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BOP (2016)

Exhibited as part of 'The Matter of Objects', ArtsTwo, London (26th May 2016) and Barts Pathology Museum, London, (28th May 2016).


Realised with humanities researchers: Natalie Lawrence, Hannah Lee, Ella Kilgallon and museum professionals at Horniman Museum: Helen Merrett, Jo Hatton and Natasha Logan.

‘They never fly, except when the wind blows’. Floating angelic creatures, elevating their exquisite plumes, the birds of paradise have repeatedly been viewed as symbolic and emblematic specimens. Removed from the creature’s reality they continue to be immune from gravity, elementally aerial and unable to land. Perpetually in motion; the birds of a Terrestrial paradise.


Working in response to Natalie Lawrence’s thesis entitled 'Monstrous Assembly: Constructing Exotic Animals in Early Modern Europe', BOP (2016) acts as a gateway to understanding the reflexivity in the ways that birds of paradise skins were interpreted upon their arrival in Europe, after trade in New Guinea. Re-purposed feathers were highly saleable in Europe due to characteristics that made them ‘rare’ or ‘curious’ and the skins were popular within millinery and other forms of ostentatious display. Through the coalescence of historic accounts from the 16th century onwards, the work depicts a time in which birds of paradise were imagined as untouchable wonders. As fragments of information were shaped through networks of exchange, histories of the birds were gradually assembled, simultaneously constructing bodies of knowledge in books of natural history. The consequential material pertaining to these specimens was malleable, the birds became something mythical, an equivalent sense of wonder paralleled by perception today.

The skins of the birds were organised within historical collections including cabinets of curiosity, or Wunderkammer. In BOP (2016) they are assimilated through six pinned cut-outs. Appearing alien, as hung medical objects, they are illuminated by the ultraviolet glow of a lecture projection and steel lightboxes, previously used to visualise x-rays. The lightboxes display examples of skins photographed from the Horniman Museum's natural history collection.

Exhibited as part of 'The Matter of Objects', ArtsTwo, London (26th May 2016) and Barts Pathology Museum, London, (28th May 2016).

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