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Natural Selection

Andy Holden and Peter Holden

Natural Selection marks the culmination of a five-year collaboration between artist Andy Holden and his father, the ornithologist Peter Holden. Their collaborative exhibition takes viewers on an ornithological journey: from the building of nests to the collecting of eggs.

Featuring found objects, a human-scale bird’s bower, exquisite replica eggs and video works, Natural Selection is composed of two parts and celebrates an astonishing diversity of natural forms, and embraces different ways of looking at the world around us. The first part, A Natural History of Nest Building, examines birds’ nests and why they exist in an astounding array of forms. The second section, A Social History of Egg Collecting, shifts the focus from birds’ nests to the history of egg collecting, from scientific pursuit to a competitive and eccentric pastime which became illegal after the 1954 Protection of Birds Act.

At first glance, Natural Selection may appear to be about one kind of knowledge – natural history – but it is equally concerned with social history, aesthetics and communication. Through their investigation into often overlooked subjects, the Holdens open up different areas of enquiry such as evolution, intelligence and creativity, as well as reflecting on the nature of collaboration and parental influence.

Natural Selection was commissioned by Artangel, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Leeds Art Gallery and Towner Art Gallery, with the support of the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Bristol Green Capital 2015, the Henry Moore Foundation and Artangel’s Guardian Angels.

The tour in Scotland is supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.

11 October 2019 – 11 January 2020
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Image: Andy Holden & Peter Holden, Natural Selection 2017, an Artangel commission.  #InvMAG #NaturalSelection