Posted by: henrymcghie | August 31, 2012

Ross’s Gull in exhibition in Oslo













Hello, The last time I wrote I was just about to go to Oslo to see and exhibition I was involved in. We had a really interesting seminar where a number of us talked about our contributions to the project. Artists Bryndis Snæbjörnsdóttir and Mark Wilson talked through the ways in which they created an exhibition. This was no mean feat considering that our contributions are very different from one another, although they share much in common in exploring our understanding of, and conception of, animals. All of our contributions explore the relationship between humans and animals, and the ways that we come to understand animals through a wide variety of images, writing and specimens, and the importance of what was said about them in influencing our understanding of them. I mentioned last time that my contribution is an exploration of the cultural history of an Arctic-breeding gull, Ross’s Gull, once described as ‘one of the most mysterious birds in the world’. Bryndis and Mark presented a case with a specimen of the rare gull that was shot by Fridtjof Nansen, the famous Norwegian scientist-explorer, together with a Norwegian flag and images of the bird and photographs from Nansen’s published writings. Bryndis and Mark found one thing I hadn’t realised before- that the illustration with the bird in the foreground and the ship (the Fram) in the background is based on an actual photograph but with a person occupying the place of the bird. What we were trying to get across is that our understandings of animals are very heavily influenced by our relationships with the people who are saying things about them, and by our imagined views of their environment and history. I think they did a brilliant job!


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