Thesaurus Scienta Lancastriae

Williams, Robert ORCID logo ORCID: , Aylward-Williams, Jack, Barrowclough, David, Morris, Simon, Rodwell, John and Wade, Peter (2006) Thesaurus Scienta Lancastriae. Unipress Cumbria / Information as Material, Carlisle / York, UK.

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Thesaurus Scienta Lancastriaie is a collaborative art project between Jack Aylward-Williams (begun when Jack was five) and his father, the artist Robert Williams. The first collecting phase of the project took place within Lancaster’s historically significant Williamson Park, a setting that contains a wide range of collecting contexts that reflect 19th century obsessions within science & culture. In celebration of the bicentenary of eminent Victorian scientist Sir Richard Owen, the two explorers engaged in the activities of observing, collecting, measuring, sampling & testing according to Jack’s priorities, between July 20th 2004 and July 20th 2005. The areas to be explored within the environments offered by the Park included geology & palaeontology, botany, biology, zoology, physics, chemistry, meteorology, astronomy, arboriculture, art, architecture, anthropology, and many, many others. Put simply, Jack decided which aspects of his experiences in the Park to explore, the subsequent collections reflecting his formation of relationships between objects, and his descriptions of observed phenomena. Robert Williams’ role in the project was to act as facilitator, curator & organiser of collections that Jack generated. The interpretation, recording & presentation of this ‘data’ will helped to form the collections as fanciful taxonomies & a recreation of the often arbitrary classification methods applicable to nineteenth century savants. These collections, together with a range of recording, display & reference devices and material, are housed in a mobile garden shed. This was first exhibited as an interim show in December 2004. The shed as a container, references a dynamic which has shaped the cultural & scientific world since the nineteenth century. The summative presentation of the collections was shown at The Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park, Lancaster between Saturday January 29th – February 11th 2005.

The Book, Thesaurus Scienta Lancastriae, was published on February 4th 2006, and has essays from American artist Mark Dion who writes about the dynamics of collecting; Reverend Professor John Rodwell of Lancaster University, an ecologist of world renown who writes about the construction of childhood taxonomies, and the joy of natural history collecting; Historian of science Peter Wade, again from Lancaster University, writes about the significance of Lancaster's nineteenth century scientific heritage in the form of the early lives of Sir Richard Owen (coined the term Dinosaur), Edward Frankland (named the element Helium and developed the idea of valency in atomic theory), William Whewell (coined the term Scientist) & William Turner (Vice Chancellor of Edinburgh University), as well as the mysterious story of Lancaster’s lost Greg Observatory. Dr. Simon Morris is an artist, writer & theoretician who discusses the project within a contemporary art context, and Dr. David Barrowclough, a leading archaeologist from Cambridge University & consultant for the BBC programme What Art Did for the World, who writes about the Park as a cultural object - and of course Jack Aylward-Williams, whose statements & drawings form the backbone of the book. There over 120 colour images of the collecting phases & the project itself.

Item Type: Book
Publisher: Unipress Cumbria / Information as Material
ISBN: 1-869979-19-2
Related URL(s):
Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Arts (IOA) > Fine Arts
Depositing User: Robert Williams
Date Deposited: 28 May 2010 12:06
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2024 19:15


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