Sunday 1 May 2022

2020 Topic 07: Specimen Jar - Topic introduction

Our regular blog topic introductions contain a variety of samples all displaying an aspect of what we're concentrating on; curated collections of beautiful art. This topic is no different - a curation of specimens focusing on both the containers and the contained. Which is more aesthetically pleasing? Which has greater importance? What is the relationship between the two and how symbiotic are they? What do we value and why should we contain or protect it? Hopefully these questions will have you starting to think about the topic and how you might artistically respond to them.

Specimen jars can simply be receptacles that contain anything. Gwen Lafleur has designed stamps that you can mix and match so many different elements and of course she's created some wonderful art pages incorporating them.

Alison Bomber created a wonderful specimen box. Why use curved lines when straight lines can work!

Has it all got a little too reflective? We need some fun! Tracey Springer used the ever fun loving Zinski creatures to simulate a creative laboratory. It would be fun researching in there!

Sometimes we want to capture that which scares us. Do we face it or do we avoid it? Preserve or conquer? Our art can be the vehicle in which we explore our fears, face what threatens to destroy our peace and what defines us.

The next two pictures are from Frederick Ruysch who was a Dutch botanist and created unique embalming jars. They were part of a pair of juxtaposed jars with the collars crocheted with Frederick's daughter.

You will find lots of specimen jars with items or animals that are preserved. Some preservation was a curiosity but many others were for scientific study. Continuing to protect in order to conserve is vital. These wings below are ethically sourced and sold to raise conservation funds. Can our art speak about protecting what is important to us and to our planet?

Are specimens trapped or saved? What's the correlation between outside and inside? Which is reality? This jar makes perfect use of both the outer and inner.

Whilst hunting for specimen, there was a lot of the creepy and disgusting so it was refreshing to see a little calm amongst the frenzied. A beautiful forest carefully crafted from paper.

Who doesn't love a beautiful vintage label? Specimen jars are awash with them. Are the labels meant to invite you to gaze...capture your imagination first? Are they a false labelling of whatever is contained, allowing you to wonder what you're actually viewing?

These specimen labels are from a famous collector and microscopist called Thomas Russell. He was once described as a geologist who created many microscope slides. These descriptions are might you label your art creatively?

If you're asked for a 'specimen' - you may have to produce one medically. Years ago they'd have been contained within these type of jars and an artist with a sense of humour added flowers and coloured the water to give a nod to the containers original use!

What we regard as specimens worth containing and preserving speaks of our priorities and goals. Is the daily worth remembering? The ordinary worthy of capturing? Maybe this might inspire us to art journal about those things we do and see everyday that can be encapsulated in our art.

Another artistic avenue to explore could be what we collect and how we display it. This beautiful collection folio would be a great place to start and record what you choose to gather around you.

You could go the whole hog and create your very own miniature museum inspired display case capturing your precious things.

If we're talking about items that contain collections, would we be stretching the topic too far to argue that our art journals are the very containers of our thoughts and feelings? Creatively ordered collections.

Weaving our way back to the PaperArtsy blog, there are many different jars and items perfectly suited to storing items. Here's but a few. First Kate Yetter using a JOFY cloche.

Kay Carley drew this beautiful jar to contain some of her gorgeous bloom stamps.

Lastly, how about considering Assemblage. Isn't it simply another artistic collection of items. Alison Bomber made this gorgeous assemblage piece.

As you collect your thoughts, why not transfer them into the physical world and create alongside our thoughtful bloggers who will transport you over the next few weeks to many different ways of viewing specimen jars.

Does this topic push your creative buttons? We would LOVE you to share what you get up to with us! A great place is tagging us on Instagram @paperartsy or why not join us and post in the PaperArtsy People Group on Facebook. We love to see what you make!  


Ellie Knol said...

Lovely post.. gorgeous theme!

Etsuko said...

Amazing topic! great samples and looking forward to seeing bloggers wonderful projects. xx