8/10 - Our eighth folly to reveal interprets the identity of James Barry

Interpreted Identity: James Barry
Architects: PRP Architects
Showcased at: The Marlborough Sports Garden, Union Street, SE1
Exhibited: 01 - 30 June

PRP Architects has represented James Barry as part of Interpreted Identities, a month-long campaign in conjunction with the London Festival of Architecture. 

Dr James Miranda Steuart Barry, (born Margaret Ann Bulkley) was a military surgeon who oversaw military hospitals, obtaining the rank of Inspector General, the second highest medical office in the British Army. A respected practitioner, Barry improved the hospital conditions for many hospitalized soldiers.

The biggest revelation about Barry's life, however, came posthumously. After living all her adult life as a man, it only became known that Barry was a woman after her death. 

"James Barry’s life story is to this day one of mystery and controversy. What we found fascinating was her perseverance in creating a different physical identity to enable her intellectual identity to flourish," said PRP Architects. "Even though her contribution to feminism was only triggered post-mortem, the life-long deception generated, alongside a captivating story, a shift in society’s perception of genre-specific professions. She made remarkable contributions to medicine in the early 19th century and set the scene for women practising it later on."

"The installation portrays the dual identity of James Barry and Margaret Bulkley by exploring optical illusion and visual deception. It interprets how the same intellectual capabilities are forced to generate different outputs when filtered through societal preconceptions."

“It’s fantastic to see the new Marlborough Sports Garden being used for this design challenge” said Tim Wood, Chair of BOST. “It's also been wonderful working alongside the LFA to celebrate these unsung local heroes whose stories we are proud to tell.”

Each day we will be showcasing a ‘folly’, so watch this space for the reveals and of course come and see all ten from 01 June - 30 June.

To find out more about the Interpreted Identities design challenge, click here.

For more information on the designers or follies please contact: Concrete Communications olivia@concretecomms.com

PRP is a long-established architectural firm with over 100 awards to its name. An interdisciplinary practice, we offer a full range of design and building services including masterplanning, urban design, landscape, planning, interior design and development consultancy.

Olivia Mudie