in Rerum Natura

in Latin meaning "in the nature of things", was the title for the work with which I gained an MA in Fine Art in 2009. Exhibited at the Centre for Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire, the show consisted of four primary images printed onto backlit film and displayed in light boxes. The Centre was re-imagined as a visitor centre for a nature reserve, exhibiting a further selection of images and accompanying texts, maps and research.

The focus of the project was in the structure, order and classification of the natural world, in why we have the need to classify and create order and in the Latin names given to all living things: what the names mean, why they were given, who named them and how this impacts on both visual and written language.

I investigated the issues involved in classification as complexity is removed and individuality or character, is lost. In doing so, exploring the interpretation and use of signs and representational imagery, philosophies and ancient belief systems whilst also considering cognitive science and how we interpret images by using our senses, memories and past experiences and how this ultimately affects our perception of the subject.

What does it smell like? How does it feel? What happens when I touch it? What does it taste like? Does it make a sound? What is it like?

Using the medium of photography and incorporating geo-tagging and mapping, in this project I showed how this understanding can effectively be used to create an alternative means of classification and the impact that this has on what we see. The subjects were carefully selected and re-classified based on their sensory properties:

  • see me - flowers with stunning visual aesthetics or colours
  • hear me - plants with seedpods that rattle or that exhibit aural properties
  • touch me - plants which when touched, release fragrance, or exhibit response
  • fear me - plants which sting, prick or which contain toxics
  • taste me -plants which can be used for sustenance or culinary purposes
  • feel me - plants with highly textured leaves, stems or flower heads
  • smell me - plants with highly fragrant flowers or aromatic leaves or roots
  • heal me - plants with medicinal or mind-enhancing properties

A self-published, limited edition book accompanied this project, containing a selection of images as prints and some of the research that went into it. Please contact if interested in obtaining a copy.

Several of the images from this body of work have since won awards and sold as fine art prints.

The subsequent Nature of Plants series evolved from this project.

You cannot classify unless you first define the categories into which you classify

Michael Foucault