Sunday, 14 September 2014

BBC covers Royal Holloway's Polar Bear picture

Recently news arrived that Franklin's ship wreck has been located, whoopee ! With no interesting pictures as yet, I assume, journalistic creativity picked up on Royal Holoway's archivist Laura MacCulloch telling in a lovely human interest story that is one of my favourite college traditions.   

The photo above is one of the more notable images that forms a unique Victorian gallery collection housed in the Founders building, where my office is located. (BBC story link below) My Canadian, arts marketing expert colleague Dr Derrick Chong would usually point out the Canadian flag that is being savaged by the left hand bear, symbolic red of human flesh perhaps ? 

The tradition is, that the Franklin Polar bear picture is covered up in May during exam fest, so as not to add additional stress to students taking their final exams. Interesting to note that the hair fashion hasn't changed that much since this black and white photo !

Is the anthropomorphism of vicious polar bears by brands such as Coca Cola appropriate ?
Following media coverage of a pupil on a school adventure to the neo-artic who was killed by a polar bear, I am finding the popular advertising depiction of these impressive beasts as cute and cuddly rather incongruous. In case you are faced by an approaching, hungry polar bear - stand PERFECTLY still - its food tends to run away.

Royal Holloway Picture Gallery in Downton Abbey filming

Oh Yes ! I hear you say - is it the same picture gallery that featured in last years hit ITV Downton Abbey Christmas special as a museum set. Monster super troopers ('big lights' & the inspiration for the Abba hit of the same name) shone down creating an unreal, bright and light feeling that seemed to make it all sparkle. 

With a nearly priceless collection hanging on the walls you might assume that the picture gallery operates as a closely guarded museum. It isn't at all - in fact it has a very central space in College life, that sees it used for exams, graduation, meetings, events, formal dinners and weddings. No dancing or stilettos though !

The history and tradition of the Royal Holloway space is one of the great things about working here - yet in many ways we are a very dynamic, modern university, as evidenced by the ultra modern green sailed facade of the School of Management's Moore building. A bit like Coke's polar bears ?

Royal Holloway School of Management Moore Building