A cluster of tentacles dance and sway overhead as a sea of jellyfish get set to welcome visitors on a special tour of Museum London’s current exhibition, Nature’s Handmade.
Cassandra Getty, curator of art, will lead the tour, taking visitors on a general walk-through, followed by a presentation by local artist Conan Masterson, whose installation Sea Dab Jig graces the exhibition ceiling.
For Getty, the one-time offering is more than just an opportunity to take in an enlightening exhibition, but a chance for visitors to learn an artist’s creative process.
“It’s a chance to meet the artist and visitors will get to learn about her working method and why things would change from one version to the next,” she explained. “Every time she shows this work it will change, it shares so many characteristics with the works I had in mind when I started this project.”
Sea Dab Jig incorporates a swarm of small jellyfish hovering in the air surrounded by a projection of waves, making them appear in motion.
An old Newfoundland term for jellyfish, sea-dabs are resilient and great survivors, while overfishing, climate change and pollution are only fueling their spread.
The installation was originally created in 2011 at Newfoundland’s Full Tilt Creative Centre.
“All the people in the art community know who Conan Masterson is, so this is for the larger public,” said Getty. “The amount of things she uses in her work is quite interesting, it’s an eccentric ongoing program she’s got going.”
Masterson’s work is just one part of Nature’s Handmade, which began Dec. 13 and will run until April 5.
The title of the exhibition is meant to re-interpret, or even update, part of a famous quote from English Restoration-era poet and critic John Dryden. “By viewing Nature, Nature’s handmaid art, makes mighty things from small beginnings grow.”
The collection of works by artists including Canadian artists Joyce Wieland and Spring Hurlbut, combines individual handiwork with elements of mass production. Works include found objects and other materials in order to make ironic statements about artificiality and industry.
“With many of the works on display, they’re quite well known but often any gallery or museum can only have a small percentage of what they have on display, so in some cases these pieces haven’t been shown for one or two decades,” Getty explained. “We have a knitted tree and flowers and even steel sculptures. So much of art is about representing nature, but it flies in the face of literal using manmade objects to look like something natural.”
She went on to add the current exhibition pays compliment to several other shows coming up at Museum London in the coming weeks.
The tour takes place Jan. 18 at 1 p.m. and admission is free.
For more information, visit www.museumlondon.ca.