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red in tooth and claw

A collaboration between the Ulster Museum

Margarete Hahner, Garrett Carr

Ends 05 April 2008

The Ulster Museum, Belfast, currently closed for renovation, teams up with the artists Margarete Hahner (Los Angeles/Berlin) and Garrett Carr (Belfast), to open a small city outlet of their Natural History collection. Alongside this creative re-arrangement of a ‘pocket’ sized sample of animals, beetles and shells, this project focuses on the issue of display and the ways we interpret our natural world. Margarete Hahner and Garrett Carr were given the brief, to imagine a new display for the animals and to create their view of the natural world. With a given ‘inventory of objects and scientific explanations’ they creatively selected animals and scientific topics, displaying imaginative relationships and engaged connections. Margarete Hahner: detail A wooden fort occupies the centre space in the exhibition, a last retreat for an endangered nature or a reclusive and seasoned cabinet of a collector. Could preservation be a tool against the threats posed to our natural environment and how real is the damage to the eco-system by such creatures as the River Shrimp or the Harlequin Ladybird. The beauty and charm of the animals, which paradoxically, are ‘stuffed’ objects, act as the fulcrum to this project. How we display them reveals a lot about our understanding and view of the natural world. Links to Ulster Museum: Margarete Hahner: detail Inventory: Otter, Stoat, Grey Squirrel, 2x Hedgehog, Magpie, Robin, Rat, 2x Fox, Mink, Red Squirrel, 3x Rabbit, Turtle, Shark’s Jaws, Rook + 14 paintings by Margarete Hahner + one video (‘local history’) + 4 posters by Garrett Carr. Garrett Carr, 4 posters- (text only version) Poster 1 Preservation, one In the 19th Century "preservation" was likely to mean shooting and stuffing. The Ulster Museum has a huge collection of mounted birds and stuffed animals, many from that time. James Sheals was a famous taxidermist working in Belfast in the 19th Century, many of the displays in the Ulster Museum were his work. He and his sons were producing some of the best quality mounted birds and mammals in the world at the time. On the base of most of the bird's mounts the Sheals noted details of where, when and how the bird died. This information is now useful, since many species have since become rare or even extinct in Ireland. Ursus Maritimus - Polar Bear Peter is the name of the Ulster Museum's mounted polar bear. He is locally famous. There are various urban myths about how he died and his arrival at the Museum. One story is that Peter was not dead, as thought, when he was delivered. Some say he burst from the Museum's store and ran amok on his first night there. The police shot him, leaving a mark behind his ear "that can still be seen to this day."  Local poet Paul Hutchinson suggests that, apart from the stuffing, naming the bear "Peter" was also a part of his taming and display. A scary beast named by humans can become a beauty / Peter, I think, would have been less popular with small children had he been called Face-slasher, Mangler or Bowel-ripper. / But the bear is called Peter, and is one of the most popular exhibits. / Is it his name that makes him look friendly? [ … ] We like to cage our beasts. / We like to kill and stuff them. / We don't like our wild things to roam. / The beast is in a box. / Held by wood and a friendly name. Poster 2 Preservation, two Conservation is preservation in the wild. Northern Ireland has 271 "Priority Species," meaning they are the subject of conservation efforts. Bombus distinguendus - Great Yellow Bumblebee What are the chances of seeing a Great Yellow Bumblebee this coming summer? Slim. There have been no confirmed sightings of this bee in Northern Ireland since 1989. The main cause of decline is the loss of flower-rich grassland. Red clover and common knapweed are its favourites. Adults have a long tongue so have a preference for flowers with long corollas. A large furry bumblebee can be up to 22mm in length. The front and rear of the thorax are brownish-yellow and there is a sharply-defined central black band between the wing bases. The abdomen is unbanded with a uniform covering of greenish-yellow hairs. The combination of the black band on the thorax and the uniformly yellowish abdomen is unique amongst Irish bumblebees. The north coast dunes are perhaps the most likely place for a population of Bombus distinguendus to exist, but there have been no verified reports. A possible sighting at Portstewart in 2003 has not been repeated or confirmed. Otherwise, one has to travel to the machair sites in western Ireland (especially the Mullet in Mayo) or the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. Adults can be seen from May to September. (Reference: Brian Nelson, CEDaR, The Centre for Environmental Data and Recording was established in 1995 by the Ulster Museum. If you see the species, please report any sightings to them: CEDaR, National Museums Northern Ireland, 153 Bangor Road, Cultra, Co. Down, BT18 0EU. Telephone: 028 9039 5256, or email: Poster 3 Preservation, three Preservation can mean battling the competition on the behalf of native creatures. Gammarus pulex - River Shrimp Garrett Carr: Poster 3 The Theory of Evolution taught us to see the natural world in business-like terms. Adaptation, success, dominance, expansion. "Selection," between winners and losers, was "natural." Yet now the work of preservation often means inhibiting, or attempting to inhibit, the spread of some species because they are too successful.  "Vector" is the term used to describe the means in which an invader species moves to a new area. Some Northern Irish fishermen have been vectors recently. They thought it would be a good idea to bring River Shrimp from England and introduce them to rivers in Northern Ireland, for local fish to eat. Now Gammarus pulex is spreading through many river and lough systems, such as the Lagan, Bann, Lough Neagh and Lough Erne. They are now so thick in areas that virtually all you will net in a river are hundreds of these invader shrimps. They can be up to 20mm in length. When breeding, males grab on to and carry chosen females for several weeks until she sheds her skin and the male can mate with her. For this reason you will often find two River Shrimp clung together. Because Gammarus pulex can breed fast and is a big eater other small creatures are threatened. Gammarus pulex is driving the native river shrimp, Gammarus duebeni celticus, to near extinction. There may be some hope for our native shrimp, as it appears the invader does not like to live on the very uppermost stretches of river, such as in the streams of the Mourne Mountains, County Down, or high up in the river systems of County Antrim. The reason for this is not yet clear, but at least the native shrimp might have some refuge and may not disappear altogether. (Reference; Jamie Dick, Poster 4 Preservation, three (continued) Harmonia axyridis - Harlequin Ladybird When on the topic of invading species analogies with human xenophobic attitudes are easy found. Outsiders (of all kinds) arrive, invited or otherwise, they crowd-out the natives, they consume too many resources, and, above all, they have big families. The constant fear is that they will drive native species to extinction. Chart the rapid spread of the Harlequin Ladybird. Does it look like the spread of some deadly cancer? Or it simply the record of change?  Change is life itself. Might not the Harlequin simply be the future? Acer pseudoplanatus, the Sycamore tree, for example, was also an invader. Reckoned to have arrived in Ireland in the 15th Century. Now it is part of the landscape and a well-rooted part of the Irish experience. It is true that the Harlequin Ladybird is an aggressive and highly reproductive species. If it establishes in Northern Ireland their population will grow rapidly, decimating the numbers of native Ladybirds. Supermarkets can be a vector for invaders. A Harlequin Ladybird was found in a consignment of celery hearts from England at Tesco's, Lisburn on the 6th of November, 2007. The first of many? It is not easy to identify a Harlequin Ladybird as it is very variable as a species. For more information, view other images, or to report sightings: (Reference: Roy Anderson, More on Garrett Carr see: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Margarete Hahner: detail 'red in tooth and claw' can be seen as a small, cabinet size Natural History Museum. It imitates and paraphrases elements of a museum- display of objects, educational information- but has a subjective and creative interpetation of the subject. The following text- provided by the Ulster Museum-gives background information about their current redevelopment: THE ULSTER MUSEUM’S REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT BACKGROUND The Ulster Museum in Belfast is soon to be transformed through one of the most significant cultural regeneration projects ever undertaken in Northern Ireland. A major redevelopment project will result in its reinvention as an internationally renowned centre for the sharing of knowledge and a visitor destination of world-class standard. This is the first substantial development of the Ulster Museum in more than three decades and will rejuvenate one of Northern Ireland’s best known and most loved landmarks. As a national museum, the Ulster Museum already makes a very significant cultural, educational and economic contribution to society here. This project will reinforce the museum’s central role in the cultural life of the Northern Ireland community and this role will be further enhanced by the development. This Ulster Museum Redevelopment will also enhance the stewardship of the national collections and guarantee their future survival for the people of Northern Ireland. Since closing its doors to the public on 1st October 2006, the Ulster Museum has undertaken the most extensive outreach programme in its history. Reaching Out includes over 200 events with exhibitions, library displays, lectures and talks & handling sessions taking place across Northern Ireland and beyond. The Redevelopment Project The redevelopment scheme will cost in the region of £14.7 million with up to £9.2m coming from DCAL. The Heritage Lottery Fund is providing £4.5 million and National Museums Northern Ireland is raising the balance through its own fundraising initiative.  The two and a half year project, which will bring an additional 1,225 sq metres of space into public use, will transform the museum’s exhibition space, significantly improve learning and visitor facilities and integrate the museum more fully with Botanic Gardens. This project will enable the museum to make its diverse collections visually and emotionally stimulating and intellectually meaningful for increasing numbers of visitors of all ages and backgrounds. The design concept includes a new visitor orientation facility, featuring a dramatically redesigned Central Courtyard, which will allow the visitor to access any area of the museum from this central location. An extensive refurbishment of the museum's ground floor will ensure that our building offers the type of visitor experience and high quality public facilities associated with a national museum, including enlarged retail and catering provision. A new enclosed roof top gallery in the former Sculpture Court will showcase our finest applied art collections. Dynamic, new History and Science Galleries, Discovery Centres and interactive displays will be developed. The redevelopment project will result in a major transformation of the gallery landscapes, specifically focusing on the reinterpretation and redesign of the History and Sciences collections. In keeping with our aim of being at the leading edge of lifelong learning in museums, we will develop an exciting new “Learning Zone” on the ground floor.  