NATURAL HISTORIES The Eagle Gallery: Press Release

4 February – 4 March 2011

Mandy Bonnell, Tracey Bush, Mich Maroney
Will Maw, Alke Schmidt, Ruth Simons

An exhibition of artist’s books and mixed media works on paper that explores how contemporary artists are referencing traditions associated with 17th and 18th century botanicals, herbariums and natural histories, to comment on economic and environmental issues.

Mandy Bonnell is currently working on a project based on the collected works of the Victorian botanist Miss Rowe, following a residency at the Alber’s Foundation in 2009. The delicate lines of Miss Rowe’s plant studies are echoed in Bonnell’s hand-coloured drypoints, which have been made as studies towards a large-scale artist’s book.

Tracey Bush’s Nine Wild Plants series examines the correlation between brand recognition and the diminishing knowledge of indigenous flora and fauna. The fragility of threatened species is hinted at in the blue Rizla butterfly that hovers in her tiny paper sculpture The Art of Rolling 2010.

Mich Maroney’s Solstice is a photographic record of a nature reserve on the banks of Deptford Creek. Inspired by medieval books of hours and The Garden Kalendar of naturalist Gilbert White, this contemplative work documents the passing of time through the changing atmosphere of weather, landscape and tides.

Will Maw utilises the book form in his Histoire Naturelle d’Impremerie Economique to posit the impossibility of a definitive image of printed value. Almost 100 digitally printed plates use bank notes as a ground over which to collage myriad visual references. The book reminds one of an age ‘when Europeans sought to encapsulate the world of multiple realities which they were beginning to discover and record.’ (Dr Mark Golder)

Alke Schmidt’s Birds of America series was prompted by the disastrous effect of the BP oil spill on the wetland habitats in the Gulf of Mexico. Working on found pages of a reprint of James Audubon’s famous book, Schmidt traced the original habitats of these species, some now gravely endangered. Intrigued by the shapes of the oil spill Schmidt painted ‘spill’ maps over the ‘rescued’ prints.

Ruth Simon’s ambitious publication Kapa Kapa uses the contradictions of the conservatory plant Medinilla magnifica as a metaphor for human behaviour. Screenprinted in the form of a wallpaper sample book, with 60 images, Kapa Kapa explores migration, invasion and cultural erosion.

For further information please contact the gallery.

2 thoughts on “NATURAL HISTORIES The Eagle Gallery: Press Release

  1. Hi Helen! Thanks for that nice comment! I am giving myself a breather for a month or so and then will be posting again probably concentrating on the Gilbert White/Book of Hours aspects of things. I am doing some work at the South London Botanical Institute where I am hoping to make some drawings from plant specimens GW would have known. Meanwhile I have so much work to be getting on with, going to the Creek was such an amazing source of inspiration. I also have another residency in March (lasting only a week though) on a farm in Essex where where there are ruins of a medieval priory.

    At the moment I am working on a book based on my watercolours which is really interesting and engrossing.

    Will keep you posted of future stuff. Hope you will be able to make it to the Eagle to see the finished Creek book.

    All the best
    The Hermit

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