Mark Dion is an American conceptual artist who makes work in response to the fragility and wonder of the natural world. He travels through rainforests, muddy rivers and rubbish dumps to uncover objects, both natural and man made.
The exhibition at the Whitechapel gallery consist of several immersive installations created between 2000 and the present. The ‘library for the birds of London’ is a newly commissioned piece that offers a sanctuary for 22 Zebra Finches. Visitors can mingle amongst the birds in their aviary which also contains a dead apple tree and a library of 600 books devoted to science and literature.
‘The wonder workshop’ installation displays obsolete and extinct creatures, glowing in a darkened room. These re-imagined forms are derived from old illustrations and engravings.
Elsewhere in the exhibition, habitats are recreated and cabinets of specimens are on display. There are also intricate drawings and models that relate to scientific enquiry and to natural history – though not all entirely factual. A fake unicorn’s horn is amongst the objects on display in the ‘naturalist’s study’ in the upstairs gallery.
The exhibition visit provides an opportunity to view and reflect on the work of an important contemporary artist, as well as meeting fellow OCA students.
For study events that require a ticket, there is a non refundable fee of £10 to pay and your confirmation email will instruct you on how to do this.
Featured Image: Mark Dion Library for the birds of London 2018