Magic Illusion

Wellcome magic: Smoke and Mirrors

Fans of magic and fans of psychology will both enjoy a new exhibition being held at the Wellcome Collection in London. Smoke and Mirrors: The Psychology of Magic promises to delve into the science of deception and how this influences our perception.

The misdirection and tricks that magicians use to fool us offer a fascinating insight into human psychology, and it’s unsurprising that scientists have studied magic to help their research into how our minds work and how we can so easily be misled by false ‘truths’, as well as to help explain ‘supernatural’ phenomena.

The exhibition will include regular talks and demonstrations by ‘magician scientists’ who are well placed to show how thoughts and decisions can be influenced by the fallibility of memory and the ‘psychology of forcing’.

Debunking the supernatural

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, visiting spiritualists and mediums became very popular, and many people genuinely believed they were communicating with the dead. This led to the formation of the Society for Psychical Research which began its mission to debunk the spiritualists by exposing their methods as simple magic tricks. They enlisted the help of high profile magicians such as Harry Houdini. A big part of the exhibition explores the popularity of spiritualism, and it features many exhibits dating from this era which explain how the tricks were done.

Mentalism

Another part of the exhibition looks at mentalism – one of my own specialities – and how a magician can ‘make you’ pick a certain card or read your mind. These tricks can be used for more than just entertainment purposes as in the field of medicine, mentalism is useful when creating an effective placebo effect.

For modern magic fans, there are artefacts from famous magicians’ prop boxes on display, such as Tommy Cooper’s Fez, the box Paul Daniels used to cut his assistants in half and a gorilla mask used by Derren Brown in one of his experiments. Other exhibits include spirit photography, psychological experiments, videos, magic sets and even a ghost detection kit!

Smoke and Mirrors runs until 15th September 2019 at the Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE.


Christopher Whitelock
23 Apr 2019

Latest Blogs

Posted by on 8 Sep 2021

Add magic to your Christmas party

I hate to mention Christmas when we’ve only just waved goodbye to the summer – but if you’re planning a Christmas party, corporate event or winter wedding, then now’s the time to …

Posted by Christopher Whitelock on 18 Aug 2021

2022: Wedding venues in Essex

Over the years, I’ve performed close up magic at many Essex weddings, and I’ve visited some of the best wedding venues in the county as a result. I thought this would be …

Posted by Christopher Whitelock on 2 Jul 2021

Keep the kids entertained this summer – enrol in Magic School

As if you haven’t had the kids at home enough this year, the long school holiday is almost upon us! If you’re looking for ideas for ways to keep them busy over …

Celebrity Clientele

The best magician I have ever seen, producing fire one moment then a block of ice the next. AMAZING.

Rod Stewart

Unbelievably, bloody brilliant, astonishing magic.

Sir Paul McCartney

My card was frozen in a block of ice – it’s utter madness but sheer brilliance.

Stephen Fry

I don’t know whether to be amazed or to just burn you at the stake.

Matt Smith
Jeremy Clarkson, celeb

It’s truly baffling.

Jeremy Clarkson
Chris Evans, celeb

All I can say is just WOW.

Chris Evans
Alex Jones, celeb

OH MY GOD! How is that possible?

Alex Jones

Outstanding magic. A magnificent eye catching performance.

Hugh Bonneville

Tonight I witnessed real magic happen right before my very eyes.

Graham Norton

I was captivated from start to finish, exceptional entertainer.

Lewis Hamilton
Sir Ian McKellen

One of the finest purveyors of the magical arts I have ever seen.

Sir Ian McKellen

Utterly Mind Boggling Brilliance.

Michael Ball

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.