Posts Tagged ‘Charles Darwin’

You have mentioned that the Marianne North Gallery mobilized botanical knowledge. Were there particular kinds of knowledge that North hoped to cultivate?

Yes, absolutely. There are several running themes in North’s work that are telling of the kinds of stories she wanted to capture and put on display. First among these was the sheer abundance and variety of botanical nature. North rarely painted the same thing twice, and opted instead to…

Join the conversation with featured guest, Katie Zimmerman

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Kelly Houle at work in her studio.

Natural history artist, calligrapher and science educator, Kelly Houle, is creating a large-scale illuminated manuscript based on Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. Each page will be designed as a work of art. All text will be written by hand and natural history illustrations will be illuminated with iridescent watercolors and 23-karat gold. The completed manuscript will be 22 x 30 inches and is expected to have 300 pages and over 500 illuminations.

Kelly has established working relationships with biologists and evolution experts from all over the world who will advise her during this project (see timeline). Kelly’s goal is to enhance public understanding of Darwin’s text. She explains:

I believe that the main barrier to understanding The Origin of Species is the perceived difficulty of the writing. The concepts themselves are simple, yet profound. I hope to improve understanding of The Origin by integrating poetic arrangements of Darwin’s words with visually striking presentations of the evidence. I will use elements of poetry, traditional realism, lettering art, graphic design, and fine art illustration in the service of communicating one of the most important ideas in science. 

Kelly has been raising funds on the funding website Kickstarter. Donors donating $10 or more will receive gifts of art related to The Illuminated Origin of Species. All donors will have their names written in a special section of the illuminated manuscript. In addition to individual donations, Kelly is looking for an institutional donor to fund the entire Illuminated Origin of Species project in exchange for the completed manuscript.

To read more about this project, watch a short video and to make a donation, visit the The Illuminated Origin of Species.


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You are invited to discover the untold story of Charles Darwin’s lifelong fascination and work with plants. Darwin’s Garden: An Evolutionary Adventure at The New York Botanical Garden showcases Darwin’s botanical influences, research, and contributions in these venues:

Darwin’s Own Gardens: A re-creation of Darwin’s gardens at his home Down House in England features his important work, in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory April 25 – June 15.

Darwin’s Botany in His Own Words: Original historical documents explore Darwin’s deep, personal relationship with plants, in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library’s William D. Rondina and Giovanni Foroni LoFaro Gallery April 25 – July 20.

Children’s Adventures with Darwin: Hands-on activities, a replica of Darwin’s ship, and a display of carnivorous and other plants he studied teach about Darwin’s groundbreaking findings, in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, April 25 – June 29.

Evolutionary Tour: A walking tour through some of the Garden’s living collections illustrates Darwin’s concept of a tree of life, April 25 – June 15.

An additional highlight of the exhibition is a two-day symposium, on May 6 and 8, hosted by the Botanical Garden and the American Museum of Natural History. Darwin: 21st-Century Perspectives will feature presentations by some of the world’s leading Darwin experts who will discuss the far-reaching legacy of Charles Darwin and the implications of his thinking for science and society today. See the enclosed flyer for more information.

Darwin’s Garden: An Evolutionary Adventure will be on view April 25 – June 15, 2008.

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