The Calendar of Things: The Wellcome Collection

An object used in the Live Art performance ‘Cake Hole’ by Tom Estes has been allocated a specific date

– 09 December 2011-



See if you can find it.






The Calendar of Things at The Wellcome Collection.

In response to the call to update Henry Wellcome’s curious collection,

Artist Tom Estes donated an object that was used in one of his Live Art

Performances. The Wellcome Collection is part of the Wellcome Trust,

formed by Medicine man Sir Henry Wellcome, who held such a strong 

interest in human health and body that he gained a huge collection of
medical artefacts hroughout his lifetime. As a contributor, Estes was asked

to deposit a chosen ‘thing’ at The Wellcome Collection. Behind the scenes

the object was catalogued, photographed and labelled, allocated a specific

date 09 December 2011 and placed on public display in a system of metal

shelving and museum display cabinets.


Artist Tom Estes’ contribution to the exhibition ‘Things’ and to Henry 

Welcome’s curious collection is a cookie cutter used in the performance

‘CakeHole’. In the performance ‘Cake Hole’ Estes, dressed as a doctor 

and cut holes in thirty doughnuts. The doughnut holes were then

consumed by theaudience. Much of Estes’ performance work is created in

relation to a specific site. Estes’ performance ‘Cake Hole’ was originally

performed on July 17th, 2010 at The New Lansdowne Club as part of 

ArtEvict. Built c.1699. This Grade II* house is where, in 1845, the Elizabeth

Fry Institute for Reformation ofWomen Prisoners was established.Fry, a social 

reformer, campaigned in the early 1800s for women prisoners to be treated

with greater humility.

Tom Estes comments on his choice of item: 

“My performance work to date has examined the relationship between
work and play, professionalism and amateurism, institutional hegemony
and self- organization. I like the idea of destabilising the view of the art
object as an isolated thing in itself. So I suppose what I find interesting
about including an artefact from a live performance in a public collection
is that it touches on the problem of ‘sustainability’ of Live Art practice,
the preservation of the work, and extending the life of the work beyond
the ephemerality of performance itself. In my practice as a Performance
Artist I am constantly exploring alternatives ways of stretching the
possibilities of live art works and extending the life of temporary, one-off,
site-specific, context-specific and ephemeral live art works, through the
interweaving of documentation with various forms of social networking
in order to reach new audiences.”

Within the Art market collectors and dealers often look at objects for
their monetary value rather than as a vehicle to express and support
particular social values. It is easy to forget that objects that lie so
lifelessly in their museum display cases were conceived for an entirely
different setting and atmosphere. Instead of art for arts sake, this
presentation of a ‘thing’ is based on the view that as an individual item,
the cookie cutter represents part of a larger cultural ethos. Missing are
the other paraphernalia such as the cutting board, the donuts and the
wardrobe of a doctor- not to mention the performer himself. Through
the obvious absence of the other components Estes highlights that the
‘thing’ is a part of a social, intellectual, and not lastly artistic wider whole.


The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to
supporting the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical
humanities. While the breadth of the Trust’s support includes achieving 
extraordinary improvements in health, it also includes public engagement,
education and the application of research. The ‘Things’ exhibition was 
devised by curator Keith Wilson Wilson::

“It is a flirtation with a potentially endless number of other stories that
might exist out there, anchored in the reality of each thing itself.
Members of the public will come with their stories which are there to 
be contested, not least by the objects themselves.”

The Welcome Trust spends around £600 million every year, both in
the UK and internationally, supporting the brightest minds in biomedical
research and the medical humanities. While the Trust aims to tackle
immediate priorities, their independence and long-term perspective also
enables them to support research that will benefit future generations.
This rounded view extends to work on the impact of biological and 
medical research. The Welcome Trust seeks to improve understanding
of the ways science and medicine have developed, and how research
affects people and society today, supporting research in universities
and other academic centres in the UK and in overseas locations as well
as managing their own projects and initiatives.

For those who havent seen a Tom Estes peformance  you are in luck as we have the video by Vago Tedosio of LIVE ART performance ‘Cake Hole’.

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