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Species of origin – final workshop

The third and final Species of Origin workshop was hosted by the Natural History Museum on 24 and 25 January.

Artists inspired by Darwin

The workshop began with presentations by artists and writers involved in residencies on the Galapagos Islands and the 2009 Expressions exhibition to be held at the Museum as part of the celebrations for the anniversaries of Darwin’s birth and publication of Origin of Species.

Sabine Flach and Seumas Coutts (Zentrum für Literatur und Kulturforschung, Berlin) discussed their forthcoming 2008 Expressions exhibition along with the Natural History Museum Expressions curator, Bergit Arends, who provided a sneak preview, with Andrew Patrizio, of some of the video artwork to be shown.

Fin Folk by Marcus Coates, 2003

Fin Folk by Marcus Coates, 2003

Following on from this, Gillian Beer led a discussion of extracts from Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals and artist Marcus Coates presented his work on ‘becoming animal’ and birdsong. Gillian Beer also presented a session on the poetry of Jo Shapcott and Les Murray, joined by poet Ruth Padel reading from her own work.

The literary theme continued with excerpts from The Snow Geese read by author William Fiennes whilst a more scientific route was taken by Tecumseh Fitch (University of St Andrews) presenting a fascinating tour of the evolution of the voice.

Other participants included Sian Ede (Gulbenkian Foundation, London), Thiago Cavalho (Gulbenkian Foundation, Portugal), Toni Darton (Galapagos Conservation Trust) and artist Jeremy Deller (2004 Turner Prize winner).

The Species of Origin project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and brings together the collaborative team of Andrew Patrizio and Sara Barnes (both Edinburgh College of Art), Emilios Christodoulidis (University of Glasgow), and Bob Bloomfield and Bergit Arends (both NHM).


‘There is grandeur in this view of life... from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.’ Charles Darwin