Amazonia Collection: Aepyornis, Gallimimus, Palaeomastodon
Materials: 4 Royal Limoges porcelain fossil casts, enamel drawings, wood, lacquered glass
Dimensions: Table plinth: 100 x 100 x 110cm
Exhibition history: 2012 Field Museum, Chicago, USA; 2011 Galleria Continua Le Moulin; 2010 Natural History Museum London
Courtesy: Lucy + Jorge Orta
Bones are memento mori, reminders of death, but the egg is birth, the start of life. Lucy + Jorge Orta casts these porcelain replicas from specimens in the Natural History Museum palaeontology collection. The egg from the elephant bird Aepyornis, the limb bones from dinosaurs Gallimimus and Allosaurus, and the elephant ancestor Palaeomastodon. The motifs enamelled onto the surface are taken from drawings conducted by the artists during their expedition to the Peruvian Amazon in 2009.
The imaginary flowers, butterflies and insects point to the cycle of life, fragile specimens so miniscule to go unnoticed, or that simply disappear even before being discovered. There is an underlying melancholy of the end of time, and the hot breath of extinction. The porcelain fragments of life are tender and precious, recording the beauty and wealth of our planet, past and present. The act of drawing on the past can be seen as the activity of life itself. Seeing ourselves as occupying a moment in time, through the reflection of the mirrored surface of the plinths, makes us question our arrogance over nature and the need to work with it rather than against it.