I recently went to visit This Bewitching Poison at The Royal College of Physicians, and was lucky enough to get a place on one of the curator tours.
A fascinating insight into the history of alcohol use, both medicinally and medically. From the use of spirits as a carrier for suspensions through to the gin graze. The exhibition consisted of historical artefacts as well as paintings including several Hogarth prints but also showed the effects of alcohol on our bodies from a medical perspective.
Ales were the original alcohol in Britain and was seen as a healthy drink as it was drunk by everyone because water remained unsafe to drink in Britain until the 19th century when water became reliably safe to drink in the cities.
Wine was introduced with the Roman invasion around 43AD but was always seen as an upper class drink.
The Dutch monarch William of Orange introduced Gin to Britain in 1688. It then began to be produced very cheaply on a huge scale and became an enormous problem.
Artist Annis Joplin was commissioned to created a film for the exhibition. ‘One too many’ is a filmed discussion of one woman’s experience of alcohol interspersed with snippets of other peoples points of view.