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'A Modern Bestiary (While Darwin Sleeps...)'

Exhibition dates: 5 May - 1 July 2006

Preview: Thursday 4 May 6:00 - 8:00pm

''Here begins the book of the nature of beasts.''

A 'bestiary' is a medieval illuminated manuscript describing both real and imaginary animals. Bestiaries catalogued every type of known and fictional animal in order to draw moral lessons from their different characteristics and types of behaviour. Each of the eight artists here either create their own fantastical, imaginary species, or else reorder the animal kingdom into unexpected categories where imagination triumphs over instrumental reason. In the artists' hands, animals - including human beings - are subject to extraordinary metamorphoses and mutations.

Essays by Alistair Robinson
Yuri A's 'Unk' is a short film cataloguing man-made beasts, ordering hundreds of toy and souvenir animals into a sequence which is both alarming and comic.
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From 'Unk' 1997, video projection from 16mm film: 5 minutes

Tom G. Adriani's video work 'The Boy Who Chose Sleep' mixes fantastical pencil drawings with still photographs to tell the stories of fantastic creatures which, through one boy's imagination, come to life.
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From 'The Boy Who Chose Sleep' 2005, video projection: 5 min
Ebony Andrews transforms taxidermied animals into both extraordinary tableaux and quasi-functional objects.
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'Runt', 2005, mixed media

Paul Bush's film 'While Darwin Sleeps...' catalogues the infinite variety of the insect kingdom, revealing 3000 still images of insect species animated as though a single animal in constant metamorphosis.
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From 'While Darwin Sleeps...' 2006, video projection: 6 min
Dawn Hannah's vinyl wall text challenges our Enlightenment mindset, proclaiming that 'Monsters do exist'.
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'Monsters Do Exist', 2006, vinyl lettering on wall
Bryndis Erla Hjalmarsdottir's animals create a tragicomic 'theatre of the absurd' recalling WB Yeats' line that "Nor dread nor hope attend / a dying animal / A man awaits his end / dreading and hoping all."
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'Hover', 2005, taxidermied magpie, electrical and mechanical fittings, car paint, chipboard
Kate McLeod creates neoclassical plaster sculptures based upon human-canine cross-breeds, akin to the mythical creatures described in Ovid's 'Metamorphoses'.
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Below: 'Becoming', 2006, plaster

Robert Morgan's short film 'The Cat With Hands' combines gothic horror with breathtaking imagery in a dark tale of metamorphosis.
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From 'The Cat With Hands' 2001, video projection from 35mm film: 3 min