Attributed to the Master of Los Balbases, Saints Cosmas and Damian (ca. 1495). Wellcome Library
It explored the theme of metamorphosis in its many aspects: from embryos to corpses, from witches’ spells to alchemists’ vials, from tadpoles and butterflies to transplants and wigs, from psychedelia to mystical states of consciousness. Artists’ responses to the theme formed a major part of the exhibition, which featured works by Lucas Cranach, Henri Michaux, Paula Rego, Daniel Lee, Kiki Smith and many others.
‘All things are always changing.’ - Ovid.
‘Everything flows and nothing stays.' - Heraclitus.
‘Things ain’t what they used to be.’ - Ted Persons.
|Dorothy Cross, Eyemaker, 2000 (still). Artist / Frith Street Galleries|
A selective online tour of the exhibition can be found here.
A review and a selection of images here.
An article I wrote for the Wellcome News, giving an overview of what the show was about, here.
‘There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone on cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.’
Charles Darwin: The Origin of Species
'I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.’ - Chuang Tzu.
Maria Sybilla Merian, butterflies from Histoire générale des insectes de Surinam’ (1771)