Gemma Anderson, Mirna Sarajlic, Lindsay Sekulowitz
Lamb Gallery, University of Dundee
18 January to 23 March
The current exhibition in the Lamb Gallery, Drawn from Structures Living and Dead, features the work of three artists alongside items from Dundee University’s D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum. It runs in conjunction with two other exhibitions which share scientific subject matter and which also draw upon local talent.
The exhibition is concerned with biological observation and examination, and draws upon the work done by D’Arcy Thompson, whose theories on “Transformations” were set out in On Growth and Form in 1917, a text that emphasised the importance of mathematical, physical and mechanical structures and matrices in the development of organisms. The exhibition showcases the beauty of scientific drawings and models and shows that contemporary fine art is very broad-based and embraces all things scientific and medical as useful source material.
From the University’s collection come stuffed birds, pieces of bone and teeth, the skeletal foot of a rhinoceros and coral. There are also some sculpted pieces in elliptical, circular shapes placed alongside a wire basket shaped object, all of which were designed as aids to the visualisation of mathematical concepts. These are placed in a vitrine next to some of Gemma Anderson’s works.
Anderson, who studied at Imperial College London, shows work which includes microscope photographs of organisms, etchings of, amongst other things, coral and sculpted models. Anderson’s work is beautifully produced as well as intriguing. The standout works are the fine and delicate “Fano” line etchings, which illustrate “mathematical geometries”. Complementing these are two elegant models in a white opaque glass-like material. In a separate display case are notes and drawings where Anderson explains (with illustrations) the theory of “Isomorphology” as the study of a shared vocabulary of animal, mineral and vegetable forms that number sixteen basic types.
The second artist, Mirna Sarajlic, also uses etching as a medium. She has produced a series of photo-etchings which are bright and sharp and very effective. Her subject matter includes a chimpanzee’s face and two etchings of preserving jars and their contents: an adder and a foetus. Other pieces by her include a series of hand drawn etchings of animals which include a bat, a squirrel and a stoat.
Lindsay Sekulowitz, the third artist exhibiting, was employed as an artist in residence at the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum at the University of Dundee from July to November 2012. Her part of the exhibition is entitled Objects from Memory Systems and comprises three separate strands of work. Metal work artefacts which resemble mediaeval excavated objects of household use such as combs and necklaces, earthenware pottery in tapering and fluted cylindrical vase shapes, and precise ink drawings of skeletons, sea animals and birds.
Three large and impressive paintings by Mark Wright, Unnatural Wonders, complement the Lamb Gallery exhibition in the foyer below. Viewed on the way to the Lamb gallery upstairs, these paintings introduce the show’s scientific and cellular subject.
Also connected to the University of Dundee exhibitions is a show at the Gateway centre in St. Andrews, put on as a collaboration between the St Andrews University and the Willhemina Barns-Graham Trust (located at the nearby Balmungo House ). This exhibition is entitled Mathematical Beauty: the Science and Art of Form”. Mathematical Beauty includes work by Barns-Graham and Will Maclean, both of whom contribute quality pieces. It also contains finely crafted ceramic work by Fiona Thompson and drawings, models and photography by a number of artists, most of whom have had a connection with Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. The exhibition at the Gateway, although small, is diverse, interesting and of good quality.