I am delighted to have contributed a few pieces of work to the new exhibition Bugs at the Groundworks Gallery, Kings Lynn. The gallery seeks to engage viewers with environmental issues through art. Director Veronika Sekeles has created a wonderful space where artists show work alongside a varied and creative programme. These workshops look at how art facilitates discussion helping us to respond to these crucial issues and enabling us to shape the future.
One of the pieces I have submitted - 'A Dangerous Idea' was made in response to an Italian reliquary diptych (1300 - 1350). This beautiful medieval work is on view in the V &A Museum, London (Medieval and Renaissance Gallery, Room 10, case 16). The original work (above) depicts a tempera painting of the Virgin and Child with Saints Blasius and Nicholas; Saints Bartholomew, Mary Magdalena, Urban, Agatha, and Anthony.
The work is small and portable consisting of two panels which open and close like a book. The central area contains several holy relics still in their original wrappings. It was this 'booklike' quality that initially caught my attention. I began to wonder what a more modern interpretation might contain. Religious iconography is less evident in todays world and no longer has that central position it once had. My first thoughts turned toward science and in particular to Darwin.
Using this structure, my response reflects the changing attitudes of the nineteenth century, and the emergence of science. The painted panels of the original diptych have been replaced by the inclusion of On the Origin of Species'. Darwin revolutionised our understanding of the natural world and our place within it. An image of Darwin peers from beneath the bunt pages of his text, while on the opposite panel the inclusion of a mirror brings the viewer into the work. Various natural objects surround the text. A 'spent' match becomes a symbol of this pivotal moment when these theories 'set the world alight', forever changing our understanding of the world.
Also included in the exhibition are four smaller works titled 'Relic". These are a comment on the massive decline of many butterfly and moth species. The central butterfly image was not based on any one species but rather stands as a symbol representing all of those species which once so abundant, are now extremely rare. The butterfly rests on a circular book - part index of the world - its burnt edges a reminder of the destruction of vital habitats around the world. Each piece is contained in a box and slipcase.