Blog 3- Material Culture in the City: Water Troughs in Cork City. (Conor Hornibrook, 113454658)

You could easily walk past it, ignoring the delicately carved exterior for the more attractive assemblage of blooming flowers that line its crown, but it is indeed there, a reused relic of an older age. Once an integral part of an interconnected transport network, critical to the movement of people and goods in and out of Cork city, water troughs now stand out dotted among the modern cityscape, functioning as a home for plants and rogue cigarette butts.

 

Map

Fig 1: Map showing location of water troughs in Cork city in relation to a map printed in 1852 prior to the Cork Exhibition. Image Source

Equivalent to petrol stations that accompany motorways, these infrastructural features kept Cork flowing in the late 19th Century, allowing horses to rest and drink before moving on. Today there are 4 remaining examples in the city and at face value they appear to be nothing more than components of an outdated infrastructure, hardly worth a second glance. Within these hollowed limestone vessels however exists the essence of the new modern city,  controlled, rational and ordered. Though many of these troughs did not survive the subsequent expansion of the city, those still standing are a testament to the concept of modernity, strategically placed on important route ways as part of a wider network.

Fig. 2: Water trough on Ship St. with a view of St. Patrick's Church in the background. (Author's Photograph)

Fig. 2: Water trough on Ship St. with a view of St. Patrick’s Church in the background. (Author’s Photograph)

 

 

Fig. 3: Water Trough at Parnell Place. Nowadays the trough has been superseded by the bus station, positioned just beyond the feature. (Author’s photograph)

 

 

Fig. 4: View of water trough at junction of Douglas St. and Langford Row. (Author’s Photograph)

This highly functional feature contains more surprises however. Each example is decorated with identical Gothic design, and “displays evidence of fine stone crafting and carving and is of well-executed design”, surely an unnecessary addition for the object to be practical but an aesthetically appeasing inclusion such as this is an insight into the deeper ambitions of modernity in Cork city, promoting aesthetic beauty through rational functionality.

The implication of this is best realized via the trough at St. Lukes.

Fig. 5: Trough at St. Lukes, with a view of the toll booth and St Luke's Church in the background. (Author's Photograph)

Fig. 5: Trough at St. Lukes, with a view of the toll booth and St Luke’s Church in the background. (Author’s Photograph)

The trough is located adjacent to a toll booth, set to tax farmers and traders on the value of their goods upon entry to the city. Here we see the meshing of administrative and infrastructural architecture into the cityscape and the structured layout of modernity being implemented.

 

Data Sources [Accessed 16th November 2015]:

Blog 3: Material Culture and the Restaurant – Peter Bowen 113302456

The modern idea of the restaurant was supposedly first invented in Paris in the mid-Eighteenth century. Indian restaurants in the UK, for example, have been present ever since the colonisation of India. It now exists as a cornerstone of commerce in the city, a space where people can experience both local and foreign cuisine on a whim. The restaurant is simultaneously a tool of convenience, a social space and a cultural melting pot. Ethnic restaurants can often behave as a sort of portal to another part of the globe, one expects a Chinese restaurant to possess the corresponding theme, to give the patron an atmosphere that helps escape the city around them. Similarly, an Irish pub in Australia would be expected to resemble the local back home.

The restaurant has always been a cultural frontier, where new and exotic flavours are brought within reach, allowing the most rooted people to travel afar, even if it is just a drunk buying a kebab. The restaurant increasingly manages to shrink the world, the need to travel to experience iconic tastes has diminished since their inception. The restaurant has become an embassy of taste.

Even when a restaurant possesses no clear cultural affinity to one place, the decorations will include photos, paintings or ornaments of different locations, or different times. Some have generic photos of a sunny shore somewhere, or a photo of the building back on the date of its grand opening. In a sense, restaurants have always striven towards geographically or temporally distancing themselves from the street outside their door. Below are three examples of cultural icons from different nations, all sat outside a hilltop restaurant in the city of Austin, where despite only having a brief visit, I was compelled to photograph the pieces present.

Description: A bird-of-prey statue of unknown Oriental origin, assumed Chinese. (No plaque nor translation present). Location: Oasis, Austin TX. Date: October 2013. Source: Personal album.

Description: A bird-of-prey statue. Unknown origin, assumed Chinese. (No plaque nor translation present).
Location: Oasis restaurant, Austin TX.
Date: 29th of October 2013.
Source: Personal album.

Description: Statues depicting the Japanese maxim 'See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.' Location: Oasis, Austin TX. Date: October 2013. Source: Personal album.

Description: Statues depicting the Japanese maxim ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.’
Location: Oasis restaurant, Austin TX.
Date: 29th of October 2013.
Source: Personal album.

Description: Bas-relief of medieval knights sallying forth. Unknown origin. Location: Oasis, Austin TX. Date: October 2013. Source: Personal album.

Description: Bas-relief of medieval knights sallying forth. Unknown origin.
Location: Oasis restaurant, Austin TX.
Date: 29th of October 2013.
Source: Personal album.

