light fixtures and glass eyes. When
commissioned to make models of sea creatures, the
father and son approached the mysteries of the deep
sea by producing accurate glass models made from
natural resins, metals, papers, glues and. The
Bohemians’ glass sculptures became sought after
objects, procured by institutions across the world,
including the Royal School of Mines and the Royal
College of Science.