CCW Reader Mark Fairnington has been interviewed in Studio International by Janet McKenzie. It was published in June 2015.
Speakinig about his work, Fairnington said, ‘Researching natural history collections has been important for my work, collections started from the thousands of specimens that were brought back from the first voyages of discovery. One focus of my work is the line that can be traced between observation and speculation: the fictions that build up around facts in the natural sciences.
One example of this is the origin of the name “birds of paradise”. It was in 1522 when Europeans saw the first specimens, skins that had been prepared for trade by having their legs removed by the native Papuans, sometimes along with the wings and heads. They wondered how these birds could exist without wings or feet, and believed that they must have lived their entire lives in the air, that they were birds of Paradise.
The imagined life cycle of these birds, although based on the study of specimens, seems to represent a desire on the part of the observers. Stories like these are important representations of our changing relationships with the natural world. While they may be described as footnotes in the history of science, their narrative power persists.
Painting can create spaces in which the meaning of the image is continually renegotiated, and this is the point at which the work may relate to surrealism – a very deadpan, English, surrealism where a sense of the uncanny lies almost dormant.’
The full article can be accessed online.
Top image: Anna-lena, oil on panel, 7cm diameter