Natural Histories: the Collection as Narrative

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March 8, 2017-April 12, 2017

Helen Gregory presents a selection of bookworks and objects drawn from her own collection to explore the relationships among the souvenir, the natural history collection, the cabinet of curiosities, and the travel diary. Bones, skulls, molted carapaces, and disembodied chicken feet are not only metonymically connected to the animals that they were once a part of, but also act as souvenirs of the circumstances under which they found their way into Gregory’s collection. Lacking any sort of collection data, these specimens are scientifically irrelevant and their value exists only in their nostalgic connection to an increasingly ephemeral set of memories. Each object is a souvenir of a particular moment in time, associated with a place, a person, and a shifting emotional response. The bookworks are an extension of the collection and are part of a project that has been ongoing for over 25 years. Constructed from handmade paper, silk, acrylic mediums, soil, plants, small bones, and other found objects from nature culled from the places where Gregory has lived, they function as both reliquaries and travelogues.

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The Author

Kirsty Robertson is an Associate Professor of contemporary art and museum studies at the University of Western Ontario.

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