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Preview; THE SPECTACLE OF THE LOST Victoria Gallery & Museum.

Byline: Catherine Jones

LIVERPOOL University's Victoria Gallery & Museum (VG&M) has an important collection of original works by French-American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter John James Audubon.

Audubon came to Liverpool from New Orleans in the early 19th century to seek patrons and was taken up by the Rathbone banking family, who were also benefactors of the university. Now that collection has inspired a new exhibition which opens at the VG&M tomorrow.

The Spectacle of the Lost is curated by Laura Robertson, former director of The Royal Standard Gallery and Studios in the city.

It aims to "confront our disconnected and fractious relationship with animals and the natural environment and asks, is the spectacle of nature in art our last way to rediscover this connection?" UK artist Jon Barraclough and US-based Alex Wolkowicz and Rob Peterson present a fascinating and moving installation of collaborative pieces in response to Audubon's work.

Through his obsessive observation, drawing and recording of birds in 19th century America (which included shooting, skinning and stuffing the birds himself), Audubon's artworks are a monument to the disappearance and fragility of birds as a species.

Audubon developed a deep appreciation of nature from early childhood, painting birds in a signature life-like manner that was to overshadow contemporaries and predecessors.

His significant influence on ornithology and natural history extended to being quoted by Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species, while Audubon's field notes are regarded as having made a major contribution to the understanding of bird anatomy and behaviour.

Jon Barraclough was a founder member of the Unknown Studio in London. He began teaching at Newcastle and Liverpool Schools of Art in the early 90s and became director of the school at Liverpool from 1991-6. He was shortlisted, along with Drawing Paper colleague Mike Carney, for the 2012 Liverpool Art Prize.

Jon is also, along with Alex Wolkowicz and Rob Peterson, a member of Birds' Ear View, an ongoing, multidisciplinary, collaborative art project about birds and the skies above NYC. ? The Spectacle of the Lost is at the Victoria Gallery & Museum in Ashton Street, off Brownlow Hill, from tomorrow until August 25.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 31, 2012
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