1-31 October, Tennyson Gallery
Jo Blogg on the wall, Bernie Winkels on the plinths

As a Londoner, venturing into the Natural History Museum from the chic, well-to-do streets of Kensington, I expect to see a vast array of specimens, arthropods to arachnids, paired jointed appendages and Nudibranchs with tufts and nodules, but in Napier on the corner of Tennyson Street and Hastings Street? No.

Tennyson Gallery has briefly morphed into a centre of entomology. I entered. The gallery was buzzing with the familiar and unfamiliar. Well-known faces from the art community, beautifully dressed, cheese and wine flowing, chatter and smiles. A collection of people interacting with creatures that have a 400 million year history on this planet. However, there were no squeals of fear, or reaching for the fly spray. The ephemeral entomologists were admiring and celebrating.

Jo’s circular images hit me with a punch. ‘Like Darwin on acid’, I thought to myself. I looked into the work. I stood back from the work. The bold, mesmerizing, repeated circle pattern gave way to an insect. The pinned specimen attentively drawn on the spreading block.  I was briefly taken back to my childhood. In one thought bad boys in the playground catching bugs, and the test for colour blindness in the next. This time I was nose to nose with a fly, a weta, a huhu bug and a mosquito, not the number 7.

The word ‘primordial’, creatures existing from the beginning time, hung in my thoughts as I curiously examined  Bernie’s ceramic interpretations of “world leading New Zealand critters”. The Marlborough Sounds slug with its retractable protrusions sensitively gripping its way along the plinth, almost melting into the wood with its pinky white glaze, begged me to caress it and the springtail, spectacularly displaying its pink tipped digitations, eyeing the entomologists as they peered and mused.

I found the works of both artists highly original and somewhat challenging. The show remained in my thoughts for sometime as I tussled with feelings it left me with. The artists’ approach to the theme of insects was strikingly original and produced strong reactions from the viewers. I did enjoy the works, but personally I am comfortable with admiring them from afar. The show is well worth a visit. Whether you are a budding zoologist, a bug collector, or you suffer with entomophobia, it’s a fascinating experience.











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