To meet the demands of many partner organisations and our corporate audience we will completely refurbish the museum lecture theatre as a more versatile, multi-use space. In all, the building will become more welcoming, more attractive and more suited to the needs of our expanding audiences. As well as the work already outlined, the project has already included the decanting of over 800,000 precious artefacts to temporary stores and a major redeployment of our staff. In summary this project will: Improve access Improve navigation of the building Increase participation Provide a learning experience for all visitors Preserve and safeguard our national collections for future generations Make a major contribution to the social and economic regeneration of Belfast and Northern Ireland. The Ulster Museum is due to reopen in Summer 2009. A Brief Overview of the Work Hall of Wonders The Hall of Wonders will utilise the full height and capacity of one of the most dramatic spaces in the museum to impress the visitor with a kaleidoscope of iconic objects that represents the full range of material held by the Ulster Museum across the arts, history and sciences collections. Hall of Wonders The spectacular, tiered display structure will enable visitors to progress around and through an eclectic selection of objects – to create a sense of wonder and to encourage further exploration of the main museum galleries. Some of the larger and less vulnerable objects will define a permanent framework for the Hall, among which a regularly changing selection of more environmentally sensitive material will be arranged.  Objects will be augmented by large-scale projected images and soundscapes around the periphery of the space. Central Courtyard & Atrium  A visit to the newly opened Ulster Museum will begin in the remodelled Central Courtyard which will be specifically designed to orientate visitors to the content and themes of the museum. Physical access to the museum will be through a newly designed and relocated front entrance. The entrance and lofty orientation space, with its two new lifts ascending the museum, will transport visitors via a series of levels and walkways to all of the galleries and exhibitions.  The Central Courtyard (existing Dinosaur Gallery) will be the living heart of the museum, capturing visitors’ attention from the moment of arrival. Friendly visitor guides and interactive information systems in this area will introduce the highlights of the museum, the exhibitions, events and collections. This area will become a starting and end point for visitors’ journey around the building. History Suite of Galleries The History Suite of Galleries will provide a comprehensive view of our society, from the first peopling of the Irish landscape to the present day – a story told over a 10,000 year period. Science Suite of Galleries  Science Gallery Exterior The Science Suite of Galleries will examine biodiversity and the history of the earth from remotest times. Our unique and extensive collections of botanical, zoological and geological materials will illustrate how local people have interacted with our wonderful natural environment from the arrival of the first settlers. Roof Top Gallery  The new enclosed Roof Top Gallery will be created in a space previously used as a sculpture court. It will showcase some of the finest objects from our applied art collection including historic silver, ceramics, glass and jewellery as well as stunning examples from our international contemporary applied art collection. Education Areas Learning Zone A specially developed centre for formal learning designed to the highest standards and offering groups and schools a leading edge facility in the centre of the museum. Science Discovery Centre  This centre will provide a range of materials and resources to support the conventional and formal presentations in the main galleries. Science and technology, the environment and society will be some of the key themes that curious minds can explore in this area. History Discovery Centre This centre will provide a range of ways to explore, in greater depth, the historical, archaeological and ethnographic collections of the museum. Development of historical enquiry skills and an understanding of how individuals and groups have used history to create stereotypes will be key elements of this centre. Lecture Theatre The lecture theatre will be completely refurbished and developed as a multi-use space. Seating capacity is for 150 and the theatre will be equipped with state-of-the-art audio visual and video conferencing technology. Specialist areas  Schools area / multi purpose space – an area created for over 30,000 plus school visitors each year for use in a wide range of creative workshops and which can also be used as an informal meal area for families at weekends and holiday periods. Art Conservation Studio – a facility dedicated to the vitally important conservation of the museum’s valuable collection of paintings and prints. © Ulster Museum Many thanks to the Ulster Museum, especially to the 'Learning and Access' department. Back to Top