7 August - 1 September 2018
“I am at work on the second vol. of the Cirripedia, of which creatures I am wonderfully tired: I hate a Barnacle as no man ever did before, not even a Sailor in a slow sailing ship. “
Charles Darwin letter to William Fox, 24 October 1852
Charles Darwin’s yet impassioned letter to William Fox in 1852 was six years into an eight-year obsession of collecting, dissecting and classifying every known barnacle – living and fossil. By 1854 Darwin finally published, stating that over millions of years there had been hundreds of barnacle adaptations from a common ancestor. The small shell was a critical turning point for the ground-breaking publication On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection in 1859.
From her discovery of the acorn barnacle on the NSW south coast, ANNABEL BUTLER curiously dissects the crater like structure, creating a whole series of works in ceramics, constructions, watercolour and oils dedicated to the ancient shells that defined our understanding of the natural world.
A continuation of her exploration of NSW coastline, BUTLER brings the light and colour of the macro landscape into the micro examination of the barnacle within it. Like Darwin there is an obsessive process to the way BUTLER studies and deconstructs the curious form of the barnacle in a myriad of ways. The playful ceramics can be seen as sculptural sketches, as she explores the barnacle in its fullest sense.
Moving seamlessly between oil, screen-printing and watercolour BUTLER deftly deconstructs the barnacle, manipulating tone, colour and repetition until the vessel is reduced to its formalist qualities. What was once a barnacle is distilled and simplified into a series of fragmented still life. An exhibition of exploration and study, this intensive series of the barnacle shares camaraderie with Darwin as BUTLER draws from the micro to express her avid encounter with the coast.
Annabel Butler has exhibited extensively in Australia, as well as internationally in New York and across Europe. Her work features in a number of private and public collections in Australia.