Paul Evans discusses ongoing work for the Origin011 project. This blog will act as an online sketchbook and reflective journal for work in progress on a series of ambitious drawing projects that he will be undertaking during 2012.
This painting, in oil on canvas, features iconography borrowed from the Harlequin motif that was developed at the turn of the 20th Century by artists including Pablo Picasso and Paul Cezanne.
Harlequin or Arlecchino in Italian, Arlequin in French, and Arlequín in Spanish is the most popularly known of the zanni or comic servant characters from the Italian Commedia dell’arte and its descendant, the Harlequinade. The primary aspect of Harlequin was his physical agility. While generally depicted as stupid and gluttonous, he was very nimble and performed the sort of acrobatics the audience expected to see. The character would never perform a simple action when the addition of a cartwheel, somersault, or flip would spice up the movement. According to some early illustrations, it would appear that Harlequin had the ability to breast feed his baby child …
Cezanne and Picasso used a number of pictorial devices, including colour and pose, to create a sense of pathos within their images of Harlequin; and this pathos might well resonate with the condition of captive dolphins. Following a series of findings by animal welfare authorities, we no longer have any dolphinaria or performing dolphins in the UK – but they can still be seen, if you so wish, in many places in continental Europe and in the USA. This is in spite of research dating from earlier than 1993 that has caused a number of leading scientists to redefine cetaceans as non-human “persons”.Here is an extract from a recent article on the BBC News:
Dolphins deserve to be treated as non-human “persons” whose rights to life and liberty should be respected, scientists meeting in Canada have been told. A small group of experts in philosophy, conservation and dolphin behaviour were canvassing support for a “Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans”. They believe dolphins – and their whale cousins – are sufficiently intelligent and self-aware to justify the same ethical considerations given to humans. Recognising cetaceans’ rights would mean an end to … the captivity of dolphins and whales, or their use in entertainment. The move is based on years of research that has shown dolphins and whales to have large, complex brains and a human-like level of self-awareness. This has led the experts to conclude that although non-human, dolphins and whales are “people” in a philosophical sense, which has far-reaching implications.
Ethics expert Professor Tom White, from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, author of In Defence of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier, said: “Dolphins are non-human persons. A person needs to be an individual. If individuals count, then the deliberate killing of individuals of this sort is ethically the equivalent of deliberately killing a human being. The captivity of beings of this sort, particularly in conditions that would not allow for a decent life, is ethically unacceptable … We’re saying the science has shown that individuality, consciousness, self-awareness, is no longer a unique human property. That poses all kinds of challenges.”
The declaration, originally agreed in May 2010, contains the statements “every individual cetacean has the right to life”, “no cetacean should be held in captivity or servitude, be subject to cruel treatment, or be removed from their natural environment”, and “no cetacean is the property of any state, corporation, human group or individual”.
The US authors brought their message to the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Vancouver, Canada, the world’s biggest science conference.
Psychologist Dr Lori Marino, from Emory University in Atlanta, told how scientific advances had changed the view of the cetacean brain. She said: “We went from seeing the dolphin/whale brain as being a giant amorphous blob that doesn’t carry a lot of intelligence and complexity to not only being an enormous brain but an enormous brain with an enormous amount of complexity, and a complexity that rivals our own. Its different in the way it’s put together but in terms of the level of complexity it’s very similar to the human brain.” Dolphins had a sense of self which could be tested by the way they recognise themselves in mirrors, she added. When you get up in the morning and look in the mirror and know that’s you, you have a sense of ‘you’,” said Dr Marino. “They have a similar sense. They can look in a mirror and say, ‘Hey, that’s me’.
“Once you shift from seeing a being as a property, a commodity, a resource, to a person, an autonomous entity that has a right to life on his or her own terms, the whole framework shifts …”
Read the full article here.
Dolphin keeping ceased in the UK in 1993 with the last three female dolphins from Flamingoland being relocated to European facilities.
