So 'The Great Gathering' is safely installed at Colchester Natural History Museum, so attention turns to new work for this years Turn the Page, Artist Book Fair.
I love the circular shape of these cylinders and way they sit inside each other. The content is evolving...
Good Friday 25/03/2016
Easter Icons 2016: Cross Drop
Five Southend-on-Sea artists have designed images to be printed on 500 hand-held crosses.
These crosses will appear overnight around Southend High Street and Seafront to be discovered on Good Friday morning for people to explore, pick up, take.
It's a matter of death and life...
With the work safely installed, it was a pleasure to spend Saturday in the Museum talking to visitors about the project. Some very encouraging comments and reflections from people seeing the books for the first time. I appreciate all the support from friends and to visitors who took time to look at the work.
In the quieter moments during the day, I was fascinated - listening to the sounds around me,and inparticular various comments from children.
While it appeared some adults felt uneasy with the taxidermy displays, the reverse was true form the responses of children. They would peer in close to various animals, thoroughly delighted by the experience. Every now and then there would be gasps of surprise, and excited voices calling to family members to 'come and see this'.
While Museums continually have to balance exhibits that may often be perceived as controversial, the taxidermy displays certainly generated curiosity and excitement for the children. As I child I remember being enthralled by visits to the Natural History Museum, but as an adult now have a wider understanding of these issues. I still love visiting Museums, - they are and always will be places of discovery and wonder.
Changing times as shown by this postcard.
All Saints Church is now the home of the Natural History Museum.
Little has changed on the outside of the building apart from some large trees which cast shadows
in the summer months, but the inside is a complete surprise to the unknowing visitor.
When I first visited the Museum I was struck by the intriguing placement of this huge jaw bone, and the full size shark suspended above the site where the original altar would have been. Attitudes have certainly changed over the hundred and fifty years since the uproar caused by the publication of Darwin's Origin Of the Species in 1859. A local physician at Colchester Hospital and contemporary of Darwin, Charles Robert Bree fiercely opposed Darwin's ideas and is recorded as saying
"Mr Darwin's mind is warped by the necessity of considering everything in human structure as the product of a theory which has never been proved... a theory which is but a cold unsound unphilosophical degrading system of assumed probabilities".
However Darwin's book sold 1,250 copies before lunch time on the first day of publication. It remains in print and has had a profound impact on how we think about our origins. Time may have forgotten Dr Bree but Darwin's ideas are as alive now as when first presented. I wonder how shocked these Victorians would be that a hundred years after the book was published a church building would become home to a vast fossil collection!
Life throws us unexpected twists and turns. These last months have brought a mixture of both excitement and challenges. Consequently I have made some major changes in my life. Alongside all these other events, preparations for the exhibition at the Natural History Museum, Colchester are well under way.
'The Great Gathering' project is complete and on show in the Museum from 5th March - 14th May. The exhibition consists of seven ammonite shaped books. The title refers to our continued exploration of where we have come from, and where we are going. Using the ammonites spiral shape as a starting point these volumes tell the unfolding story of evolution. Responding to both the Museum collection and the building, each book represents a moment of a 4.5 billion year journey. Ranging from black holes (Dark Beginnings), through to the present. The final volume encourages the viewer to think about our 'unwritten' future. We live in an age of science and data. Consequently we are aware of the interconnectedness of the planets life systems and the impact of our actions on earths ecosystems. I hope the work will encourage people to think about some of these issues and to see themselves a part of a bigger picture.
Combining painted pages, text and photos each volume has it's own story to tell. Like the collections held in the Museum, these books are in equal measure able to preserve and/or reveal secrets.