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Creative Darwin workshop

The Arts and Humanities Research Council funded Species of Origin project led by Dr Andrew Patrizio, Edinburgh College of Art (eca) and Prof Emilios Christodoulidis (Glasgow University) held its first workshop at the college on 28 and 29 September.

Analysing Darwin’s writings

As a lead-in to future workshops and projects and gearing up for the bicentenary of Darwin's birth in 2009, the workshop explored the life and writings of Charles Darwin and how these may have relevance for contemporary art practice. Joining colleagues from eca for the debate and giving presentations were invited guests Dr Bob Bloomfield (Natural History Museum), Sian Ede (Gulbenkian Foundation), Prof David Amigoni (Keele University), artist Ilana Halperin, Prof Jeff Wallace (Glamorgan University) and Randal Keynes (The Charles Darwin Trust). Including close readings of excerpts from Darwin's On the Origin of Species and Voyage of the Beagle, and an essay by Jeff Wallace focussing upon defamiliariastion and language in the Origin, the participants discussed literary aspects of Darwin's work, his scientific methodology, teleology, the Romantic and the sublime, systems theory and the experience of visiting the Galapagos. This was particularly fruitful given the backdrop of Ilana Halperin's performance lecture, Towards Heilprin Land.

Watery Ecstatic by Ellen Gallagher 2004.

Watery Ecstatic by Ellen Gallagher 2004.

The first workshop lays a solid foundation for the second to be held in Glasgow 13 and 14 December 2007. Here, the emphasis will be on more philosophical approaches to Darwin, with our guests Dame Gillian Beer (Cambridge University), Prof Barbara Maria Stafford (University of Chicago), partner Bergit Arends (Natural History Museum), artists Tania Kovats and Ilana Halperin and scholars from Mexico, South Africa and the Netherlands.

Library and online resource

The project has now launched its creative resource. There is a library of related books, catalogues and visual material, and a website where news of the workshops, future plans and other Darwinian projects can be accessed. The content management system of the website is still being built, but from late October onwards will be updated on a regular basis.

For further information please see the Species of Origin website or contact Dr Sara Barnes, Research Associate.


‘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