I first met with the poets Matthew Clegg, Chris Jones and the photographer Karl Hirst to discuss this new creative collaboration – to be entitled Tissues and Organs – in Site Cafe, Sheffield in mid December 2011. Chris and I have collaborated previously on the Cells series and this new piece of work is intended to follow on from that; perhaps forming something of a conceptual and material bridge between the lowest level of organisation of organic life and the larger whale drawings that serve to represent the largest manifestations of biological organisation – or, at the very least, of animal organisation …
Matt and I have collaborated previously on a project entitled Chalk and on the Seven Wonders landscape project. My collaborative relationship with Karl is, as yet, new and untested but I am very excited about the prospect of working with him because I feel that we share many aesthetic interests and passions.
We have all agreed to follow a slightly different process to the ‘call and response’ format that has resulted in the outputs from previous projects. In previous collaborations it has been the case that either:
A) I have created a painting and the poet writes a response (as in Cells)
B) I have responded, in paint, to the words of the poet (as has occurred, in some instances, in the Seven Wonders and in another collaboration with Chris Jones entitled Death and The Gallant).
In this case we have each looked at the four classifications of biological tissues (connective tissue, muscle tissue, nervous tissue and epithelial tissue) and at four organs: heart, brain, liver and penis – focussing on each of latter as illustrated by Leonardo da Vinci.
This – first – posting in this category features the first of Chris Jones’ poetic responses and two images from Karl Hirst …
Currently I am working on a curatorial strategy for presenting these pieces in a meaningful, poetic ‘dialogue’ and creating paintings of my own that respond to these themes.
Skin | Chris Jones
At thirteen my skinny body peeled apart. My throat closed up, cleft with ulcers; my mouth and tongue foamed and blistered. The tip of my penis bubbled then scabbed over.
This was the month of blossom pinking trees, of schoolmates necking by the fences; the month the ships pushed southwards.
My skin, layers of skin, had separated. And because my lungs were tacked with phlegm, since I hadn’t peed for days, the next recourse was hospital. I peered through the ambulance’s tinted doors; gazed from my isolated room at children hooked to limpid bags and tubes.
I watched a TV screen that moved and moved with grey-green sea.
I kept to a course of manageable things: lucent jars of Vaseline, spittoons (a physio came to beat my back like skins), and cups of medicine to light my throat.
One morning, medics crowded round the glass. Two clinicians pitched up to snap my eyes and mouth. The black Sister who wandered through my nights must have known, could have recalled some far away island pummeled by storms.
When the young doctor breezed in to check my notes and said ‘So many cards – lots of hugs and kisses?’ I thought of an untouchable girl: lip-gloss and freckles. Everyone it seemed was dreaming of a sweetheart they’d left behind.
The sickness was leaving me though one afternoon I started to yammer and wouldn’t shut up. Maybe it was horses thump-circling on the box. Maybe it was the infection riddling everybody’s blood, that springtime fever. Maybe it was because my scabs were crumbling, my rank mouth was firming back into a mouth.
Just as my dermis and epidermis were melding back together, just as my sores were healing over, I watched men on TV being flayed by fire.
On board the Coventry, Sheffield, men who met the blasts must have crackled black. What footage showed were boats carrying the badly burnt; padded bandages making up large and useless hands: so much singed and weeping flesh. Blokes looked wide of everyone, amazed at how flimsy they’d become.
My thirteen-year old self, scoured and picked as I was, could comprehend the body’s vicissitudes, could gauge the absolute waste of skin.
