Moving Darwin, is a study of what emotions look like and feel like. A personal taxonomy inspired by Charles Darwin’s lesser-known thesis The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals in which he defined 6 emotions as fundamental to human evolution: Happiness, Sadness, Surprise, Fear, Anger and Disgust.
Moving Darwin is my first solo show, and will be held at Down House, English Heritage’s museum of the family home of Charles Darwin, 26th July – 5th September 2021. The work has evolved in the wake of the pandemic, and explores the enduring importance of empathy and responds to how flat screen devices and (now) face masks are curbing our ability to understand facial expressions of emotions. It also includes a new series of emotional ceramic portraits of Emma Darwin, the current great great granddaughter of Charles and Emma Darwin, sculpted in Wedgwood Jasperware-inspired colours making the link between the Wedgwood and Darwin family dynasties.
This exploration is both figurative and abstract. It combines installation, ceramic sculpture, and clay stop-frame animated film, WhyTheFace?. A bust and animated film features a raw clay portrait of William Pryor, Darwin’s Great Great Grandson expressing the six emotions defined as key by his forebear. These facial expressions are interspersed with abstracted clay interpretations of the same feelings. Click below to view an excerpt from the film with a sequence expressing fear, plus a short explanation about my making process.