Jocelyn Thompson at Art Meets Science

Jocelyn Thompson’s new series ‘Collecting Nature: Boxed Sets’ appeared at the Art Meets Science exhibition, Ecosciences Precinct, Brisbane.

Thompson’s new series was inspired by QUT lecturer Tanya Scharaschkin’s plant anatomy workshop for artists. ‘This opportunity to play with microscopic images is a dream come true. I could never understand why schools teach art, science, philosophy and literature in separate compartments. Collaborating has great potential to sharpen everyone’s wits. Working with someone with a radically different approach can wake you up to new ways of seeing the same data.’ Thompson plays with the habits and assumptions of both the biosciences and art.

The prints are mounted in antique wooden trays flat on a table, so viewers come up close and look down, as if into museum drawers. The series explores the tension between the prolific wildness of nature and the order imposed by human process of collecting, storing and displaying specimens. Trays, drawers, display cases and so on are all rectangular and often compartmentalised. Artists too traditionally work on rectangular paper, canvas, frames and walls. The irony is that nature runs on curves, spheres and broken lines. It has no edges or corners. These artworks also play with scale. A wide landscape might look like a small rock specimen. A microscopic view of plant cells could seem as big as a planet or moon.