Away from the Pod, currently installed within the Millennium Galleries, Sheffield, is the third of a series of ‘encounters’ with the scale of life-sized cetaceans that I have attempted to realise through drawing. One of the great advantages of the Millennium Galleries is its inclusive ‘mall-like’ design that allows those with curiosity to see things in passing; and to draw them in through a form of cultural faire du lèche-vitrine …
I had a conversation with the writer Philip Hoare – author of the amazing Leviathan – not so long ago. We met in the cafe of the Natural History Museum, South Kensington; just a wall and a few meters separating us from the massive blue whale model that occupies the Whale Hall. We discussed, amongst other things, how we felt ourselves to be the first generation to have recognised and felt a connection with the great whales as something other – and so much more – than a source of industrial fats; about the iconic status of these animals that has passed through cliché and pastiche into positive reinvention by a new ‘post-nuke-the-baby-whales’ generation.
We also discussed my reasons for drawing life-sized cetaceans, for placing these impossible encounters into galleries (the new churches?) and (where possible) into deconsecrated spaces that still – albeit silently – echo the sacred.
We spoke about the history of representing animals, of notions of sacrifice and vessels for sin. These ideas have a clear and poignant resonance in the plight of the great cetacean apex predators; how their position at the top of the food chain means that they more or less literally Hoover up PCBs, heavy metals and other contaminants … how they have become living repositories, as it were, for the sins of the world.
Preliminary sketch for drawing to measure 1.5m x 1.5m.
Heligmosomoides polygyrus is a common nematode found in the duodenum and small intestine of woodmice and other rodents. It is often used to model human helminth infection in laboratory mice.
These worms are 5–20mm in length and bright red due to the pigmentation of their tissues. They are usually heavily coiled, with the female having 12–15 coils and the male 8–12. The male can be distinguished from the female by a prominent copulatory bursa and two long, thin spicules at the posterior end.
They have a direct life cycle. The eggs pass out with the faeces of the host into the environment. After 2 days they hatch as larvae which are about 300μm in length. The larvae moult 3 days later but retain the shed cuticle for protection. It is at this point they become infective. The larvae shed the outer protective sheath after they are eaten by a suitable host. The larvae then penetrate the submucosa of the duodenum where they undergo 2 further moults. About 7 days later the male and female adult worms emerge into the lumen of the duodenum where they attach to the epithelial layer and begin to feed off the contents of the gut. The adult worms mate and eggs are shed in the faeces. The complete life cycle from egg to egg takes a minimum of 15 days, and the female worms will live inside their host for 8 months.
These worms often form cysts in the wall of the intestine. These cysts often become infected with bacteria, but it is not yet known if these are harmful to the host.
This nematode has been previously called Nematospiroides dubius.
Sketch for life-sized drawing of bowhead whale (Balaeana mysticetus) – to measure 10m x 6m.
The bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) is a baleen whale of the right whale family Balaenidae. A stocky dark-colored whale without a dorsal fin, it can grow to 20 m (66 ft) in length. This thick-bodied species can weigh 75 tonnes (74 long tons; 83 short tons) to 100 tonnes (98 long tons; 110 short tons), second only in mass to the blue whale, although the bowhead’s maximum length is less than that of several other great whales. It lives entirely in the nutrient rich Arctic and sub-Arctic waters; unlike other whales that migrate to feed or reproduce in low latitude waters. It is also known as Greenland right whale or Arctic whale. American whalemen called it the Steeple-top, Polar whale, or Russia or Russian whale. The bowhead has the largest mouth of any animal and is perhaps the longest-living mammal.
Bowheads were once thought to live 60 to 70 years, similar to other whales, however, discoveries of 19th century ivory, slate and jade spear points in freshly killed whales in 1993, 1995, 1999, and 2007 triggered research based on structures in the whale’s eye, suggesting that at least some individuals reached 150–200 years old. The amino acid racemization process has provided the scientific basis for these claims, although this process is controversial and has failed to correlate well with other dating methods.
In May 2007, a 50 tonnes (49 long tons; 55 short tons) specimen caught off the Alaskan coast was discovered with the head of an explosive harpoon embedded deep beneath its neck blubber. The 3.5 inches (89 mm) arrow-shaped projectile was manufactured around 1890 in New Bedford, Massachusetts, a major whaling center, suggesting the animal may have survived a similar hunt more than a century ago.