Blog 3 – The development of modernity- The Typewriter and The Sewing Machine.. Shauna O Brien 113545727

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The development of modernity- The Typewriter and The Sewing Machine

Pic 1: Blue Bird Typewriter. Picture taken from personal collection of objects

 

The typewriter was one of the most important inventions of its time which not only modernized the way in which people communicated but also modernized the work place. It made writing letters and texts easier and led to the rapid expansion of businesses due to the amount of work that could be done each day in comparison to pen writing. However,  not only did the typewriter improve everyday life and increase workflow, they also created many new opportunities for women. Because of the typewriter’s growing popularity in the 19th century, women were given a new opportunity to enter the work place, it gave them new opportunities for clerical work, which provided them with a weekly wage and gave the women an independence that they didn’t have before. It revolutionized how women were accepted into other areas of employment and played an important role in changing the future for women and employment in the city (Cortada, 1993).

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Pic 2: Singer Sewing machine. Picture taken from personal collection of objects

The sewing machine had huge impacts on life in the city, both socially and economically. It impacted from a small scale in homes to large scale in businesses. In the  household the sewing machine meant that women could now sew and make clothes for their families. It allowed them to make items of clothing that was unique and more personal and was far more cost efficient than having to get clothes tailor made, which in turn led to families having more money and time to spend on other things.

The sewing machine led to clothing being mass produced as it was faster than sewing by hand. This meant that factories were established which catered for the growing size of the fashion industry and like the typewriter, led to employment opportunities for women. It allowed clothes to be more available to people and so had an affect on the social aspect of life in the 20th century as people now had access to clothes of various kinds (Cooper, 1976).

Both inventions laid down the foundations of objects that we still use today and has continued to modernize our cities, the most obvious being the personal computer, in which the keyboard layout is still the same as it was over 100 years ago.

References:

  • Cooper, G. R (1976). The Sewing Machine: Its Invention and Development.Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Press.
  • Cortada, J. W (1993). Before the Computer: IBM, NCR, Burroughs, and Remington Rand and the Industry they created, 1865-1956. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

 

Blog #3 Urban Architecture & Material Culture: Public Fountains (Stephanie Coles 113352066)

Trafalgar Square Fountains, London. (Accessed 03/09/15 from my own personal photo collection). The first fountains were constructed in in the 19th century (designed by Edward Lutyens). They were replaced by the two fountains seen in this image in 1939 as a memorial for John Rushworth Jellicoe and David Beatty who were admirals in the Royal Navy.

Figure.1 Trafalgar Square Fountains, London 2015.
(Accessed 03/09/15 from my own personal photo collection). The first fountains were constructed in in the 19th century (designed by Edwin Lutyens). They were replaced by the two fountains seen in this image in 1939 as a memorial for John Rushworth Jellicoe and David Beatty who were admirals in the Royal Navy.                                                                                                                                        

“‘Material culture’ has operated as a ‘litmus test’ to what is going on right now and what has gone before, spatially and temporally” (Tolia-Kelly, 2009). The public fountain is an example of this in the 19th century. The style of many fountains is based upon the dazzling and spectacular styles of Baroque which began in Rome and spread throughout Europe over time. The Baroque style of architecture expressed grandeur, exuberance, drama and awe, and the typical ‘modern’ concepts of beauty, control and power, and the connection to the magnificence of the Roman World emphasized this.

Trafalgar Square Fountains, London. (Accessed 03/09/15 from my own personal photo collection). The first fountains were constructed in in the 19th century (designed by Edward Lutyens). They were replaced by the two fountains seen in this image in 1939 as a memorial for John Rushworth Jellicoe and David Beatty who were admirals in the Royal Navy.

Figure.2 Trafalgar Square Fountains, London 2015.
(Accessed 03/09/15 from my own personal photo collection).
The first fountains were constructed in in the 19th century (designed by Edwin Lutyens). They were replaced by the two fountains seen in this image in 1939 as a memorial for John Rushworth Jellicoe and David Beatty who were admirals in the Royal Navy.

In the 19th century city public parks became a popular characteristic feature of modernity all over Europe, and with some of these parks came the public fountain. Fountains were constructed to be the center-piece of many gardens and public parks, to draw the eye of visitors and to create an appropriate space where one can sit with friends and chat or “accept their beauty with a wistful sigh, toss a coin, take a photo, and walk away” (Rinne, 2010). For example, King Louis XIV built fountains as the central pieces in the Garden a la Francaise  at the Palace of Versailles, depicting gods and goddess’s from Greek mythology as a way of symbolising his power as a ruler and  expressing man’s control over nature (which is another concept of ‘modernity’). From this example a class difference is also visible, as the fountain would be turned on to spray over the French peasants.

The George V memorial fountain, Windsor. (Accessed 05/09/15 from my own personal photo collection). This fountain was also designed by Edwin Lutyens, and was unveiled in 1937.

Figure.3 The George V memorial fountain, Windsor 2015. (Accessed 05/09/15 from my own personal photo collection). This fountain was also designed by Edwin Lutyens, and was unveiled in 1937.

Public fountains were not only constructed to create central beautiful spaces for the elite to socialize, they also had another purpose which was to memorialize someone or something. In figure.2, figure.3 and figure.4 each of these fountains were constructed to memorialize important figures, in these cases John Rushworth Jellicoe and David Beatty and Sergeant Walter Berwick. By using a fountain as a memorial symbol it also gave it an air of importance and would be respected by anyone, wealthy or peasant.

Berwick Fountain, Cork City. (Accessed 10/11/15 from my own personal photo collection). This public fountain was built in 1860 and named after Sergeant Walter Berwick and designed by Sir John Benson.

Figure.4 Berwick Fountain, Cork City 2015. (Accessed 10/11/15 from my own personal photo collection). This public fountain was built in 1860 and named after Sergeant Walter Berwick and designed by Sir John Benson.

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