The Plastic Prometheus Lives on…at MoDiP

4 December 2018
Back on All Hallows Eve, Frankenstein’s Monster was recreated, object by object, by its new masters - the Masters of MoDiP! Eighteen selected pieces from the collection were arranged as a body laid out in the museum, ready to be taken apart both literally and metaphorically.

The body was draped with a white cloth, to show due respect to the newly assembled synthetic soul, as well as for dramatic effect later on in the ‘big reveal’. 

Level 4 and 5 Creative Writing students took up the challenge of responding to this monster collection of MoDiP objects, in two workshops appropriately called ‘MoDiP Meets Frankenstein’ as part of Frankenstein Unbound, a conference to celebrate 200 years since Mary Shelley’s work ‘Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus’ was published.

After being read an excerpt from Shelley’s story, and told some background information about the author and her book, the body was revealed to each class followed by random dissections, as students honed in to learn more. 

The students then settled down to put their initial responses to the MoDiP objects to paper. Some lingered on or returned to the sleeping monster for further examination of what lay before them. 

Using MoDiP objects as stimuli for the imagination - in this case for Creative Writing – is an effective technique and one that lends itself to the Collection particularly well. 

Here are two written pieces penned by students in response to the Frankenstein workshop, together with a short account by another, of how the session – and MoDiP – changed how she viewed plastics: 

Reduced, Reused Lynsey Austin
There are no lightning bolts
Breaking at the stitching
Of the sky:
Its seams still sealed overhead.
There is no maniacal laughter
Itching at my senses –
No unwanted earworm –
While you leave me for dead.

No sirens cry out –
Though I try myself –
Among the inky veins and
Tendrils of the night.
And no help comes
As the day draws first breath
And sets the horizon on fire:
The world alight.

The battle did not happen
The way they always say –
Their predictions awry –
Those prophets of old.
There was no good versus evil,
No right or wrong.
Just patience growing frail,
And hearts turning cold.

Your aid and your friendship,
Perhaps a hand
That would help me stand,
Is all that I would ask.
But instead you turn your back
On me
On us
And pull off your mask.
  They put something inside me
Ellie Grant
They put something inside me. I can feel it every time I move, every time I take a breath. I trace the lines of my ribcage with my fingertips and I swear I can feel it. There. It’s there. Something foreign in the fifth intercostal space. I’d miss it if I wasn’t looking. A small piece of resistance where there shouldn’t be. I lift up my shirt and glance quickly at the mirror. Maybe if I’m fast I’ll see it this time. But this time, just like every other time, there’s nothing there. Just the same unmarked olive skin.

The weird and wonderful from past and present
Tor Maries
The weird and wonderful from past and present can be found in MoDiP! Its display cases of plastic creations were a recent source of Inspiration for my creative writing work. Julia gave us a great insight into the variety and origin of plastics and their impact on the history of design and technology. We examined a ‘body’ formed from different plastic items from different decades. We looked at life-saving equipment, such as oxygen masks and syringes as well as everyday inanimate objects like an old go-kart seat. The Museum and the workshop inspired my work about the future of plastics. It was surprising to realise just how reliant we had become on non-recyclable plastics and how many everyday things, big and small had been designed this way. As plastic pollution in the ocean has become a prominent and mindful issue, I set out writing a short piece of fiction about how plastic pollution could potentially have disastrous consequences in the future if humanity failed to design with new forms of ecological plastics. It was an afternoon of great inspiration!

If you would like to use the Collection at MoDiP for an object based learning session or individual study, please contact me at:

Julia Pulman (Museum Engagement Officer)