Matthew Jarron, Museum Curator, describes a new exhibition in Orkney showing some of the University collections.

Mark Wright’s painting Division makes a striking appearance in the exhibition

Back in 2011 we were fortunate to become one of just six museums in the UK awarded substantial funding as part of the Art Fund’s RENEW scheme to build collections on a specific theme. We were keen to explore the artistic influence of D’Arcy Thompson, the University’s first Professor of Biology and founder of our Zoology Museum. The collection we built up features both renowned 20th-century artists such as Henry Moore and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham but also contemporary artists who are continuing to respond to D’Arcy’s ideas, such as Will Maclean, Gemma Anderson and Andy Lomas.

The collection has continued to develop since that initial grant and over the years we’ve shown it not only here at the University (both in the Zoology Museum itself and in various exhibitions in the Tower Building and in LifeSpace) but also in other venues further afield, most notably at Edinburgh City Art Centre in 2016-17. Now we’ve headed northwards to show highlights from the collection at the Pier Arts Centre in Stromness, Orkney.

Preparing the exhibition

The Pier is home to a nationally important collection of modern British art, including outstanding works by Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicolson, Naum Gabo and Eduardo Paolozzi, all of whom were strongly influenced by D’Arcy Thompson’s acclaimed book On Growth and Form (1917). It therefore seemed like the ideal location for this exhibition, a chance to show parts of our collection alongside relevant works from the Pier Arts Centre’s own collection. The Pier’s curator Andrew Parkinson was enthusiastic about the idea and the results have just been unveiled in the exhibition, titled The Growth of New Ideas – The Legacy of D’Arcy Thompson in Modern and Contemporary Art. Find out more at

Works of sculpture displayed alongside some of D’Arcy’s original specimens and models


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *