D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum Art Collection

Will Maclean

D'Arcy Thompson's day book by Will Maclean

D'Arcy Thompson's Day Book, mixed media box construction, 2007.  DUNUC ARTS:4300
Presented by the Art Fund and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Will Maclean is one of the best known and most acclaimed artists in Scotland over the past 40 years, and as Professor of Fine Art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design has played an important role in Dundee’s artistic community.  Much of his work concerns the symbolic meanings of artefacts from the past, and so museum collections have always held a fascination for him.  D’Arcy Thompson’s desire to collect, catalogue and explain the natural world formed the basis of a series of mixed media box constructions made by the artist in 2007-8.

The works were first shown by Art First in London in the exhibition Different Meridians in 2008, then in the 2009 Society of Scottish Artists exhibition and the annual Royal Scottish Academy exhibition (at which The Scotsman singled them out for special praise, describing them as “exquisite reflections on D'Arcy Thompson's hugely influential book On Growth and Form”). 

Writing about the work shown in that exhibition, critic Lindsay Blair states: “D’Arcy Thompson’s mathematical ideas on the nature of measurement and balance are embedded into the paint surface… There’s a sense of a dialogue here in Maclean’s work between the visual sources: found objects or diagrams work with the modelled sculptural form; structural elements work with paint surface and an insistence of mark, brushstroke, tracings and rubbing back.  For Maclean it’s not just about excavating the past in a psychological sense but about a physical engagement with it.” 

D'Arcy Thompson's Daybook is a fascinating piece which features several three-dimensional and graphical elements that represent different aspects of D’Arcy’s work and interests (including morphology, marine biology, geometry and classics).  

On purchasing this piece, the artist generously donated an additional work - Museum of Zoology: Skull Notes (2007) - to the collection.


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