I visited Bankfield Museum in June and photographed some interesting items from the natural history collection that are not currently on display. I was drawn in particular to the antiquarian eggshell and insect collections and also to a box of labels.
The eggshells appeared to me to represent an interesting dichotomy in that they are almost perfectly preserved containers for an object (ie. a chick) but without that object ever having been present. However, if the eggshells had been able to perform their natural function, and their contents had been allowed to reach their potential as adult birds, they would have been destroyed long ago. Their very existence is a contradiction.
I also came across a small box of labels which had ‘misplaced’ their associated objects. The nest-like jumble of these incomplete objects suggested an interesting way to display the eggshells by juxtaposing these lost labels with the pristine, but objectless, eggshells.
The insect collections were largely decayed and had typically been damaged by other insects. They seem to me to be an exercise in illuminating how little of an object is required to suggest its existence. The dragonflies in particular demonstrated a similarity to fossils, which is a consequence of the robustness of the thick chitin of their wing veins. I am also interested in the idea of exploring what kind of objects constitute a display suitable for public viewing. Do the objects have to be pristine exemplars of their kind? If not, what different experience might this provoke?