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What's new at the Museum

4 Posts tagged with the natural_history_art tag
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Our Blue Zone's Images of Nature gallery welcomed a new temporary Australian-themed exhibition yesterday, showcasing the Museum's impressive 18th-century First Fleet collection of watercolours and drawings.

 

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‘Mr White, Harris and Laing with a party of Soldiers visiting Botany Bay Colebee at that place, when wounded’, Port Jackson Painter/Watling collection. Watercolour, c1790–1797.

 

The British First Fleet arrived in Port Jackson (now Sydney) in January 1788, when 11 ships carrying about 1,400 people landed to establish the first penal colony. Among the sailors and convicts on board were draughtsmen, artists and forgers. They painted and drew the new landscape, its wildlife, and the Eora Nation clans who inhabited the area. Despite their lack of scientific accuracy, the images in the First Fleet collection are some of the most important in the Museum, providing a snapshot of a key moment in Australia's history. They are beautiful, telling images that provide rare natural history and ethnographic records.

 

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Left: Waratah, Telopea speciosissima. Port Jackson Painter/Watling collection, watercolour, c1788–1797. The waratah is New South Wales' official floral emblem. Right: Southern cassowary, Casuarius casuarius. George Raper, watercolour and ink, 1792. This cassowary lives in the rainforest of northern Queensland.

 

In the first rotation of 32 First Fleet artworks on display now, you'll find gems like the cassowary and the well-known Waratah (above), official floral emblem of New South Wales, along with stranger-looking species like the Large pretty pink-winged stick insect below. There are also striking portraits of local tradesmen in the collection - often with dramatic stories to tell. The next selection of First Fleet artworks will be installed in the gallery in April.

 

The 600-strong First Fleet collection came into the Museum as three smaller ones known as the Raper, Watling and Port Jackson Painter collections after the artists whose work they contain. The drawings attributed to the Port Jackson Painter are thought to be the work of several unidentified artists.

 

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Above. Large pink-winged stick insect, Podacanthus typhoon. Thomas Watling, watercolour and ink, c1792–1797. There are almost 150 species of stick insect in Australia.

 

The perspective of the Aboriginal Australian people who had been invaded, however, was not recorded in the First Fleet works. So our temporary exhibition features two newly-commissioned installations by Aboriginal artist Daniel Boyd whose provocative work comments on that ommission.

 

At the end of last year Daniel spent several months as an artist-in-residence here at the Museum researching and creating the pieces that are on show in the gallery now. He was putting the finishing touches to his installations last week.

 

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Above: Australian Aboriginal artist Daniel Boyd unveils his Up in Smoke Tour installation in the Images of Nature gallery. Watercolours, 24 Museum archival boxes. Right, installation detail.

 

Daniel's work comments on the loss of native cultures recorded in the First Fleet collection, particularly on the British perception of Port Jackson at the time and the Aboriginal Australian people. It's the way these historic images obscure the original indigenous identity that interests the artist. His work in the gallery has also been inspired by the Museum's anthropological collection and he features Museum specimen boxes in his installations.

 

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An earlier work by Daniel Boyd. We Call Them Pirates Out Here, 2006, oil on canvas. The work is kept in Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art collection.

 

Daniel joins today's free Nature Live talk about The Art of the First Fleet (7 February) in the Attenborough Studio. And so too does the Museum's special collections librarian Lisa Di Tommaso, whose book explores The Art of the First Fleet. So pop along to the Darwin Centre's Attenborough Studio at 14.30 to hear and see more of these fascinating works first-hand.

 

Browse the Images of Nature gallery slideshow

 

Explore the First Fleet collection online

 

Watch artist Daniel Boyd on video discussing his new artwork and cultural background

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There is a new selection of Chinese watercolours from the 19th-century John Reeves collection on show in the magnificent oak cabinets of the Images of Nature gallery.

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Bird of paradise, 19th-century John Reeves collection. One of several zoological Illustrations on display from today in the Images of Nature gallery

 

The Images of Nature gallery opened earlier in January this year and features a temporary exhibition among the permanent Museum images. The temporary exhibits change annually and this year's theme is Chinese watercolours, namely from the collection of 19th-century amateur naturalist, John Reeves.

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Slow loris and Sacred lotus, also new in the John Reeves collection cabinets in the Images of Nature gallery

The watercolours are too delicate for  permanent display so they change every 3 months, giving visitors the  chance to see about 100 paintings over the year. From today, 11 April, we have the second rotation of beautiful illustrations.

