The latest exhibition at the Horniman Museum and Gardens showcases taxidermy specimens and other objects usually kept behind the scenes in its south London stores.
Collected and Possessed features a series of stunningly detailed painted portraits of taxidermy animals, alongside their inspiration – the specimens themselves, brought out of storage especially for the exhibition.
Artist Mark Fairnington has spent five years exploring behind the scenes at the Horniman, as well as the Wellcome Collection and Natural History Museum, to create the exhibition of more than 40 paintings of subjects including taxidermy dioramas, birds of paradise, skeletons, puppets and medical models.
Mark Fairnington says: ‘Museum stores are full of peculiar, breathtaking and surreal images, with objects boxed, wrapped in plastic sheets or in nests of tissue paper, and arranged in unexpected juxtapositions.
Collected and Possessed recreates that sense of awe and discovery, to give an insight into what it’s like to encounter the inhabitants of this seldom-seen world for the first time.’
Collected and Possessed was made possible by 177 art-lovers who donated £9,317 via the crowdfunding website Art Happens, hosted by the Art Fund, receiving in return a range of rewards featuring Mark Fairnington’s work – from tote bags and photobooks to limited edition prints.
Jo Hatton, Keeper of Natural History at the Horniman, says: ‘We’re so grateful to everyone who supported the crowdfunding campaign to help us stage this exhibition. It’s always exciting as a curator to bring more of our collection onto display. It’s a privilege in Collected and Possessed to show our objects in an unusual and different context, displayed in their storage wrappings and boxes, alongside Mark’s beautiful work.’
Collected and Possessed is open from 28 November 2015 until 24 January 2016, and is free to visit.