Wellcome Collection, Feast


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Feast to Cure Melancholy was an event based on Robert Burton’s book, Anatomy of Melancholy, published in 1621. Audiences discovered how the four humours – melancholy, sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic – were maintained through medicinal recipes in the 17th Century. Pigalle devised and produced the event, as well as the supporting takeaway materials. The event was set within the Wellcome Collection Library, running over two evenings.

Pigalle liaised with the Guardian as media partner, and Robin McKie, science and technology editor, Observer, as the host. The events attracted sold out attendances, with write-ups in publications such as the New Scientist, and blog reviews such as Fine Dining Lovers and My Little Room.

“It was great. Thank you so much for all the effort and the imagination, I thoroughly enjoyed working with you on the project” – Ratan Vaswani, Events Manager, Wellcome Collection


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The audience were handed a character card on arrival, providing them with a 17th Century name, contemporary description of their lifestyle, and a detailed list of their humour ailments. They also collected takeaway gaming cards and personalised prescriptions at various stages.

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They met a housewife, apothecarist and physician, for one-to-one interactions on the qualities of the four humours. These were exploratory exercises towards discovering which of their character’s humours was out of balance, and finding their appropriate cures.

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Pigalle commissioned food artists Blanch & Shock to create four courses, based on the four humours, with the dishes drawn from original 17th Century recipes and ingredients.

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The event lead to a finale reveal with a four-course feast of humours. The audience came together in groups to determine which humour each course represented. At the end of the feast a vote was held, with audiences across both events correctly identifying all four humours.

 “A really interesting evening. It was fascinating and a very clever way to bring to life an intriguing subject”  Audience response


Event photography by Mike Massaro.

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