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metainsecta at centrespace gallery

‘Metainsecta’ at the Centrespace Gallery, Bristol

This exhibition is perhaps closest to my heart as I initiated the whole thing, was the main organiser and exhibited with fourteen other artists. It was a success, with approximately 700 visitors in 6 days! It took two years to gather all of the exhibitors together and, when we opened in August 2008, they had created some really interesting and thought-provoking work. The group went on to show twice again, with some lineup changes, at ‘Meta anatomica’ and ‘Metamarine’.

 

'Metainsecta' Centrespace gallery Bristol

Rose sanderson artist
Illustrations by Rose Sanderson
Liz krcma ceramics
Ceramics by Liz Krčma
Bristol museum and art gallery

Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery

After the success of the ‘Metainsecta‘ exhibition in 2008, some of the group were invited to show their work in the beautiful Bristol museum. It was the ideal venue, surrounded by mahogany cases containing taxidermied specimens that were often over a hundred years old.

 

Bristol museum metainsecta

 

I’d love to show the Metainsecta series in a similar venue again one day. It seems to suit them very well.

Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Open 2010

Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Open Exhibition

In 2010, I was accepted to show in the RBSA Open exhibition. It was good to go back to a city that I know well and to show my work there. The society is also based in the Jewellery Quarter, a very historic and beautiful part of Birmingham and one of the last real trades quarters left in Britain. Almost everything around is connected to the jewellery making trade: assayers, tool suppliers and workshops as well as the jewellery college. It’s a lovely place to go for a wander!

 

RBSA Open

 

Walcot Chapel, Bath

‘Meta Anatomica’ at the Walcot Chapel in Bath

This exhibition could not have been held in a more appropriate location! The Walcot Chapel was once a mortuary chapel and is surrounded by a graveyard, so was the perfect venue for an exhibition about anatomy. In June 2011, the group reassembled to examine anatomical subjects with the same eclectic range of media and approaches as before.

 

meta anatomica

 

Sadly it was the last of the ‘Meta…’ shows, partly due to the illness and subsequent passing of the ceramicist Liz Krčma who had been an organiser, exhibitor and important contributor to the exhibitions since the first show.

Inspired Ashton Court mansion 2013

‘Inspired’ exhibitions at the Hayloft gallery, Ashton Court, Bristol 2010/2011/2013

The ‘Inspired’ exhibitions are curated by the very talented furniture maker Sue Darlison.

 

'Inspired' Ashton Court Bristol

 

The quality of the work by other exhibitors has always been very good indeed, with a particular personal high point being the chance to show in 2013 alongside the renowned furniture maker John Makepeace. He founded Parnham College, which has had a huge effect on contemporary British furniture design.

 

John Makepeace showing at Ashton Court mansion

 

I also had the chance to show there alongside David Colwell, whose environmentally-aware approach to design has also had a huge effect on design in this country, both through his own work and with Trannon furniture.

 

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imaginary animal - crustacean

‘Velocivenator satiei’

What if lobsters or large shrimp had evolved into fast-swimming hunters instead of creatures adapted to a life mainly on the seabed. What would they look like?

 

unusual woodcarving of a crustacean inspired by Erik Satie

 

This sculpture, made between Nov ’08 and Oct ’09, is fairly closely based on macruran decapods (creatures such as lobsters and shrimp) and their cousins the stomatopods (mantis shrimp). Only wood and tagua nut, without any dyes or stains, has been used to make it. I enjoyed revisiting my old studies in Zoology to work out how a realistic creature would look.

