Wednesday, 26 March 2014

With us in spirit

Hee hee.  I've come all the way to Kew to paint a pickled pea-pod. These are from the Spirit Collections, which are indeed perhaps the most magical of all.  The specimens are stored in Copenhagen Solution, a cocktail of 70% industrial methylated spirit, 28% distilled water and 2% glycerol.

Some flowers too...

I'm very excited because they keep copies of illustrations here right with the specimens. Rightly so. I'm fascinated by the way herbarium specimens function as forms of data, whilst also being preserved bodies of living things, if not loved then certainly treated with gentleness, care and respect. (Apart  from having been murderously lopped and appropriated in the first place, of course.) Similarly for the illustrations, which sit in all kinds of interesting spaces between art & science, information and entertainment, explanation and description,  professionalism & hobby or menial work, depending on when they were made.  Everything here is getting reorganised around APGIII classification, and pictures get a nice magenta-coloured box.

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