 

Glimpse a few of the new John Reeves zoological and botanical watercolours on display in our Images of Nature highlights slideshow and the new contemporary work (below right) by our Shanghai artist in residence, inspired by the 19-th century Chinese collection.

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Left: Memorialise Memory installation. Right: Untitled. Artworks by our contemporary Shanghai artist in residence commemorate the Reeves collection

The new intriguing piece (above right) inspired by the 19th-century Chinese collection is Untitled. However, I think of it as 'Zebra shopping trolley'. The artist was inspired to create it by everyday objects found in a London supermarket. He stayed in London for 3 months researching the John Reeves collection and the Museum's scientific illustrations. Also catch the artist's video installation Memorialise Memory, commemmorating John Reeves and the original unnamed Chinese artisans who Reeves commissioned.

 

Enjoy the video below which describes his modern response to the 19th-century collection. You can also see it in the Images of Nature gallery.

 

 

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From an introduction to the Reeves collection to dodo painting and wood-block printing, you can also browse our great collection of Images of Nature videos online.

 

Find out about John Reeves in China

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New year, new gallery

Posted by Rose Jan 7, 2011

What nicer way to start the new year than with the unveiling of a lovely new permanent gallery at the Museum.

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Images of Nature opens in 2 weeks time on 21 January and I've just had a sneak peek at the elegantly refurbished gallery, pictured here.

 

Many of the displays and paintings are now in place, the lighting is getting its final adjustments and, although the John Reeves Collection of Chinese watercolours is yet to be installed in its impressive cabinets, the gallery space is looking beautfully grand and nearly complete.

 

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'We're just finishing the installation of the touch objects which have to be anchored to the gallery surfaces, and testing is underway for the interactive kiosks' says Peronel Craddock, Interpretation Manager for the gallery, explaining that 'because the John Reeves Collection paintings are so sensitive to light, these will only be added at the last minute.'

 

As I wander the length of the gallery, I pass by themed areas on either side, such as Inspiring, Recording, Observing, Mapping, Draw it, Modelling, and the majestic cabinets that will house the Reeves Collection.

 

One amazing oil canvas stands out, the huge Great Bustards, Little Bustards (left) by the prolific bird illustrator John Gerrard Keulemans. It literally reaches up from the bottom to the top of the gallery wall.

 

Here are a few more installation snaps of the work in progress in the gallery. Select them to enlarge.
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Next year's star attractions

Posted by Rose Dec 3, 2010

Last week we announced our big attractions for 2011 to the press.


It's going to be an exciting and busy year for us all - we'll have a new permanent gallery in January, our Sexual Nature exhibition opening in February, and the Age of the Dinosaur family blockbuster knocking us jurassic-wards from April.

 

The new permanent Images of Nature gallery will showcase over 110 images of, strangely enough, nature. Among the diverse paintings, illustrations, photographs and modern scientific images, will be 2 very different dodo paintings.

 

 

Watch this video and discover how Dr Julian Pender Hume's newly-commissioned painting of the dodo, Raphus cucullatus, differs from Roelandt Savery's 17-century masterpiece.

 

Both paintings feature together in the new gallery. You can see this dodo video and explore more fascinating dodo details at one of the interactive kiosks in the gallery.

 

hu-yun-500.jpgImages of Nature will also include a temporary exhibition of Chinese watercolours from the Reeves collection and some beautiful contemporary drawings, shown right, from our Shanghai-based artist-in-residence (inspired by the Chinese collection).

 

Discover more about Images of Nature

 

Moving on from the lovely to the lascivious, Sexual Nature opens just in time for Valentine's Day, on 11 February. As you can imagine we're all getting very steamed up about this one. And very happy to welcome Guy the gorilla to the centre stage of the exhibition - as a 'superb symbol of male masculinity' says the press release.

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Guy was last seen at the Museum on public display in 1982, having been donated to us in 1978, following his death earlier that year. Guy was a hugely popular character at London Zoo for over 30 years.

 

Find out about Sexual Nature and book tickets

 

Read the news story to learn more about Guy the gorilla and the Sexual Nature exhibition

 

We've only just announced Age of the Dinosaur - it doesn't open until the spring - but this is going to be BIG and much more of a themed adventure than some of our usual exhibitons. So watch out for more details.

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In the meantime, catch the current exhibitions before they close. Amazonia finishes next week on 12 December and Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year in early March next year.

Above: Guy the gorilla takes pride of place at our forthcoming Sexual Nature exhibition