A collection of mesmerising Natural History images by artist Jim Naughten, brought to three-dimensional life through stereoscopic photography, can be seen in a new interactive display at the Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill from Saturday 26 September 2015.

Animal Kingdom (Stereoscopic Images of Natural History) is Naughten’s most recent project, exploring Victorian and Edwardian Natural History specimens held in various museum collections, including the Horniman’s. The display features 11 pairs of striking photographs of mounted skeletons and wet specimens including a Great Indian Hornbill, an Atlantic White Spotted Octopus, a Red Faced Spider Monkey and a Transparent Chameleon. Each set is photographed from a right- and left-eye perspective which, when viewed with a stereoscopic viewer, gives the illusion of being three-dimensional.

Naughten’s photographs are fascinating when viewed in two dimensions but are transformed and brought to life through stereoscopy – a technique developed in the 1800s to create the illusion of viewing images in three dimensions.

For Animal Kingdom, Naughten spent a year engaging with collections including those of the Grant Museum of Zoology, the Oxford Museum of Natural History, the University of Reading’s Cole Museum of Zoology, the Powell Cotton Museum and the Horniman Museum and Gardens; gathering images and overcoming technical challenges that this project brought.

Jim Naughten says: ‘Ever since I remember I have always been fascinated by Natural History. More recently I discovered the exquisite and rarely-seen art of stereoscopic photography and have been looking for the perfect project to marry the two. Animal Kingdom fits perfectly, and for me the images are not only beautiful studies of shape and form which function as art works in their own right, but are then elevated to another level with the illusion of three dimensions. The specimens have all been used for study and display purposes over many years by scientists and students. By using the interactive process of studying these specimens with the stereoscopic viewer, the audience are given the opportunity to contemplate and study them in three dimensions and in great detail and clarity.’

Jo Hatton, Keeper of Natural History at the Horniman says: ‘Jim’s images are striking and beautiful in their own right, but when viewed with the stereoscopic viewer they become truly extraordinary. The tangibility of real objects becomes wedded to the artistry of the photographer, creating an effect that is unique and enchanting.’