In a celebration of the International Year of Biodiversity Lucy and Jorge Orta's Amazonia show at The Natural History Museum in London is a riotous display of colour and texture. This prolific pair of artists, famous for the exploration of social and environmental issues in their work, have produced this multimedia exhibition as a positive celebration of the beauty of the Amazon rainforest and a stark reminder of what we stand to lose in this age of the 6th mass extinction.We particularly liked the interactive part of the exhibition - a series of beautiful limited edition posters that the Ortas are giving away for free, but in doing so they ask for a donation to the ongoing conservation of the hectare of Amazon rainforest they documented in the poster's photographs. Rather thought provokingly they ask: "What price would are you willing to pay?"
The Ortas say in the exhibition literature:
"The posters are free, but the loss of nature comes at a price. How can we value a hectare of forest, by how it makes us feel emotionally? By how much wealth it produces or the well-being it brings to indigenous people? By its influence on global climate? Please make a contribution in the box. By doing so, you become a steward of the Amazon rainforest. All contributions go to research programmes in the Amazon rainforest. "
We also enjoyed the wonderful quotes spread across the exhibition walls, scattered amongst the art works. Our favourite was from forester & environmentalist Aldo Leopoldo (1886-1948)
"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with live & respect."
Below are some artworks from the exhibition with information from The Natural History Museum website.
Madre de Dios - Fluvial Intervention Unit. Hundreds of tiny animals are kept afloat on the decorative Madre de Dios pirogue boat from Indonesia, carved by hand from a single tree. The 5m-long boat sculpture forms the first piece of the exhibition. Peep inside to see how the colourful model animals it carries are reflected into infinity by mirrored surfaces.
The Madre de Dios is an Andean tributary that feeds into the Amazon River, and Madre de Dios means mother of God. Lucy + Jorge Orta navigated the river on their Peruvian expedition for several days.
Collection: Aepyornis, Gallimimus, Allosaurus, Palaeomastodon. Wonder at the artists' vibrant collection of intricately decorated casts of eggs and bones. These porcelain artworks are taken from specimens in the Museum's collection: the egg from the elephant bird Aepyornis, limb bones from dinosaurs Gallimimus and Allosaurus, and the elephant ancestor, Palaeomastodon. Butterflies, insects and flowers adorn these works pointing to the cycle of life.
Amazon Florae (Interpretations). A playful mural of sculptural, handcrafted flowers, inspired by plants photographed during the journey to the rainforest and other ecosystems.
Amazonia - An exhibition by Lucy + Jorge Orta
The Natural History Museum, London
6 October - 12 December 2010
More on Lucy + Jorge Orta
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Climate Change Art: Art of a Changing World
Cape Farewell 2009: Artists Inspired by Trek Through Andes
1% Water and Our Future: Art + Design Exhibition Gets Creative With H2O