Tuesday 9 March 2010

D’Arcy 150

For the past 6 weeks level 3 Illustration students from the University's Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design have been working on a D'Arcy Thompson project as part of the celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth. They've been taking inspiration from D'Arcy's collections in the Zoology Museum and his theories of mathematical biology pioneered in the book On Growth & Form. An exhibition of their work opened last Friday in the Bradshaw Art Space at Duncan of Jordanstone and has been a fantastic success.

My main concern was that they would simply produce lots of nice drawings of animals, but I needn't have worried. The students really engaged with D'Arcy's ideas and produced work in a whole range of media, including printmaking, sculpture, animation, and artist's books. One of the students even did a performance piece at the opening, plugging himself into D'Arcy's brain (which he'd helpfully brought along for the occasion) and answering questions on behalf of the great man.

The exhibition can be seen in Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design until 20 March. It finishes just after the main historical exhibition on D'Arcy's life and work (and in particular his 32 years in Dundee) opens in the Lamb Gallery of the University Tower Building. Accompanying that will be a new publication on D'Arcy and the history of the Zoology Museum, which includes images from the collections held by Museum Services, Archive Services and from the Special Collections at the University of St Andrews Library.

Finally, there's a whole programme of special events to mark D'Arcy's birthday in May including music, talks, poetry readings and even live street theatre. There's lots of information on the events taking place to make the 150th anniversary of D'Arcy Thompson's birth online at www.darcythompson.org or you can become his friend on facebook.

Matthew Jarron, Museum Curator

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