As an artist who started their career having studied biology, I am primarily interested in expressing
biological ideas that affect how we view and conduct ourselves in the world. My culturally
mixed background has perhaps informed a specific interest in origins. Biological origins are at
the root of who we are and are ultimately embedded in a very deep past which is far beyond
our everyday experience. The sense of the infinite and boundless has been apprehended by
religions throughout history with the help of images to focus human attention on the divine. I
use this idea to explore the vastness of our biological ancestry, focusing on aspects of the distant
fossil record and developmental concepts.
I see clay as the most primitive of materials from which plastic forms are made and subjected to
an alchemical process of petrification. I treat this as a metaphor for the creation of fossils that
makes earth both durable and extremely fragile, reflecting our dependence on surviving fragments
of evidence to shape our narrative, and the nature of life itself. In essence I am taking
simple shapes and elaborating more complex morphologies, imagining the structures as relevant
to an organism and its survival, whether this be its energy capture, passage of fluids through its
body, sex or some other relationship between parts. While I am doing this I refer to previous
pieces, evolving and developing new forms, related but also divergent as I look to create congruent
diversity. The work has now reached a point where I am also looking at using new materials
such as cement and plastics to broaden my practice and widen contextual possibilities.
Many artists respond to or comment on scientific ideas from outside the fields using technology
and scientific methods to illustrate or represent a particular issue. I feel particularly well placed
to express ideas from within the area of biology as an artist, with an understanding of the subject
from within. This gives me a unique viewpoint from where I can respond to ideas as if by
second nature. The latent presence of humanity in my work is informed by the aesthetics of
Indian and African culture as well as pre-enlightenment European art; Goethe’s ideas of early
biology and archetypes; the drawings of Ernst Haeckel; and of course the palaeontological record
itself. Recently I came across works by the botanist Agnes Arber (1879-1960). After retiring
she dedicated herself to writing about the natural philosophy of the scientific method and
biology in such a way that crossed boundaries, perhaps unaware of the full implications in areas
such as the visual arts. I shall be giving a talk to accompany an exhibtion on this area and how it
is influencing my work at the Linnean Society of London 16 June 2011.
I have taken my rational belief in evolution and divested it of scientific rigour in a simulacrum of
the religious process. The sculptures are as votive offerings, fetishes obstinately marked and
measured with devotion. When I work with the clay I draw and write in three dimensions. I
move from notions of a very distant origin with its huge implications to a more recent, intimate
human past, seeing an imaginary alter-world through the window of archeology and ethnology.
This journey gives me a sense of our own transience, it is as though I am looking back from a
future where we are only faint imprints on an earth that has continued to conspire against entropy
and chaos, maintaining life in some other form. This is what compels me to replace what
could be overt human iconography with a presence of latent humanity.
My work contributes to the ongoing debate on our origins highlighting the fact that scientific
ideas, beautiful in themselves, are inextricably linked to social, political, ethical and religious concerns.
I believe that my purpose is to bear witness to our own existence as a wonderful and
singular possibility in the vastness of the universe by showing our very abscence in it in the light