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Appropriation Scissors

By  Helen Snell 2020
Designed by Helen Snell and crafted by Rebecca Tucker, jeweller at W. Hamond and curator at The Museum of Whitby jet. repurposed steel shears, silver, mother of pearl, vintage coral and Whitby jet. The work is currently on display at the Museum of Whitby jet. An edition of Sir Joseph Banks’s Florilegium in the library at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum has been a rich source of inspiration. Looking at the exquisite botanical plates by Sydney Parkinson , I became fascinated by the way plant specimens were trimmed and composed on the page. Invested in seemingly benign areas of detail such as cut stems, sliced branches , dissected leaves and magnified seeds are the symbols of the subsequent systematic exploitation of the bounty of the natural world, with little regard given to the land rights of first nation peoples. I wanted to reference the use of shell eyes in Polynesian carvings and masks. Paua are frequently used to represent the eyes in Maori carvings and are associated with the stars or whetu, the symbolic eyes of ancestors that gaze down from the night sky. The blackness of Whitby jet has a powerful narrative to offer to The Cook story. The depiction of indigenous peoples in the drawings and engravings from the three voyages was often highly stylised. Cook’s artists were so conditioned by their classical training that they often superimposed neo classical features and stances onto the native peoples that they were to be recording in a 'scientific and objective' manner. Disparate geographic locations are embedded and united through the materials. The model wears the Appropriation Dress (silk, digital embroidery, mother of pearl beads and laser cut trimmings) on display at Whitby Museum Neogeographies is a national touring exhibition inspired by the legacy of Captain Cook's three voyages. Funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Instagram project page @neogeographies
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Sky Fork

Distant horizons , Lochmaddy, Outer Hebrides

Setting Sights

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