Forensics

Forensics: the anatomy of crime, at the Wellcome Collection London until June 21st, links art and forensic science.

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The Wellcome Building is close to several renowned Victorian murders: Jack the Ripper had several victims in Whitechapel from 1888 to the 1890s

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and the Camden Town murders, recorded by the local artist Walter Sickert

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Just before her 90th birthday last year, PD James invited the Scottish crime writer Val McDermid to take part in an event she was organising at the Bodleian library in Oxford. At dinner afterwards, she admitted she was writing, but not an Adam Dalgliesh novel “Because I don’t want to die in the middle and have one of you lot finish it,” she said, a wicked twinkle in her eye.Life of crime … PD James.

Now, a few months after James’ own death, McDermid, author of Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime, has helped curate this Wellcome exhibition. An important principle of the show is to find evidence from the whole crime, not separate bits; but collecting them together and in the right sequence is an art requiring skill as well as scientific investigation. But it’s so much easier to see the whole by looking back.