Ode to Morris’ Zoonotic Wallpaper

Ode to Morris’ Zoonotic Wallpaper

2017, Digital print of hand colored lithograph.
Size variable

Inspired by William Morris’ ornate wallpapers from the nineteenth century. Paris Green and Scheele’s Green’ were colors created with the use of arsenic. The wallpapers were often used in terraced houses, many of which suffered from rising damp. The damp reacted with the arsenic in the wallpaper with tiny particles flaking off. These particles were inhaled, and from time to time a number of people died. People knew of the arsenic in the wallpaper, they knew that it killed rats, but some people ignored the association, believing that it was only harmful if tasted or licked. (Hawksley, 2016) Similar analogies can be made today with attitudes towards certain zoonotic hosts.

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February 28, 2018