World So Obscured
harmonising natural history and art

This website creates a channel between natural history and art. Be your own agent, crossing borders and experiencing our obscure world.

Drag and drop... Drag objects from the page into the mouth of the sculpture to enter a portal. Click on the object to reveal the connected artwork.

Listen and watch... On this interactive platform, buttons around the objects and artworks unlock different senses. Look for icons which will prompt you to turn your sound on or play a video.

CLICK TO EXPLORE OUR OBSCURE WORLD

 

 
A small collection of polished pebbles
Partially fossilised beak of a Great Auk
Casts of a chimpanzee's hands and feet
A Nautilus Shell
World So Obscured
harmonising natural history and art

Artwork by Bethany Stead, Mani Kambo, Taya Franco, Eleanor Scorah, Lucy Claire and Iris Priest.
 

In the digital realm of World So Obscured, come and explore the relationship between natural history and contemporary artwork. All the objects shown have never been on display in the Great North Museum. They are hidden away in the collections, each representing remnants of history.

Like many in the past year, our project was created as a digital alternative to a physical showcase. During the pandemic, we have lost sight of the world around us. From lockdown restrictions to travel, touching to visiting museums, we’ve been forced to embrace the digital to connect in innovative ways. Where artworks are not digital, they have been adapted from a photographic document of a ‘physical’ thing, be it a 3D sculpture or drawing. Bringing the collection to you, we want to consider the differences between virtual and reality.

You are invited to slow down, pause and contemplate. At times, contemporary artwork and natural history may seem far removed from one another due to their differing fields of ‘art’ and ‘science‘. Within World So Obscured, we draw connections between objects from the GNM’s collection and artworks by local artists. We want to prove that they are in fact quite similar. What gets overlooked? How do we decide what gets noticed or ignored?

World So Obscured is a multi-sensory digital collaboration between students from the Art Museum and Gallery Studies Programme at Newcastle University, The Great North Museum: Hancock and six local artists from The NewBridge Project

Team: Yu Du, Han Ni, Ziling Xu, Inyoung Na, Caitlin Milne, Amber Brown, Estelle Zhang, Zhongwei Lian and Sophie Stevenson.

Website created by Rob Smith.

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@worldobscured

Thank you

We would like to thank Caroline McDonald, Dan Gordon, Richard Gardener and Jonathan Loach from the Great North Museum for giving us access to their collections and showcasing our future display. Gayle Meikle and the Art Museum and Gallery Studies tutors, for nurturing our idea. Rebecca Huggan and Grace Denton from The NewBridge Project, for circulating our open call. Our artists, Eleanor Scorah, Mani Kambo, Bethany Stead, Lucy Claire, Iris Priest and Taya Franco for allowing us to use their wonderful artwork. Lastly, and certainly not least a massive thank you to Rob Smith, who realised our World So Obscured into this online platform.

Artists' Biographies

Mani Kambo:
Mani Kambo is based in Newcastle Upon Tyne where she grew up surrounded by Sikh tradition and ritual. Kambo is drawn to everyday rituals and precautionary actions taken from superstitions. The same creative ritualistic processes, recurring symbols and imagery are used in her print and film works, each one feeding into the other, acting like a chain reaction. Printmaking is rooting in her family's history as tailors and fabric printmakers.
manikambo.co.uk/ | Instagram: @manikambo | Twitter: @manikambo

Taya Franco:
Taya Franco’s work straddles a liminal space between forms and language - between the ‘authentic’ and the quixotic. ⁠Her interests include deconstruction of all kinds: linguistic, semiotic, sociological, with a particular emphasis on childhood and the process of unlearning. ⁠She attempts to disembody the increasing alienation she feels through the playful, performative objects and environments I produce. ⁠The materials Taya uses vary from clay, metal and wood, in combination with spoken word and art writing. ⁠She attempts to create a mythology surrounding her sculptures and installations, spinning fictitious narratives that point to a world just out of reach. ⁠She hopes to highlight the importance of plural histories and radical imaginings in a time where the future already seems concrete. "It’s a personal remedy for a dark ecology."
tayafranco.co.uk/ | Instagram: @tayafrancoart | Twitter: @pervasivestasis

Lucy Claire:
Lucy Claire is a composer and sound artist from Sunderland. Her work explores a balance between real-world sounds, spoken word, classical music and electronics. She is a keen sound collector and spends a lot of time outside; exploring, listening and gathering soundscapes. Birdsong, shuffling feet and muted conversations are as important in her compositions as any instrument and the results are highly immersive. She is passionate about deep and active listening, sound memories, lost sounds, drawing sound and sonic meditations.
lucy-claire.com | Instagram: @lucy__claire | Twitter: @Lucy__Claire | lucy@lucy-claire.com

Iris Priest:
Iris Priest is an artist concerned with our relationship with 'nature' and how we shape our experience and [dis]connection[s] through language, pedagogy, and art. ⁠Her practise is organised around the central ethics of care, connection and healing. ⁠She believes that listening is the most important part of any conversation and, more than anything, her practise is about listening to the multiplicity, heterogeneity and wonder of the living world of which we are a part.⁠
www.irispriest.carbonmade.com | Instagram: @siri_stripe | irisapriest@gmail.com

Eleanor Scorah:
Eleanor Scorah is a writer exploring the recurring imagery in everyday experiences. Her work appears in Strix and Palm-Sized Press, and she won first prize in the Poetry Kit Winter Competition 2019. She was a member of the NewBridge Project's Collective Studio and shares her curiosity about ordinary and extraordinary things on the blog, Object, which she co-creates with Katie Harling-Lee.
medium.com/eleanor-scorah | Instagram: @eleanor.scorah | Twitter: @eleanorscorah |

Bethany Stead:
Bethany Stead’s work explores both materials and techniques associated with traditional craft and folk art, some of which have a long history of being laborious to manipulate, and assigned to humans of a particular class, gender and sex. ⁠Often her works are created from clay, wood, textile and paper, Bethany is intrigued in using these materials to incite conversations about the societal barriers they, and others face, due to these classifications.⁠ Her inspiration is drawn from surrealism, sculptures and drawings that become animistic characters residing within imagined and disturbing domestic spaces.
bethanystead.com/ | Instagram: @bethstead_