Discovery: Reimagining Darwin’s World reveals the artists’ distinctive interpretations of Darwin’s investigations and thoughts on the natural world. From tiny details through to sweeping concepts, each artist brings you their own unique insight into the ideas of Charles Darwin: visitors can enjoy a wide range of exhibits including an interactive, mechanical sculpture, exquisite illustrations and 3D prints of our potential evolutionary development.
Darwin’s own account of his travels, The Voyage of the Beagle, as a starting point has inspired a wealth of artistic responses. Here you can try Graham Asker’s addictive The Voyage of the Beagle themed pinball machine and battle against the elements as you travel around the world. Nick Hazzard explores some of Darwin’s ideas that gradually emerge in his abstract paintings with glimpses of images lying behind the swathes of gestural colours. Julie Caves has carried out a detailed observation of an area in London, known as Hollow Ponds in a manner similar to that which Darwin employed on his journey, creating paintings, drawings, an installation and a book all of which reflect her discoveries. Esperanza Gómez-Carrera’s delicate and considered pictorial compositions are a visual analysis of Darwin’s “perfect hurricane of delight & astonishment” during his travels.
Matt Smith explores the process of evolution through contemplating Homo sapiens 2.0 as we adapt and use technology to improve ourselves. Using 3D printing he imagines our potential upgrade. This contrasts well with the traditional illustrative techniques employed by Natalie McIntyre. Her work for this exhibition includes detailed and accurate portraits of insects that draw the viewer in to appreciate their beauty. Meanwhile Jenny Price portrays abstract landscapes inspired by the new horizons, unknown flora and fauna that Darwin would have experienced during his voyage. Peter Lang, inspired by the concept of evolution, investigates the evolution of abstract thought as it applies to subjects such as the Big Bang theory in his colourful and appealing abstract paintings.
The subjects and styles are wonderfully diverse. Ruth Jones considers the meaning and practice of discovery in her exquisite and thoughtful work, Existential Paradox, which highlights the nature and the dilemma of existence in a scientific context. Alice Cazenave, who has a background in molecular science, uses groundbreaking experimental and camera-less photographic techniques to reveal some of the intricate details of the natural world. Former zoologist and science writer Sara Wickenden explores Darwin’s investigations into coral reefs and diatoms through mixed media work created using hot wax, blow torches, hotplates and razor blades in addition to more traditional techniques. Approaching the theme of Darwin in a playful manner, Liz Whiteman-Smith contemplates a possible evolution of the blue footed booby in a modern brightly coloured world with an engaging series of characterful screen prints.
In addition, the artists have each produced a single piece of work based on the Galapagos Ground Finch and these can be seen collectively on the landing between the basement and the ground floor. The artists’ reactions to the theme of Darwin’s voyage of discovery have resulted in a unique, thoughtful and challenging body of work. The exhibition brings together a wealth of complementary artwork and opens up a dynamic and intimate dialogue with you, the viewer. Please join-in by visiting Discovery: Reimagining Darwin’s World. As with other Espacio exhibitions, the artists are actively involved and you will be able to discuss the works with several present at the gallery each day.