Developing Fairnington’s previous research with the Natural History Museum, the exhibited paintings were generated by the research project ‘Birds We Cannot See’. The project involved photographing Birds of Paradise specimens in the collections housed at the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum in Tring and specimens in the National History Museum’s Outstorage Depot in London.
Funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and exhibited in the exhibition ‘Raft’ at Fred, London, this body of work addressed the ways in which systems of taxonomy, representation and display used within the natural sciences produce cultural meaning; and how can paintings based on sustained observation of these systems interrogate and illuminate these cultural readings.
The research process involved Fairnington having regular access to the collections and taking hundreds of photographs using a digital camera. These images were transferred onto a computer where the numerous different shots were collaged together in photoshop. At the outstorage depot the photographic session also involved having scaffolding constructed to enable all levels of the display to be shot.
The importance of this work can be articulated in relation to one particular painting. ‘The Raft’ is monumental in scale and presented an image of the collections unlike any that has previously existed; as deeply compromised, whose meaning has to be continually negotiated between their present day reality and their complex history. Now used almost exclusively for scientific research the collections have become a critical part of our understanding of the limits of the world, its vulnerability and the need for conservation.
Paintings from this body of work were exhibited in the ‘John Moores 23’ (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool) and ‘The Goat’ (Medieval Modern, London), and ‘Malerie’ (Galerie Peter Zimmermann, Mannhéim).
|Type of Research:||Show/Exhibition|
|Your affiliations with UAL:||Other Affiliations > RAE 2008|
Colleges > Wimbledon College of Art
|Date:||08 September 2006|
|Funders:||Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation|
|Event Location:||Fred, London|
|Locations / Venues:|
|Material/Media:||1. Paradisaea raggiana, oil on canvas - 2. Paradisea augusti-victoria, oil on canvas|
|Measurements or Duration of item:||1. 231x104cm - 2. 231x104cm|
|Deposited By:||Mark Fairnington|
|Deposited On:||02 Dec 2009 12:36|
|Last Modified:||26 Sep 2011 13:48|