 

imaginary creature- a hunting crustacean

 

All the woods used were either found after they had already fallen or are recycled material that would otherwise have been thrown away or burnt. They include:
Cocobolo and Pau amarillo from the scrap pile at a West Country wood merchants,

Juniper from a hill in the Lake District,

Mahogany from the counter of an old Post Office in Bow, London. My friend Molly was born in the flat above,

Cherry from the waste pile at a guitar maker’s workshop in Devon, from Highgate Park in Birmingham and also from a garden in Warwickshire,

Purpleheart and ebony scrap given to me by a cabinetmaker in Devon,

Tagua nut, an ivory-like nut that is a renewable rainforest resource from Brazil or Ecuador,

Holly and boxwood from Devon, courtesy of a tree surgeon friend,

Rose gum offcut from a builder’s skip in New South Wales, Australia,

Beech from the foot of the Totes Gebirge (‘Dead mountains’) in the Austrian Alps,

Black poplar and walnut offcuts from a woodyard in Bristol,

Almond from near a village named San Pedro in Almeria, Spain.

 

hunting lobsters

 

I like to imagine this piece being a specimen in some strange Victorian naturalists’s study. The title means ‘Satie’s fast hunter’ in Latin. In 1913 the composer Erik Satie, who had a taste for the humorous and the surreal, wrote a piano piece about the desiccated embryo of a hunting crustacean.

carved wooden bird skull

Predator Bird’s Skull

After making a few ‘Metainsects‘, I started to think about what kind of predator would adapt or evolve to feed on such ornery little beasties. What would they look like?

 

carved wooden bird skull

 

With an anatomy-themed exhibition coming up, I started to carve a bird’s skull, but one that would eat tough, large and potentially dangerous insects. The skull is quite chunky and crested, so the bird would almost certainly be flightless but probably a good runner. It has a large braincase, so would be smart. The whole skull is about 25 centimetres (approx. 10 inches) long.

 

wooden bird skull

 

The nozzle on the beak would fire a sticky mucus that would disable the defences of the prey. This is adapted from a similar system used by a seabird called a fulmar, which shoots foul-smelling secretions at potential attackers from a similar nozzle over it’s beak. The large beak would then be able to pick apart the prey.

The skull part was carved from a single block of sycamore. The beak and nozzle are carved from a piece of English boxwood. The stand is stained oak and bamboo.

I really enjoyed carving the ‘Predator bird’s skull’. It gave a chance to revisit my studies in Zoology and the anatomy of this skull is based on those of real birds. The different bones shown ‘fused’ to form it match those in nature, albeit with some features (like the crest of bone) added or changed.

Metainsectivore

This sculpture was made in July 2013, to be exhibited in a show called ‘Inspired’ at Ashton Court in Bristol, UK. It represents a mammal that would feed on the hybrid insects depicted in the ‘Metainsecta’ series that I’ve been working on for a few years. Other sculptures on this theme are also shown in this website, including the ‘Predator Bird Skull‘, the ‘Mechanical Insects‘ and the ‘New Mechanical Insects‘.

 

metainsectivore - an imaginary mammal

 

There was a bit of pressure to make a good job of this carving, as one of my fellow exhibitors at ‘Inspired’ was the very well-known furniture designer and maker, John Makepeace. That’s his table and chair next to my piece in the exhibition.

 

Inspired exhibition at Ashton Court

 

The entire sculpture is made from found and recycled timbers. including the eyes and whiskers. I wanted it to look like a Victorian taxidermied specimen, with the same kind of dramatised pose that such exhibits had.

 

carved wooden hands

 

It appears to have been surprised in the act of going to eat the ‘metainsect’ pupa hanging from the branch.

 

Metainsect DARPA HI-MEMS

 

The design took elements from real, existing creatures and put them together to invent a new one: features of cats, quolls, tarsiers, foxes and anteaters have all been included. A lot of thought went into what this creature would look like and why: for example, the strange long, narrow muzzle allows it to pick apart prey, while keeping vulnerable parts of the face a good distance away.

 

 

Imaginary creature-speculative evolution

 

If you would like to find out more about the designing and making of ‘Metainsectivore’, there are more in-depth descriptions posted on my blog, which you can visit by clicking on these links: Designing and Making. There is a link on the blog to bring you back to this website.