I was introduced to Ernst Haeckel’s work, a German artist who was also a scientist when researching his book ‘Art Forms in Nature’ (1903) for a seminar paper recently. I was inspired by the beautiful artistic rendering of the microscopic sea creatures, Radiolaria, depicted within. In this ground-breaking work he renders in detail their intricate mineral skeletons which form a strong protection for their soft inner core. But it was not just their beauty which inspired me - these tiny creatures have an environmental impact; they are responsible for mopping up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and using it to create calcium carbonate for their skeletons.
Thus, using Radiolaria as my inspiration, I approached this module by using both ceramic and textile media. As Radiolaria can have such a wide variety of forms I decided to concentrate on just two elements, their ‘egg’ shaped appearance and the spikes that they use for protection, and this led to the designs for the pieces that I produced. I confined my ceramic research to porcelain clay as I felt this would provide the fine, skeletal detail required, while in contrast I was able to explore Radiolaria’s vulnerability by using the softness of Marino fleece. Eventually I felt that Radiolaria’s dual qualities of strength and vulnerability needed to be expressed by the use of both media combined, which led to the making of some mixed media pieces.
Bernie Hennessy(Student - MTU Crawford - Contemporary Applied Art)
Title:Radiolaria • Medium:porcelain and porcelain/felt mixed media • Dimensions: 20CM X 10CM