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Have fish had their chips?

There’s several ways to look at fish – in books, in films and even on your plate – but here’s a new treatment for our watery companions. Subnature is a new exhibition, opening next week, at University College London, and it features sculptures and prints by emerging artist Lan Lan (UCL Slade School of Fine Art) who, through the manipulation of original fish bone sculptures, creates contemporary phantom creatures.

Set amongst the Museum’s historic collections of skeletons, skulls and specimens in jars, the exhibition establishes a dialogue between natural history and its contemporary interventions – intertwining a Victorian collection with 21st Century digital techniques. The fantastical works take the form of cosmic bodies and marine animals, with some installations imagining a fictional future where energy plants rely on the phantom creatures.

This exhibition marks the first public solo show by the Sculpture student Lan Lan. She has long been curious about nature and its conversation with modern technology, often making virtual sculptures and sublime environments from 2D and 3D scan imagery of materials. “The journey my works have taken has been really unexpected. In a way it’s like an accelerated evolutionary process and placing the visuals amongst the Museum’s collections really emphasises the abstraction of the works,” said Lan.

Among the 68,000 specimens held at the Grant Museum are some of the rarest extinct animal specimens in the world. The Museum contains dodo bones, the remains of a quagga (an extinct species of half-striped zebra) and a giant deer with antlers measuring over 3 metres across.

“It is so exciting to work with such a young artist who has taken the material we work with every day at the Museum – bone – and reimagined it in an entirely different, yet seemingly natural way.” said Jack Ashby, Manager of the Grant Museum.

“To marry our historic skeletons and specimens in jars with Lan Lan’s phantom creations has made me look at our collection in new ways. We have sea slugs and worms in the Museum that could easily pass for Lan’s digitally altered bone sculptures; the results of her alterations are incredible”.

Subnature runs from 21st May until 19th July 2014. The Grant Museum of Zoology is open from 1-5pm Monday to Saturday. Admission is free and there is no need to book.

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