Mütter Museum Interviews Madame Talbot

College of Physicians of Philadelphia

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, located at 19 South 22 nd Street, was founded in 1787 and is the oldest private medical society in the United States. Founded in 1787 it is the oldest private medical society in the United States.

This is the Holy Grail: The birthplace of American medicine.

The Mütter Museum, an American medical history museum, is located inside this National Historic Landmark in historical downtown Philadelphia.

On Sunday, June 13, 2010, I was interviewed by the wonderful folks at the Mütter Museum.

Here is the interview below in its entirety:
Here at the Mütter Museum we are fortunate to have a collection that inspires artists and craftspeople the world over. In our Museum Store we carry some of their creations. From the cute and clever to the genuinely thought-provoking, we are pleased to offer a wide variety of interpretive work. It's a truly symbiotic relationship which benefits both artist and institution.

Since most of these folks are also really interesting people, we thought it would be fun to interview them. It's fitting that our first QÜESTIONS interview should be with Madame Talbot who not only creates incredible medically-inspired one-of-a-kind curios and dolls, but she also created one of our best-selling custom items: the Mütter Museum poster.

QÜESTIONS: An Interview with Madame Talbot:

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do.
My name is Ashleigh Talbot. I am known as Madame Talbot of Madame Talbot's Victorian Lowbrow® and Gothic Lowbrow®

I create One-of-a-Kind Hand-Made Bibelots, Arcane Monstrances, Framed Curios, Mourning Dolls, Dark Objet d'Art and Hand-Illustrated Pen-and-Ink Poster Prints.

I am a reclusive artist and I do not take part in the gallery scene. But I am fortunate that with the Internet I have been able to make a full-time living making and selling my artwork by mail order. I live with my husband and five cats in a 140-year-old haunted house located on the edge of the Oregon Coast.

My main interests are Extreme Crafts, Old School Illustration, Handmade Dolls, Victorian and Gothic History and Strange Medical, Undertakers and Death History.

My website is located at MadameTalbot.com.

I try to post at least once a week on my blog about the projects I am currently working on, which is located here directly on my website.

What do you think motivates your work?
The Fear of Regret.

If your life was a book, what genre would it be?
Victorian/Gothic-Horror with a Medical Nightmare foreword, Undertaker Anatomy footnotes, Gallows Humor Bibliography and a Dedication to Extreme Crafters Everywhere.

What fictional character most resembles you and why?
Victor Frankenstein, the ultimate Extreme Crafter.

What non-fictional character most resembles you and why?
František Rint, the woodcarver who was employed by the Schwarzenberg family to put the human bone heaps of plague victims in a fashionable sort of order at what is known as The Sedlec Ossuary in Sedlec, a suburb of Kutná Hora located in the Czech Republic.

Frederik Ruysch, the Dutch anatomist who made incredible developments in anatomical preservation as well as creating dioramas and scenes incorporating human parts.

What's your poison?
Consumable: Strong coffee with a hint of milk, and chocolate cocoa-dusted Belgian truffles. Non-consumable: Non-fiction books, specifically topics from the Victorian-era or older.

What is the last song you had on repeat?
Thunder and Rain - a half hour mp3 of just rain and thunder. We don't have much thunder here on the North Coast. www.rainymood.com

Name three things that scare you.
-- Hypodermic Needles.
-- The sudden sight of my own blood flowing from an accidental cut.
-- Bees. While I was asleep a few years ago, I awoke with an angry bee caught in my hair, and in my frantic attempt to get it out, it stung me while I was half asleep. Nothing like waking up to the feeling of a bee sting to the back of your head!

In your opinion, what is the greatest invention that has occurred in your lifetime?
The Mute Button.

If you saw a red door, what color would you paint it?
I would repaint it a lovely shade of . . . red. A red door on a house brings good luck, prosperity, happiness, good fortune, celebration. Also it is the color that is used to ward off mean ghosts and evil spirits.

Direct attack or subterfuge?
Oh, definitely subterfuge.

What's the most rewarding part of your work?
The last line inked on a poster.

If you could influence human evolution, what do you think a good physical trait would be?
Bring back the tail!

How about non-physical?
To be more compassionate towards animals and the earth, to not be so gullible when it comes to organized religion and politics.

How did you first learn about the Mütter Museum?
I found a copy of Transactions of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia By College of Physicians of Philadelphia, published in 1898. Because of my interest in strange medical anatomy, medicine and apothecary, it was chock full of strange and wonderful discoveries.

What is your favorite specimen?
Cephalothoracopagus monosymmetros

How does the Mütter Museum's collection inspire you?
It makes me want to add more to my own collection. I am almost there :)

What's next for you?
Mostly working on posters, my goal is 12 new posters by the end of this year, all of which I have already started. More Foetal Skull Widow Dolls and of course, more framed curio exhibits, one utilizing a human ribcage and a sleeping vampire bat. After that, I plan to work on my own Tarot deck.

In my spare time, I have been working on what I call my Never-Ending book, something I have been researching for over 8 years now. Most of the topics are based on many of my favorite topics: death, bones, anatomy, medical weirdness and medieval apothecary. I am almost done researching it and now I'm starting the writing.

Thanks so much to Madame Talbot for taking the time to answer our qüestions.

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